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  • Annoying non-native ALTs

    ............................
    Last edited by monkeydog; 2012-10-30, 09:09 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by monkeydog View Post
    So, I've been doing in the ALT gig for a short time now and have recently met my fellow ALTs in the prefecture. I was quite shocked and annoyed to see so many non-native ALTs with terrible English working for the company.
    There were all sorts; Filipinos, Poles, Jamaicans, and even a West African with a bonafide "back in da Gambia" accent. None of these people had adequate spoken English skills, and they all came with strong "ping-pong, rasta-dem and bugga bugga" accents. I think this is a terrible shame, it is a waste of taxpayer money and is unfair to the schools and students.
    Some may say " Oh, well. They have excellent grammar skills so they are better teachers than natives". But guess what, Japanese schools already have excellent English grammar teachers with the terrible spoken skills - yes thats right: the JTE!
    Others will say; "but they are native level because they studied in English at school". My reposte is simple. Proficiency is measured in many professions by experience. Often it is literally the hours one has in experience in a particular role that indicates one's level of ability. For example a pilots proficiency is measured based on flying time. Now, based on this I would argue that as I, a native English speaker speak English 95% of the time, including to my friends, family, colleagues, strangers etc. I am and should be more proficient than a non-native as when they are outside of the work environment they tend go back to their "mother tongue". In the case of Filiponos - anyone of their native languages, Jamaicans - Patois, Poles - Polish, Africans - anyone one of their many languages. Non natives basically have very little flying time!
    Also, there accents are terrible - which means there pronunciations are just as bad. Many will say "Oh, but there are many English accents". MY point is very succinct; there is a a range of tolerance where accents can inhabit, but outside that range the pronunciation just becomes incorrect. Jamaicans pronouncing a hard "th" a "d" and a soft "th" as "t" for example or pronouncing "ask" as "arx", filipinos putting "p" in everyting, Poles who are unable to distinguish "v" from "w", and all manner of issues with African pronunciation of English. There are two filipino ALT's i know that have given themselves English names, put the problem is that they can't even pronounce them correctly!

    I have been educating as many Japanese people in the educational establishment as why it is a bad idea to employ non-natives in the education system. From members of the BOE to my JTEs and fellow senseis. And anyone else that would care to listen! I ask all of you to do the same, and once the word is out hopefully a sustained campaign can be pushed forward so that Japanese schools and students get what they deserve!
    Maybe there aren't enough native English in that prefecture?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by monkeydog View Post
      So, I've been doing in the ALT gig for a short time now and have recently met my fellow ALTs in the prefecture. I was quite shocked and annoyed to see so many non-native ALTs with terrible English working for the company.
      There were all sorts; Filipinos, Poles, Jamaicans, and even a West African with a bonafide "back in da Gambia" accent. None of these people had adequate spoken English skills, and they all came with strong "ping-pong, rasta-dem and bugga bugga" accents. I think this is a terrible shame, it is a waste of taxpayer money and is unfair to the schools and students.
      Some may say " Oh, well. They have excellent grammar skills so they are better teachers than natives". But guess what, Japanese schools already have excellent English grammar teachers with the terrible spoken skills - yes thats right: the JTE!
      Others will say; "but they are native level because they studied in English at school". My reposte is simple. Proficiency is measured in many professions by experience. Often it is literally the hours one has in experience in a particular role that indicates one's level of ability. For example a pilots proficiency is measured based on flying time. Now, based on this I would argue that as I, a native English speaker speak English 95% of the time, including to my friends, family, colleagues, strangers etc. I am and should be more proficient than a non-native as when they are outside of the work environment they tend go back to their "mother tongue". In the case of Filiponos - anyone of their native languages, Jamaicans - Patois, Poles - Polish, Africans - anyone one of their many languages. Non natives basically have very little flying time!
      Also, there accents are terrible - which means there pronunciations are just as bad. Many will say "Oh, but there are many English accents". MY point is very succinct; there is a a range of tolerance where accents can inhabit, but outside that range the pronunciation just becomes incorrect. Jamaicans pronouncing a hard "th" a "d" and a soft "th" as "t" for example or pronouncing "ask" as "arx", filipinos putting "p" in everyting, Poles who are unable to distinguish "v" from "w", and all manner of issues with African pronunciation of English. There are two filipino ALT's i know that have given themselves English names, put the problem is that they can't even pronounce them correctly!

