Best advice for non-native speakers teaching in English
September 18, 2011 3:55 AM   Subscribe

I am going to be teaching a short course on "Teaching and Presenting in English" to some Spanish postgraduate students (in Spain). They will be going on in the future to present at international conferences or maybe teaching in English speaking universities. Please help me hive-mind... especially those of you who have taught/presented/been taught/presented at in a second language. What do you wish you had known beforehand? What advice would you give someone about to present in English? Is there anything an English speaking audience would expect that, say, a Spanish speaking audience wouldn't?
posted by itsjustanalias to Education (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My experience comes as someone who works with many ESL students in my school. Make a conscious effort to not use figures of speech and other such expressions as they are very confusing. Try not to use a lot of 25 cent words, keep it simple with your adjectives and word choices. Be aware of overusing "you know?" and "like".

I find it's harder to just "wing" lessons for these students; I have to consciously watch the words I use to make sure I am understood as easily as possible. Hope that helps.
posted by NoraCharles at 9:23 AM on September 18, 2011

I passed this question on to a friend from Peru whose first language is Spanish and who has taught and presented at conferences in both Spanish and English. He made three points (which I now paraphrase, errors are mine): (1) in Spanish one speaks around the point in a spiral pattern, while in English it is preferred to go directly to the point; (2) relatedly, the advice "tell them what you're going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them" is often given in English, and an English-speaking audience may expect that type of explicit structure; (3) there are cultural differences in humour, beware.
posted by stebulus at 12:00 PM on September 22, 2011

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