I suppose this is a rather rhetorical question because you have probably read my short introduction to this topic and you know what these blog posts are going to be about. However, because I am a teacher, I will repeat once again, just in case somebody jumped to these pages without reading the blurb. For them, and to remind the others, I will copy-paste the intro.
‘ Suddenly and unexpectedly, after twenty years of happily teaching English to my students, I was 'promoted' into a native speaker teacher! How?
Of course, I started teaching Serbian for Foreigners! So I'll be comparing my experience as a native and a non-native speaker teacher (two in one). It is always interesting to have a new perspective.’
Before I go deeper into the heart of the matter, and before you take me too seriously, I also want to point out that this is a very personal story, and everything I say here comes straight from my experience in my classroom, processed by my brain and is not based on any scientific research or any other sophisticated method of finding out the truth. These ideas are primarily based on my psychological profile and probably modified by my students’ behaviour and reactions.
As I rely heavily on my own experience, here are some facts and figures about it. I started learning English in primary school at the age of 10, continued in secondary school and studied it at university. All in all, that is twelve years of learning as a learner. With some very short breaks at the beginning of my career, I kept on learning English as an English teacher (To teach is to learn twice! - Joubert). I can say I have been learning English for thirty-five years in total and I have been teaching it for twenty-three years.
I don’t think I have ever learned Serbian. I acquired it when I was ready for it and began learning about it in school. Naturally, I already knew the language when I started learning and no wonder I have never applied any grammar rules to my Serbian sentences. Honestly, it would be an epic ordeal to start now (I got a severe headache after only three sentences in an experiment of mine). As you can see, I was learning about Serbian for twelve years in schools as well, and I have just recently resumed learning about Serbian as a teacher.
Now that I have made this thing clear, I can freely move on to inner circles of my mind. Why do I feel the need to talk about it? Simply because I suddenly got the chance to see more of the whole picture which supplied me with a new pair of eyes to look for some more pieces of this gigantic puzzle called teaching&learning. As it is something we rarely get the chance to experience, I wanted to share the phenomenon with whoever wants to read about it. I will repeat (again?), I don’t claim I have any answers to any questions. I just want to say that this unexpected and unwanted good luck allowed me to step behind the mirror and pushed me where I feared to tread.
The wiser side of my split personality is urging me not to bore you anymore with irrelevant details but to go on straight to the point. What are the questions I will try to answer to myself? So here they are! How is my newly acquired status of a native speaker teacher different from my old self of being a non native speaker teacher? What are the advantages and disadvantages of being either? How can one side of me benefit from the other? And finally, why not, have I become any wiser from this experience?
So let’s start from the beginning, i.e. let’s meet both sides of my split personality and see how each function separately and what happens when they meet...
(to be continued…….)