      I have been educating as many Japanese people in the educational establishment as why it is a bad idea to employ non-natives in the education system. From members of the BOE to my JTEs and fellow senseis. And anyone else that would care to listen! I ask all of you to do the same, and once the word is out hopefully a sustained campaign can be pushed forward so that Japanese schools and students get what they deserve!

      "ping-pong, rasta-dem and bugga bugga" accents." I said something similar like that once and got threatened with 're-education camp' (ie. corporate sensitivity training). Apparently only complimentary descriptions are allowed. For example, the delightful softly-spoken patois of the ooga booga obama whamma African.... oops. Well, I tried...

      Comment


      • #4
        The most obvious question is:
        What exactly are the requirements to become an ALT in the area you are in?
        If the candidates are meeting them, then there is no issue.

        All you need to do is to "sell yourself".
        I don't know if you're working for a dispatch, but if you are, go to the BOE in the area you wish to work and state your case to the people that matter.

        Another way you can "get back" at this injustice is to get yourself super qualified and go to work at a private school that pays top dollar.

        I feel that if you don't have a teaching qualification, you are not a teacher.
        An ALT does not need a teaching qualification.
        That means, you are not a teacher.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Old Style View Post
          The most obvious question is:
          What exactly are the requirements to become an ALT in the area you are in?
          If the candidates are meeting them, then there is no issue.

          All you need to do is to "sell yourself".
          I don't know if you're working for a dispatch, but if you are, go to the BOE in the area you wish to work and state your case to the people that matter.

          Another way you can "get back" at this injustice is to get yourself super qualified and go to work at a private school that pays top dollar.

          I feel that if you don't have a teaching qualification, you are not a teacher.
          An ALT does not need a teaching qualification.
          That means, you are not a teacher.
          I think you've completely missed my point. This wasn't a selfish rant about how "I'm missing out because of these damned non-natives". I'm quite happy with where I am in my life and happy with my position. Some of us actually have the ability to step back and consider the bigger picture and not obsess about our own petty little lives and what we deserve...etc...etc ad nauseum.
          It is in this vain that I wrote my post. I feel it unfair on the schools and students that they must endure an inferior product whilst paying for it out of the budgets. My point is that schools and students deserve better and that if they are made aware of the issues then they will be in a better position to make informed decisions and not just accept the low quality ALTs being thrown at them.

          Comment


          • #6
            If it's just pronunciation you are worried about, think for a moment. The U.S. alone has over 30 accents/dialects, and you probably wouldn't want some of them in a classroom, but it's still American! I've spoken to Irish, Scottish, New Zealander, and Aussie teachers with strong accents, sometimes too hard for me to pick up on. Where do you draw the line? You're not the one who did the hiring.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by NorthByNorthwest View Post
              "ping-pong, rasta-dem and bugga bugga" accents." I said something similar like that once and got threatened with 're-education camp' (ie. corporate sensitivity training). Apparently only complimentary descriptions are allowed. For example, the delightful softly-spoken patois of the ooga booga obama whamma African.... oops. Well, I tried...
              lol! That made me laugh. Which DPRK re-education camp did they take you too?!

