ESU Professors Share Thoughts on Overcoming Language Barriers

Licensed by Creative Commons Non-native English-speaking professors use different methods to teach students in the best way.

Charlese Freeman

Student Life Editor

Many academics have made it a goal in the classroom to learn and adapt their teaching pedagogy to the different students they teach. Teachers adjust their teaching methods to meet the needs of students who are non-native English speakers. However, what about professors who speak English as a second language?

According to The Muse.com, “Living and working abroad, or even just working on a diverse team with international colleagues, can be exciting—new cultures, languages, and ways of expression are all around you.”

The muse continues “But, it can also be difficult, especially when you don’t understand the conversation. Even if you’re technically speaking the same language, working with people who have dialects or accents you’re not used to can be a very difficult feat.”

Like many forms of communication, a conversation, no matter the language or dialect is spoken, is a two-way street. In order to hold a conversation, the listener must be actively be engaged.

As active listeners, students should practice listening to their professors’ to help improve their ear for the dialect. 

“The first couple of days my brain has to process the accent, then it’s like autopilot,” said Gavin Nelson, ESU junior.

LifesHack states:  “All of these acoustic qualities can make non-native speech more challenging for native listeners to understand. It’s similar to how other types of listening challenges can affect perception.” LifeHack.com states, “Often the burden is placed on the non-native speaker to work toward becoming more easily understood. But there is more the listener can be doing to make the conversation a success.

Students continue to share their experiences with professors who speak English as a second language.

“I had a global politics professor who was Japanese. He had a very soft voice, so that made it better. He would mess up his words, and he would correct himself. Other times, we just got an idea of what he meant,” said senior English major, Edita Bardhi.“Now, one of my professors is Turkish, so his first language is Turkish. He speaks fluently, but you can tell English is not his first language because of his thick accent.” 

On the other hand, some professors consider the teaching material a “Lingua Franca” within the classrooms. 

It’s commonplace for both the students and professors to communicate within the world of academia.

“Math is its own language,” said Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Xuemao Zhang.

Email: Charlese at:

cfreeman2@live.esu.edu

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