Monday, 29 June 2015

Discussions--Series 29--Professional English Teachers Network

Please read Post 68 and then come back here. Thanks.

Discussions—Series Twenty-Nine

Topic 96
I wonder why so many teachers use "English teacher" instead of "teacher of English" or "English language teacher" when talking about their profession. They confuse profession with nationality.
Jessica Hermosilla Magaña Researcher. Teacher of English and Spanish.
Top Contributor

Teacher of Language at Selfemployed
Top Contributor
Very simple dear ... they are directly translating from their own language ... I have many Chinese students who say ... my Chinese teacher instead of my teacher of Mandarin ... TESL is not easy ... you have to change their mindset .....

Researcher. Teacher of English and Spanish.
Top Contributor
I can understand that some students make that mistake but I am talking about teachers, not students. As language teachers, they must pay attention to the way the use the L2, especially when they refer to their profession and when others can see that as it happens on Linkedin.

Top Contributor
English teacher or teacher of English are the same. English language teacher may suggest that this person may be a TESOL instructor and not an English teacher. And no, there is no confusion that English teacher is a teacher of English. Just because I am an English teacher does not mean that I am ethnically English. I see no distinction between any of them because in English we say English teacher, Spanish teacher, etc. Can I say teacher of Spanish? Sure, but why when it's easier to say English teacher? It is a direct translation of the L1 when a student uses teacher of English, but it is not wrong, just as "He is a friend of mine" is not wrong. I can just as easily say, "He's my friend."

Top Contributor
Jessica I can see where you're going; an Indian teacher would mean a teacher from India. Does this mean that a British national or an American would take 'English teacher' the way you mean it? But Laura seems to say the expression is OK as it is. Please clarify.

online tutor
Top Contributor
Good question! What's a maths teacher then? English is just the name of the subject and not an adjective in this context. I don't think you could say an Indian teacher, because there is no such language. An Australian teacher of English wouldn't be an Australian teacher, would they? People often talk about a Chinese teacher because they don't know that there is more than one version or they think it's obvious which one it is. I would say I'm an EFL tutor or a tutor of English as a Foreign Language.

A math teacher is a math teacher. An English teacher teaches either writing in English, grammar in English, speaking/listening in English, and reading English. All my teachers who taught me English in school were and are English teachers. I teach English. Australians speak English and therefore they will teach Australian English and a British person will teach British English. I am an American and so I teach American English. When I teach writing to Americans, I tell them I am teaching them Academic English so I do not offend speakers of Black English. A Chinese person who taught the language of Chinese would be a Chinese teacher. An English person who taught Chinese would be a Chinese teacher. If the teacher is teaching one of the many languages of Chinese instead of Mandarin, then that teacher would be _______ teacher. English language has thousands of words that have double or triple duties and such is the reason for English teacher. If I want to specify, then I do. Many of my students were taught British English, which is all fine and good UNTIL differences are reached (punctuation especially). It is not hard for students to understand that in the United States and as an American, I am teaching them AmerEnglish. In the U.S., we follow American English rules. In the EU, we follow British English rules. My program is English Language Program at one college and at another I teach Developmental English -- I teach English. Am I the same type of teacher a native would find in public grammar school? No. I am a linguist and that is my training, with a declared master's in TESOL. I teach English. I am an English teacher. In Britain, I would probably be defined as an American English teacher because that is the language I teach. If a Brit taught American English, that Brit would be an American-English teacher. The hyphen can help with some things since it makes a distinction in how the adjective is applied and said. I'm off to teach English now! :-)

Researcher. Teacher of English and Spanish.
Top Contributor
Laura: You said "English teacher or teacher of English are the same". They are not. An English teacher means that the person is English. We are talking about the nationality.
Then you said: "English language teacher may suggest that this person may be a TESOL instructor and not an English teacher". This is not the case. This is another way to refer to the profession. Adding "language" makes us know that we are not talking about the nationality.
Being an English teacher does mean that the person is English.

You admitted that saying "English teacher is easier". But easier does not mean it is correct.
Then you said "it is a direct translation of the L1 when a student uses teacher of English". Do you mean it is a literal translation?

You can say "He is a friend of mine" or "He's my friend." But this is different, there is no confusion. A language is not the literal translation of another language, it deals with the way people who belong to a certain culture express themselves.