              Comment


              • #8
                The old "I speak proper American English" doesn't mean squat. Businesses don't give a ____ about it if they can pay a non native speaker less and receive little negative feedback. What many native English speakers have to learn, Americans mostly, is that they get so bent out of shape when someone says "tomahto" instead of "tomeito" that it negatively affects their ability to function properly. Get over it. The student is not going to be giving presidential speeches on TV. The only thing they need to do is speak in a way that a native speaker can understand. If the native speaker has issues with slight pronunciation differences, then maybe it is not the students fault that the conversation lulled.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by itabashiku View Post
                  The old "I speak proper American English" doesn't mean squat. Businesses don't give a ____ about it if they can pay a non native speaker less and receive little negative feedback. What many native English speakers have to learn, Americans mostly, is that they get so bent out of shape when someone says "tomahto" instead of "tomeito" that it negatively affects their ability to function properly. Get over it. The student is not going to be giving presidential speeches on TV. The only thing they need to do is speak in a way that a native speaker can understand. If the native speaker has issues with slight pronunciation differences, then maybe it is not the students fault that the conversation lulled.
                  Avery narrow and defeatist view. These students may very well be giving presidential speeches one day. An ALT offers more than pronunciation skills, there is a whole wealth of knowledge that can be imparted; including culture, history, idioms, etc. Non natives cannot do that. Also, if your'e going to have an ALT why not have a good one instead of someone whose command of English is minimal at best. By the way, I never said that I was American.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by monkeydog View Post
                    Avery narrow and defeatist view. These students may very well be giving presidential speeches one day. An ALT offers more than pronunciation skills, there is a whole wealth of knowledge that can be imparted; including culture, history, idioms, etc. Non natives cannot do that. Also, if your'e going to have an ALT why not have a good one instead of someone whose command of English is minimal at best. By the way, I never said that I was American.
                    Is it defeatist? I call it realist. There is no way in hell that you are going to uproot thousands of college-educated native English speakers from their homeland and bring them into Japan.
                    I doubt that.
                    You're right, but you smack of one.
                    FYI that part wasn't necessarily aimed at you. Just my years of experience of watching native English speaking Americans talk with or about non native English speakers inside and outside of Japan.
                    Anyway, Ganbatte ne. Maybe you can put ads on Craigslist in every city in the U.S. to try and recruit enough teachers.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by itabashiku View Post
                      Get over it. The student is not going to be giving presidential speeches on TV. T
                      So that means they should just slackoff and hire someone willy n nilly. What kind of reasoning is that?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by wernst View Post
                        So that means they should just slackoff and hire someone willy n nilly. What kind of reasoning is that?
                        No, I for one would like to see competent, college-educated English speakers teaching English in Japan. Sadly, the economics of it are unfeasible.

                        So, what are the B.O.E.'S options?
                        (1) Hire competent non native English speakers from 3rd world countries who would enjoy the increase in pay while providing (A) a great command of grammar rules, and (B) experience in learning a second language.
                        (2) Hire boastful HS level native English speakers who mostly are more interested in getting laid than teaching.


                        Why this topic keeps coming up 100s of times is baffling. It's not like anything anyone suggests here is going to change the relationship between Japan and English is going to have major changes.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          This guy is giving way too much credit to native ALTs, particularly at the level of English being taught. If we were speaking of high level English, his arguments would hold more weight. But at the level of English being taught by ALTs, it's absolutely fine to have non-native speakers teaching. There are other much more effective ways of improving the quality of teaching in Japanese schools than bringing in a bunch of untrained first-language teachers, most of whom have no experience in learning a second language themselves.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by monkeydog View Post
                            It is in this vain that I wrote my post. I feel it unfair on the schools and students that they must endure an inferior product whilst paying for it out of the budgets. My point is that schools and students deserve better and that if they are made aware of the issues then they will be in a better position to make informed decisions and not just accept the low quality ALTs being thrown at them.
                            I think you could pretty much say the same about any subject and about any public school system anywhere in the world. Most governments around the world claim they want the best education possible for their nation's children, unfortunately defining best usually is where all the problems begin. Even in cases where there is agreement on what is best, finding a way to pay for it is often easier said then done. I think that most people would agree that teacher salaries tend to be quite low in comparison to other occupations; however, tell the same people that their taxes are going to be increased or other services they use are going to be cut so that teachers can be paid more and they probably will not be very happy. The pie is only so big. Cutting somebody a bigger slice, unfortunately means somebody else is going to get less. The money has to come from somewhere. How do you think the public would respond if the Japanese Government announced tomorrow that it was going to establish a 5,000 yen per person/per year English Education Tax to help local BoEs offset the costs of hiring qualified native speaking ALTs to work in public schools?

