Let’s get real.
It’s hard to learn a language, most teachers can’t spend a couple years immersed in their target language to advance on the proficiency scale, we can actually recognize our own errors and accents, and yet we have to model authenticity every day.
- I acknowledge that I am the best source for input that my students have.
- It’s a fact that there is a shortage of language teachers in many states, and to expect a huge native speaker pool is unrealistic.
- I realize that being a master linguist comes second to educator effectiveness.
- I understand that language acquisition is a process over time that requires years and years of input.
- HOWEVER, I still feel insecure when being observed by a native speaker.
- I can’t help it.
So, when Marta Ruiz Yedinak messaged me on Twitter to ask if she could spend the day with me in my classroom, there were a few more butterflies than usual for an observation. There’s no footage editing a live feed!
Of course, we had a blast, we both learned a lot, we collaborated over assessments, planning, culture, and more.
The amazing comprehensible input provider @ProfeYedinak drove over 3 hours to observe & collaborate with me today. Many thanks to @riponschools for facilitating the profesional development time! #langchat @Hatlenr #educatoreffectiveness pic.twitter.com/OEgkJDMR1H— Sarah Breckley (@SarahBreckley) January 25, 2019
But you know I just had to bring up that dreaded topic…
“So, was my Spanish okay?”
“Were there any errors that made me incomprehensible?”
“Was my accent so bad?”
Her responses were too amazing to keep to myself, and they apply to all non-native language teachers. So, of course, we had to have the conversation over again, and this time we filmed it for all you insecure non-natives around the world to hear.
Take it in 🙂
Some of my favorite Marta quotes:
“It’s just as ridiculous to think that because you are a native English speaker your English is perfect.”
“We need to have our expectations where they’re supposed to be.”
“I believe that accents are beautiful regardless of where they’re from.”
“I am not expecting you to pronounce perfectly. I’ve been here for 20 years and I still have an accent.”
“As long as it doesn’t interfere with communication, you are meeting the goal.”
“We need to stop being arrogant.”
“It’s okay to tell your students, “Let me go check”. They are seeing that you are human.”
“You need to teach them how to be humble, kind learners.”
“Keep polishing your CI skills”
“When you find yourself singing in that language, it does something magic.”
Check out some of the Tweets in support and of relief!
The best language teachers I know, & the ones I admire the most are not native speakers of the language they teach. This says so much about their character, courage, & noble qualities. I have it easy teaching my native language @SarahBreckley @profeyedinak https://t.co/MCn1DMAy3w— Spanish Cuentos (@profeklein) January 26, 2019
Thank you so much for sharing this. Not only does it give me (as a non-native Spanish teacher) a boost of confidence, but I think I’ll share the first couple minutes with one of our EL students who needs to hear this from someone else other than me!— Lia Raabe (@LiaRaabe) January 26, 2019
Chicos-this is worth a watch to hear some perspective from a native speaker about non-native speakers (spoiler alert: it’s ok to not have a perfect accent!) Also, watch the end to hear more of why I use so much music with you guys & have you sing so much! ¡Gracias Sra. Breckley! https://t.co/FhePzQOrnB— Señorita Tristano (@srtatristano) January 26, 2019
Creating a safe space for language practice for students is imperative and understood, I wonder why we don’t think the same for our colleagues? #langchat #americathebilingual #spanishteacher https://t.co/QxA78EQbnZ— Jaime Kerns (@LaSraJaime) January 26, 2019
I also appreciate the reminder that our students will always be non-native speakers. If there’s no hope for their non-native teacher, what hope is there for them? Why should they even bother?— Alana Considine (@ConsidineAlana) January 26, 2019
So long as it doesn’t interfere with communication, non-native accents just convey that the person has an awesome life story to tell. What a tremendous perspective that both Ts and Ss alike could benefit from hearing more often! #langchat #ellchat #mfltwitterati https://t.co/vNrdQQrPHY— Rich Madel (@SrMadel) January 29, 2019
From the @ACTFL distinguished (ie **highest possible**) proficiency level. @SarahBreckley #langchat pic.twitter.com/wTPDHQPR5o— Dorie (@doriecp) January 29, 2019
Thanks again, Marta! You’ve made thousands of teachers feel the native speaker love!
[…] Imagine if your bestie from CI conferences came to collaborate with you at your school. It happened to me! […]
Great post! As non-native speakers we’ll be learning and making mistakes in Spanish for the rest of our lives, but that vulnerability is also good to show our students. We are language learners too and we have to own it!