Anne: I think that you are talking about something very different. We cannot compare "a maths teacher" with "an English teacher". Maths has nothing to do with nationality. We are talking about using a word that refers to a profession and another that refers to nationality. We cannot talk about "science teacher" and "English teacher" in the same way, as the word "science" clearly refers to the subject.

K R Lakshminarayanan: I think you are right. An Indian teacher is a teacher from India. Another example: "English soldier", "Spanish soldier", "English teacher", Spanish teacher". We are talking about the nationality.

I think that the problem arises when we use the word "English" for example, to refer to a subject without considering that it also refers to a nationality. And that is why we say "English language teacher", using the word "language" to make the difference between that phrase and "English teacher". And we also use "teacher of English" that is a bit more specific.

Laura: I think that you talk about too many things that are not pertinent to the topic. You also said "If a Brit taught American English, that Brit would be an American-English teacher". Please, think about it, American English is an accent or could refer to literature, but that is not a profession.

I think that probably if you were talking about an English teacher as in nationality, the stress would be on English as opposed to on teacher, perhaps to show contrast. I'm an English teacher but my friend is Scottish. I think usually it would be clear from context. It isn't really true to say that American English is just an accent. I could also say that I am a standard British English teacher. I am certainly not teaching Geordie. Or perhaps it should be bog-standard!! I could also say that sadly, English does not actually count officially as a nationality anyway. Hence the need to tick "United Kingdom" boxes.
Prof.Iyer Baalank likes this

Maitre de Langue at University of Versailles Saint Quentin-en-Yvelines
I'm a prof d'anglais (that simplifies it all for me, lol). I'm a kiwi but I probably wouldn't say kiwi teacher otherwise people would wonder why birds need teaching. I think English teacher and teacher of English are both correct. You do need to watch the stress and context to get the meaning correct though. An English TEACHER would suggest the teacher was from England but an ENGLISH teacher would be someone like me.
Giovanna B.Laura Eyler and 2 others like this

We need to consider the different functions of the word 'English' in English that are possible here.

English - is a noun used to describe:

* a subject or area of study related to English language and/or literature

* the language itself (including all the regional varieties)

English - is also an adjective used to describe:

* nationality or origin of a person/thing from England

In fact, I AM an English teacher, even though I'm from New Zealand, because I teach the subject of English.

So I'm an English teacher.
I speak (NZ) English.
But I'm not English. I'm a New Zealander.
However, my sister was married to an English man. He drove an English sportscar.

All are, in fact, true and correct for me.

Native speakers aren't making a mistake - we are using the word in one of it's accepted uses.
Giovanna B.Laura Eyler and 3 others like this

Jessica, American English is NOT an accent. British English is NOT an accent. There are distinctions in spelling, pronunciation, punctuation, inference, etc. American English has several different accents. If you were familiar with the US, then you would know this. The southern states have more pronounced diphthongs on their vowels, amongst other differences. Black English is not necessarily in reference to African Americans but to the language cultivated between the slaves and the Carolinas during slavery. The southwestern US also has what is called a twang on their pronunciations. The upper Northeast has an accent. American English is a language. British English is a language and those speakers can place each other in an area by their accents on English.

No, Jessica, a Mexican can teach English and that Mexican would be an English teacher whether in Mexico or the U.S. The English are The British. It is the article "the" that makes the nationality. The Chinese are people who are Chinese and who speak Chinese and a Chinese teacher can be from anywhere in the world as long as that teacher teaches that language.

If I have to add language as in English language teacher, then I am placing emphasis on the language apart from the L1 and I am focusing on language acquisition and that is it. It can be inferred that the students who are taught by this type of teacher may come out illiterate in English, but they will be able to speak the language.

Diana is correct and I understand that her sister was married to a man from England because she said Englishman. Here "English" is used as a nationality, not as a modifier to teacher.

Yes, indeedy Frances! Stress makes a difference as well! Kudos for bringing that up.

In order to understand what the teacher is teaching, we MUST use the forms available to us in our language. Native speakers have no problem understanding what subject the teacher is teaching when s/he says that s/he is a Spanish teacher. My French teacher in high school was not from France. The Spanish teacher was not from Spain. If you are teaching English where you are, then you are an English teacher. You would also be a teacher of English. It makes no difference although the accepted form in English is Adjective + Noun. If the only adjective we have is English, Chinese, Tibetan, Parsi then we MUST use it as an adjective. Teacher is a noun. In and of itself, there is no distinction in subject area. In order to indicate what the subject area being taught is, we MUST modify it; thus, English teacher.
Anne FraserGiovanna B. and 3 others like this

Professor of English at PES School 0f Engineering,Bangalore
Top Contributor
Jessica dear! Am I correct in calling myself as 'Professor of English'?

