Working with and championing non-native speaker trainees on recent CELTAs, I have been left wondering when it comes to their own use of English. I can get them to correct errors in written assignments and warn them to be more careful next time. But what about spoken English? It’s disconcerting when you want to give a trainee guidance with ‘When you next teach grammar…’ and thinking you’ve asked a question, they cut in with ‘tomorrow’. Or the misuse of articles, or when in supervised lesson planning and group ‘feedbacks’, they ask questions like:
How do you call…?
Why you say…?
Why you don’t…?
Can you tell me what is it?
I’m torn between maintaining the CELTA standard and thinking about English as an International language, which would surely hold that the absence of auxiliaries in object questions is now becoming standard in Kachru’s expanding circles of users of EIL. Are my pleas on feedback sheets to ‘watch your English’ becoming pedantic in this context and rendering me hypocritical as a believer in EIL? It could depend on:
- whether or not the error is made in a lesson, and further, if it’s an error with something other than the target language – given that the criteria call for accurate models but make no mention of the trainee’s accuracy generally
- the trainee’s career goals – it’s been said by a key figure at Cambridge that if they only intend to teach in their own country…
- their future students’ learning goals, which could render EIL insufficient, if one is aiming e.g. for an IELTS 8
Regardless of anyone’s goals, we as tutors are sending them out into the world with an international qualification and surely I should see myself as a responsible tutor not a pedant? Answers on a postcard please.