lack of a second language

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lack of a second language

Unread postby Dominic1970 » 28 Mar 2009, 16:36

Hi I have just completed a course run by a British Council Accredited Language School in Northern Ireland; I have no doubts that the qualification I have will be accepted but I do have doubts about my employment prospects at the present time as I am only just begining to learn a second language. I can read basic Spanish and get around Spain OK but couldn't as yet be considered conversant on any meaningful level.
I have been told time and time again by various people that this should have no bearing at all on my immediate employment prospects but I am very doubtful about this. Could you be honest an help me with this?



Alex Case
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Re: lack of a second language

Unread postby Alex Case » 29 Mar 2009, 00:13

While what you have heard is very generally true, Spain is the only country I have been to where schools quite often asked for a particular level of Spanish in their job ads or asked about your level of Spanish in the interview. The practical reasons were school documents in Spanish (especially in schools that hire non native teachers or also teach French, German etc), admin staff who don't speak much English (or are too ashamed to), and teaching kids (and therefore needing to understand when they are swearing at each other and to be able to communicate with their very demanding parents). To be honest, though, employers just ask for things like Spanish because they can- there being no lack of teachers applying for each job. I also heard that MacDonalds in Spain asks for English and computer skills.

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Re: lack of a second language

Unread postby systematic » 29 Mar 2009, 04:49

Alex Case wrote:While what you have heard is very generally true, Spain is the only country I have been to where schools quite often asked for a particular level of Spanish in their job ads or asked about your level of Spanish in the interview.

That is probably a very accurate statement Alex - it would also be interesting to know if the schools in north-eastern Spain require TEFFLers to know Catalan ;) A good school wishing to attract quality teachers will strive to produce its contracts and other documentation at least in English.
A TEFL teacher cannot forcibly be expected to have any command of the language of his/her host country.

I worked in Thailand for many years before I attained any degree of fluency in its difficult language. Also, to learn the pictographic languages of East Asia would pose a serious challenge to most people just wanting to teach there for a while, as I'm sure Alex certainly knows from his wide experience there; if such a requirement were enforced it would be the end of Asia as a TESOL destination for native English speakers.

However, a basic knowledge of any second language will certainly help a teacher to understand more about the constructs of language acquisition.
Much of the world's population is bilingual from birth, especially those in large or tribal countries that use one language as the national lingua franca, while in the provinces quite different local languages are used. India is the classic example, the vast Russian Federation is another, and I'm sure a similar situation exists in China. Even in the much smaller country of Thailand a fairly different language, a dialect of Lao, is spoken in the region where I live, but the people are bilingual, and there are a dozen or so tribal languages used extensively in other parts of the country, while in eastern Thailand the local language is a version of Khmer (Cambodian).

Even in Wales and Scotland many British natives are bilingual. The human being is surprisingly capable of learning several languages, and when not needed for academic purposes, no particularly high level of cognition is required. Anyone who stays in a country long enough will learn some the local language automatically - it's inevitable.
I offer any information or advice 'as is' and hope that it has been of help. I am not an admin of this board, and my postings do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the board management.
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