                            Originally posted by monkeydog View Post
                            An ALT offers more than pronunciation skills, there is a whole wealth of knowledge that can be imparted; including culture, history, idioms, etc. Non natives cannot do that. Also, if your'e going to have an ALT why not have a good one instead of someone whose command of English is minimal at best.
                            Some questions.

                            Why can't a non-native ALT teach their students about their culture, their history, their idioms, etc.? Are you saying that a non-native ALT's culture, etc. is less important than a native ALT's?

                            Which English should be taught? American? British? Canadian? Austrailian? They all are slightly different, right? So whose culture, history, idioms should be taught?

                            How would you determine who is a good native English speaker and who isn't? Do you feel that being a native speaker equates to being a good teacher? Would you require even native ALT's to have post graduate degrees or TEFL, TEOSL certification?

                            Suppose that your BoE listened to your suggestions and decided to act on them by telling you they had decided not to renew your contract because they wanted somebody more qualified to teach their students. Would you accept their decision?

                            How is what you're suggesting really any different from what the JET Programme has been doing for the past 20+ years? Seems basically the same to me.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Shimi View Post
                              I think you could pretty much say the same about any subject and about any public school system anywhere in the world. Most governments around the world claim they want the best education possible for their nation's children, unfortunately defining best usually is where all the problems begin. Even in cases where there is agreement on what is best, finding a way to pay for it is often easier said then done. I think that most people would agree that teacher salaries tend to be quite low in comparison to other occupations; however, tell the same people that their taxes are going to be increased or other services they use are going to be cut so that teachers can be paid more and they probably will not be very happy. The pie is only so big. Cutting somebody a bigger slice, unfortunately means somebody else is going to get less. The money has to come from somewhere. How do you think the public would respond if the Japanese Government announced tomorrow that it was going to establish a 5,000 yen per person/per year English Education Tax to help local BoEs offset the costs of hiring qualified native speaking ALTs to work in public schools?



                              Some questions.

                              Why can't a non-native ALT teach their students about their culture, their history, their idioms, etc.? Are you saying that a non-native ALT's culture, etc. is less important than a native ALT's?

                              Which English should be taught? American? British? Canadian? Austrailian? They all are slightly different, right? So whose culture, history, idioms should be taught?

                              How would you determine who is a good native English speaker and who isn't? Do you feel that being a native speaker equates to being a good teacher? Would you require even native ALT's to have post graduate degrees or TEFL, TEOSL certification?

                              Suppose that your BoE listened to your suggestions and decided to act on them by telling you they had decided not to renew your contract because they wanted somebody more qualified to teach their students. Would you accept their decision?

                              How is what you're suggesting really any different from what the JET Programme has been doing for the past 20+ years? Seems basically the same to me.
                              An ALT is the representative of the English speaking world. And believe it or not the English speaking countries do have a shared heritage and culture and there are many cross overs including social values etc.... Simply put, a Filipino just doesn't have enough English cultural capital.
                              Your other point I have already answered:

                              " Others will say; "but they are native level because they studied in English at school". My reposte is simple. Proficiency is measured in many professions by experience. Often it is literally the hours one has in experience in a particular role that indicates one's level of ability. For example a pilots proficiency is measured based on flying time. Now, based on this I would argue that as I, a native English speaker speak English 95% of the time, including to my friends, family, colleagues, strangers etc. I am and should be more proficient than a non-native as when they are outside of the work environment they tend go back to their "mother tongue". In the case of Filiponos - anyone of their native languages, Jamaicans - Patois, Poles - Polish, Africans - anyone one of their many languages. Non natives basically have very little flying time"

                              Comment

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