Is it an English as a Second Language World?

As an English as a Second language speaker and writer I found this Fishbowl blog post very interesting.

1. I’m not sure if it strikes anyone else this way, but the phrase “the majority of encounters in English today take place between non-native speakers” really seems significant to me. Especially when you follow it up with “relief at the absence of native speakers is common.” I wonder what implications that has (if any) on how we teach English to native speakers? I also wonder what that will look like over time, as more and more non-native speakers use English to communicate, will native speakers be the ones who have to adapt? Apparently that’s not so far-fetched.

2.But spoken English is another matter. Why should non-native speakers bother with what native speakers regard as correct? Their main aim, after all, is to be understood by one another. As Mr Graddol says, in most cases there is no native speaker present.

The two quotes above gave me some peace as to why should I always stress if my English as a second language is good enough to use, if I write something – is my grammar correct? I think my English teacher is to blame, because we had to be 100% correct in spelling and grammar. So my way of coping was to say as little as possible and only write what is really important. By putting up this blog gave me so much confidence and I don’t think any native English speaking person can ever understand how it feels. Maybe you will if you are asked to write something in French. This should say something for the teachers who teach English as a second language….


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Teaching ESL

Reading Ellyse’s blog on “ESL placement at Massey School” reminded me of the frustrations I encountered when I had to learn English as a second language. The best way of helping these kids is – read to them, let them read to you and let them write. Then you teach them and help them by looking at the mistakes they are making. This way you stay on their level of progression and they will feel comfortable.

I have 3 children which were all born in Canada, but spend a great part of their lives in South Africa. That was the reason that English were not their first language. After moving back to Canada we spent many hours just reading and writing in English and in a very short period of time they were fluent in English. At home we still speak Afrikaans to keep our connection and ties with South Africa and we will always keep that up.