Funnily enough, I think it is much more common to say Professor of..... I completely agree with Diana and Laura, (although I wouldn't say the English are the British - contentious in the rest of the UK!). My last Spanish teacher was English. I never referred to her as an English Spanish teacher or a non-Spanish Spanish teacher. If you wanted to clarify, you could just say the Spanish teacher is from England or is English. Easy really.

LAURA: Sorry but I do not agree with you. I do think American English is an accent.
According to Cambridge dictionary, the "English definition of “accent” is
noun the way that someone speaks, showing where he or she comes from:
a British accent
a French accent

I think that American English does not have different accents, it has different dialects and sociolect and idiolect.

According to Oxford University dictionary:
"A dialect is a non-standard form of language that is used in a particular local region. Examples of English dialects are Geordie (from NE England, especially Tyneside) and Scouse (from Liverpool). Here are some examples of dialect words included in the Oxford Dictionary of English. Words described as ‘northern English’ may be from any northern English regional dialect:
standard English: alley; northern English: ginnel; Scottish: vennel."

On the other hand, you said that "we MUST use the forms available to us in our language". However, using what is available does not mean it is correct.

Is it the same to say "Spanish teachers are on strike" and "teachers of Spanish are on strike"?

I'm sorry but I'm getting a contradictory picture. As an Indian, I have no problem saying I'm an English teacher (meaning a teacher of English). When I say I'm a Tamil teacher, my statement is understood as teacher Tamil but if I were to refer to regions where Tamil is the mother tongue I'd say I'm a Tamilian (adding the English suffix).

Nicely done K R! Jessica, your original question was about accent, not dialect. The two are completely different.

AmerEnglish is a language just as BritEnglish is a language; accents are different. An American can affect a British accent and a Brit can affect an American accent. In fact, many viewers in this country did not know that Hugh Laurie (House) is a British English actor with the attendant British accent on English.

Since English is ruled by word order, then the forms of the word must adhere to the order the language requires. I cannot say in English and be correct the following: "Staying you are way in the" anymore than I could say: Englishly teachers are Englished when their teaching in countrying. First of all, there is no adverb or participial form of English. English has only one form. That one form can be used as noun or adjective. We have TONS of words with one form that have multiple functions. Ponder "for." "For" is a preposition and it is a conjunction. Verbs have forms (infinitive, simple, past, present participle, past participle). I must use the correct form of the verb to make a good sentence. I cannot simply put forms of words in random order nor can I make up forms where none exist.

Yes Jessica, Spanish teachers are on strike is the same as teachers of Spanish are on strike. If I meant the Spanish, I would add the article and change my stress on Spanish to indicate nationality. The SPAnish teachers are on strike. Yes, stress naturally falls on the "spa" but if I am indicating nationality I place emphasis on the natural stress, making it sound especially stronger.

Until you have visited the regions of the South, the Southwest, and the Northeast in the United States, then you will remain unaware of these accents on English. Reporters have a mid-western accent on English, which in AmerEnglish is the least accented. That is probably what you are used to hearing. Chicagoans have a nasal accent on words. Take, for example, the name Paulina. Mid-westerners will pronounce Paulina as follows \ˈpȯ-ˌlēnə\. Chicago accents say the same word: \'pȯ-ˈlīnə\. When I first moved to Chicago from downstate and told the taxi to take me to \ˈpȯ-ˌlēnə\ and Lawrence, he did not understand \ˈpȯ-ˌlēnə\ until I spelled it for him. He then politely told me that in Chicago, they say \'pȯ-ˈlīnə\. This is an example of accent.
Prof.Iyer Baalank likes this

Laura: Sorry but I think you need to read more about the meaning of language, accent, dialect, sociolect and idiolect to understand the difference betweeen them. If you say that "AmerEnglish is a language just as BritEnglish is a language". This is completely wrong. There is no such thing. It is like saying that Colombian Spanish is a language and Chilean Spanish is a language, and every single country has a different language. There are different accents, and different dialects.

On the other hand, you said "Jessica, your original question was about accent, not dialect". I have not asked any question about accent or dialect. I talked about the definitions only because you said that "American English is NOT an accent. British English is NOT an accent". But they are different accents of the same language: English.

