209. Subject: Non native English speakers.  I work with preschoolers. I have had several questions from the parents of my students about the influence of non-native English speakers teaching their children. Do you have a reference for any printed material I might give to parents that explains that it is NOT detrimental to receive instruction from bilingual speakers?

ANSWER

If I understand your question correctly, you are asking about a situation within a pre-school classroom where English-speaking students may be taught by bilingual speakers of English and another language. These bilingual speakers are native speakers of the other language and second language speakers of English. Thus, their English language skills may not be exactly like the English language skills of native English speakers in terms of pronunciation, or other language features.

Parents may need to understand that not ALL native English speakers express themselves in precisely the same way. For example, Australians or Jamaicans, or Belizeans, or Englishmen or Englishwomen from England express themselves in totally different ways although ALL of them are native English speakers. Within the USA the same situation holds true. South Carolinians do NOT speak the same way as Californians although they are both native English speakers. Thus, differences in the way that native speakers of the same language express themselves are in no way detrimental to any young English language learner's efforts to master the English language.

A young English speaker may have many different teachers throughout h(is/er) educational experience, and each of these teachers probably speaks English differently from all the other ones. Still, the student masters the English language and expresses himself or herself quite properly by the end of h(is/er) schooling.

Should that same young English speaker encounter throughout his educational experience one or more bilingual teachers who are non-native English speakers, that English-speaking child will master the English language and express himself or herself quite properly by the end of h(is/er) schooling. Language development is not the result of one single exposure to one person. Language development results from a myriad of exposures to a myriad of language models, language models provided by the parents, family members, many different teachers, community members, classmates, the media, etc.

I do not know of any specific publication that deals with this issue. However, the key idea to communicate to parents is that language development is a cumulative process that lasts almost an entire lifetime. One teacher, one exposure, one type of model
will not result in the development of language patterns like the ones provided by that single teacher, that single exposure, that specific type of language model. In fact, most speakers master several dialects of their own native language. They may speak one way among family and friends, and another way among strangers or within their professional fields, for example. Most speakers master two or more dialects of their own native language(s). Actors learn to speak many different dialects of their own native language to portray different characters on stage or in movies.

Hope these ideas help you help the parents. Thank you for a GREAT question!!!!!!

 


For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

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5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

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Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
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