Do I Need to Speak a Second Language to Teach English Online?

In short, the answer is NO. You do not need to speak a second language in order to teach English online. After all, your students will have signed up for English classes - and as such, English should be the language of focus and use within the classroom. For a more expansive discussion as to why you don’t need to be able to speak a second language in order to teach English online, but may want to, follow along as we unpack some important considerations.

While you do not necessarily need to speak a second language in this industry, many teachers may wish to learn one. If you are able to understand your students’ native language, it may greatly assist you in aiding them along in their language journey.

Let us now take a look at some of the reasons why speaking a second language in the classroom may be helpful. You are enabled to engage with learners more easily and sometimes faster, understand more of the language problems they may be experiencing, and offer better emotional support while facilitating a care-filled approach as their teacher.

When a message is becoming too long or getting lost in translation, you could speak to your learners in their native language. Although this can sometimes help, be sure to use it as the last resort or else your learners may adopt the attitude of “If I wait long enough, I’ll be able to hear it in my native language so why try now”- this, of course, is something you don’t want.

Using your learner’s mother tongue may assist you in correcting their pronunciation by pointing out the differences between how some English sounds are produced as opposed to the same sounds in their native language. It may also assist you in giving instructions, especially if they are beginners with limited vocabulary stores.

Arguably, one of the most rewarding aspects of using a student’s first language instead of English is to build rapport and establish a foundation of comfort, before expecting your learners to be brave enough to take risks and experiment with English.

For more tips and tricks, be sure to get in touch with ITTI South Africa. We not only offer TESOL, Young Learner and Business English specialisation courses but also a fantastic job support course whereby we get you industry ready and offer valuable advice along the way.

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