So Portuguese is Spanish with a different accent by your definition. Yippee. I am enlightened. Is the horse dead yet?

Founding Principal at FAR NSW Holdings Trust
What a 'crock' subject ! I have been a teacher of English, vis-a-vis English teacher, in over 8 countries in numerous regions of the world. Language is contextual, and when one uses the terms 'English teacher', most people understand the intended meaning being conveyed by the speaker/writer. This topic, in my view, has its seeds in the mindset of a bored teacher of English with little meaningful topics to pursue. Why not devote more time to exploring with others significant phenomenon related to language learning, such as 'obstacles' that adult learners of L2 experience and how to ameliorate such ? Please lets 'let-go' of this 'no brainer' topic !

Learning Counsellor at TQ Education & Training
No, they don't. English is sometimes a subject in school or University and sometimes a nationality. I'm a native speaker, so I'm pretty sure I don't confuse nationality and subject and I'm also pretty sure I'm not making a mistake. Mr. Context will save the day!

Most languages are contextual. And, when learning a second language (L2) the functional aspects of language use (sending and receiving a message) are primary and fundamental. The acquisition and use of the structural aspects of language, in a more sophisticated manner (i.e. syntax, mechanics, etc), come with practice and further targeted learning. I would like to read more discussion on such topics; the nexus (of sorts) between functional and structural aspects of language learning and educating. Furthermore, there is also a growing number of adult language (L2) learners in the world - the L2 being English, Mandarin and Spanish. In Australia, the learning of Indonesian is also on the increase. I would like to read some more thoughtful discussion on 'obstacles' that adult learners of an L2, or as multi-lingual learners, encounter, and what methods and approaches can be used to ameliorate the impact of such on the adult language learning process.

Let's move-in from a debate on the semantics of what those involved in the learning and educating of English call themselves. Oh, by the way, in passing (I hope) I call myself an English Language Educator (Ltn: educare-to enable) and................ what is the size of a grapefruit ?
Some 'smart' academic may find this a useful PhD topic.
I try to deal with the real world !

Yes indeedy!
Richard Kelleher likes this

Private Tuition, Brain-Gym(R), Dyslexia Training
Another native speaker and English teacher here. I would like to agree with the person who mentioned Maths teachers and Science teachers. English, too, is a subject being learnt, thus a noun in this instance. We therefore have compound nouns here. And, as others have pointed out, context and intonation will deal with any doubts as to exact meaning. Jessica, what came first? Language as it is used or the theory written about in books? If you really want to know the facts, don't believe everything you read in books. Get out there and listen to the native speakers using the language. Do your own research. And stop telling native speakers how to speak their own language! That is rude!
Elena G.Prof.Iyer Baalank and 3 others like this

I invite comments on this message sent to me:

"stop telling native speakers how to speak their own language! That is rude!"
You are quite arrogant and pedantic. It is obvious you are not a professional.

No, Jessica, my dear girl, just truthful! And maybe, while you're at it, you'd like to define the word "professional"? No, on second thoughts, please don't.
Laura Eyler likes this

When studying for my masters' in Applied Linguistics, one of my instructors told our class that only native speakers know their grammar; thus, no matter what the native speaker speaks, his/her language is correct. Isn't that neat? Even when an L1 is wrong, s/he is right because on the L1 knows what is right.

Errrr....your instructor did not (I believe) inform you entirely accurately. Because persons whom acquire their mother tongue are immersed into the L1, in the home before they commence formal education, then the processes for how one learns the syntax (grammar and mechanics) of an L2 is somewhat different to that of one whom acquires competency and proficiency in L1, especially the structural aspects of language learning. It is not a matter of whom is right and wrong, better or lesser, faster or slower, it is a matter of DIFFERENT processes for different learners of either a L1 or L2 or multiple languages. Let's not forget that many people in the world (i.e. Philippines, PNG, Malaysia, etc) are raised, and then formally educated, in multi-lingual situations. I sense that some commentators here are attempting to make this debate into a race-based argument on language learning. This would be a shame ! Scratch below the skin surface, and we are all fundamentally the same and all people can be 'connected' through dance and song and food...............which often come before learning either a L1 or L2.

Whom can 'judge' if a person is truly being 'rude' and 'arrogant' and 'pedantic' ? It is unfortunate that the passions of some commentators have resulted in them being less than careful and caring with their chosen comments. When it comes to being a 'professional'.......well this is another 'what size is a grapefruit' question. I have worked with persons whom have had no formal qualifications in a particular field, and their workplace behaviours, attitudes and applied skills-sets have been highly commendable -very professional. I have also worked with some persons whom have had more letters behind their name than in their full name, but they have limited people skills, cannot work well in a team, and think they know much more than what they actually do........and try telling them that !
One of my education mentors said to me (good counsel I believe): "....If you want to get the best out of people find out what they are good at and build them up on that....."

The word 'educator' derives from the Latin - to enable, to build-up. So, a 'professional educator' would, one would think and hope, be dedicated to 'building-up' all people that she/he comes into contact with. It would be nice if we had lots more 'professional educators' in the world...........

And so it goes...the misuse of "whom." Oh well...L1s can make the error because it is the L1s error and s/he knows better. The L2 hears the error and repeats it and it becomes an error because the L2 (or 3 through infinity) needs must be corrected by the L1 who knows the rules and syntax yet breaks them both.

Laura, it seems to be that you are more interested in 'bringing down' people on minor errors, rather than building them up. I may be wrong. We all make errors, L1s, L2s and multi-lingual persons. From my observations, I may be 'in error', but I have found that many L1 do not 'know' the actual rules of grammar, they have acquired, over time in an immersion situation, the correct use of syntax.......most of the time. Your commentary on L1's and L2's, and their apparent proficiency and competency in a given language, is very combative. Have you got another agenda that you are trying to address through this discourse ? As I understand contemporary debate, among linguists and language teachers, the 'jury is still out', from an empirical viewpoint, on the peculiarities associated with L1 and L2 acquiring and learning the structural aspects of language. Chomsky (LAD), and Vygotsky and others, have written, at different chapters in history, thought-provoking papers on language acquisition and language learning, for both L1, L2 and multi-lingual language learners, but none of the theories have stood the test of empiricism. I am pleased to have a strong debate on any topic related to language acquisition and language learning, but I do not want to get bogged-down on petty point-scoring. "....Life is the 'journey' (how we travel it), not the destination.... (Dalai Lama)

Jessica, In Carer or professions, Definition is always simple and well chracterized, Teacher of English sounds very ODD AND UNETHICAL and can never be used, Those of us who teach like MATHS, is always known as Maths Teacher and not teacher of Maths so I hope this helps you to grasp more, It is good you asked because asking helps us to enhance our knowledge. I really disagree with my co contributor Laura, there is no way you quantify a teacher no matter which subject as teacher of, Please lets not send the wrong message to students who read our comments it will amout to murdering of our profession and that intergrity we all have. Do you refer to an electronic engineer as engineer of electronic?please lets be very mindful.

Learning Counsellor at TQ Education & Training
I didn't mean to stir up such a hornet's nest with my comment about being a native speaker, therefore being sure I'm not making a mistake! What I meant was that I'd acquired the rule of use for that language and that it's stood the test of time so I'm confident in it. I've also got 30 years teaching, a DTEFLA and an MA to rely on for insight as well. Of course native speakers need to do their language analysis just as non-native speakers do and I wouldn't make a value judgement about L1 and L2 speakers each of whom bring valuable insights to the job. It just seems fairly clear to me that Jessica is labouring under a misconception. I very much doubt that she intended to be rude.

Regards to Mr. Stephen's comment, I think Jessica is not only of misconception but I think she is completely out of contest, even look at her Name she put teacher of English, I hope she get to perspective and dont misleading those she thought she is teaching rather distroying them and their understanding

LOLOL And let's let the academic egos soar out of control! C'mon group, get your egos out of joint and let's just all try to respect each others' comments for what they are. Contributions. All of this "you are wrong" bovine feces is clearly indicative of academic posturing. It's been a long time since I've had this much fun! Let sun shine where we shan't put it! LOLOLO

Yes Laura, absolutely that is what we all be doing, sharing and expressing freely. it will help us make up where we came short.

I agree with you

Don't mince your words Laura. Tell us what you really think!

I think we also need to lighten up and maintain a sense of humour, perspective and professional courtesy. I do think that errors need to be corrected. If you see that as "bovine faeces" , Laura, as your charming expression went, then we are going to have to agree to differ.

Hello Stephen, yes I think Laura was not comfortable with issues raised which I think gives negative opinion if we dont accept and see views raised as an advice