What are English Teachers lacking nowadays in terms of the language itself?There are many English teachers nowadays worldwide who do not know English ( even though they are native speakers) and...

What are English Teachers lacking nowadays in terms of the language itself?

There are many English teachers nowadays worldwide who do not know English ( even though they are native speakers) and they  intend teaching others what they can not handle by themselves.I would like to read opinions of other teachers or students about what do they consider is the flawless point in the majority of english teachers.

Thanks ;)

Expert Answers
shcashdan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Number 10 hits all of the points I would have hit, save one: I supervised English student teachers for several years in TN and was frequently appalled at their grammar -- grammar which had NOT been corrected in ANY of their preparatory classes. Some of these student teachers WERE superb teachers, and I praised/encouraged energetically. But their teaching clearly revealed that many did NOT know/could not use subject-verb agreement ["he don't," "it don't"]; could not match pronouns and antecedents ["a visitor should watch their language"]; misused pronouns ["myself and my family went to church"]; misused such common verbs as lie/lay or sit/set;  . . .Worse, besides their speech sounding uneducated, their handouts and even board work reflected these problems and others: poor spelling, misuse of homonyms [too, to, two; there, their, they're]; incorrect punctuation; sentence fragments. Our teaching curriculum was largely to blame; "grammar" classes were theoretical and "historical" rather than practical, as were many "education" classes. [Let me not omit the deleterious effects of the language used in television and radio programs, as well as that used in my beloved country-and-western music and in other NON-beloved "music" soiling the airways.] APPROPRIATE use of the university's writing lab could have provided the missing knowledge, and pure ol' rote repetition covers a multitude of sins. APPROPRIATE electives, such as a GENUINE review of grammar, WOULD have filled in the gaps. My few non-native student teachers generally had better grammar than did my born-and-raised, since they had LEARNED it rather than merely HEARING it. Only ONE class in how to teach English was offered through the English Department, and there is NO way for a single class, which must endeavor to cover so much territory, to remedy the problem of student teachers who cannot use their language ACCURATELY. Education professors either did not notice or did not care about grammatical accuracy, else the more egregious errors would NEVER have been allowed to persist in student work. Because the "education" curriculum is stuffed with essentially useless classes which often bombard students with theory, statistics, and professors' pet projects, would-be teachers have NO room in their curricula for electives which might TEACH them their language. Criteria for admission to English teacher education often fail to filter out those who cannot use English correctly, although SOME universities do offer a second chance at admission after the aspirant has taken various remedial courses; with so much enrichment available via computer these days, dedicated and motivated students COULD polish up their language use. [Let me admit right up front that over half of the freshmen admitted to my university required REMEDIAL or DEVELOPMENTAL classes in English and/or math, a stat which does NOT speak well for high schools. . . I used to teach high school, and conditions have deteriorated HIDEOUSLY; NOT generally the fault of the teachers.]

So: YES, we have new and not-so-new teachers of English who cannot use their own language correctly. YES, there is a huge difference between being an expert and being able to TEACH from that expertise. [We've all had brilliant professors who should have been confined to their libraries, labs,offices, and computers.] If forced to choose, I would opt for the ability to teach -- but why SHOULD we have to choose? There ARE fixes available; however, those fixes require a MAJOR re-evaluation of the entire teacher-prep curriculum, not merely of the English portion. Departments and colleges of education and of English will have to cease their turf wars. Remedial/review courses in proper grammar, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, word use, etc. will have to be made both available and accessible, and curricula MUST be adjusted to include them as necessary. "Why can't the English teach their children how to speak?" applies, sadly, to Americans these days. [Would it improve if we outlawed rap music and ignorant "preachers"?]

jihyunkim67 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First of all, I would disagree with your assertion that "there are many English teachers nowadays worldwide who do not know English." I have been teaching in Korea and abroad for over 20 years, and while there may be a few who simply lack the dedication and discipline to keep up with the demands of effective and inspirational teaching of a constantly evolving language, like there is in any profession, most teachers that I come across are truly professionals who seriously and passionately care about the students they teach. It is definitely not easy, not a "9-5" job, and with numerous conferences, parent-teacher conferences, school meetings, and such, most teachers consider themselves to be truly altruistic in an environment in which the teachers are not always appreciated, especially if students fail to live up to their own expectations, the demands of the parents, and the meeting of district and state goals mandated by laws such as No Child Left Behind.

English Language Arts is one of the most complex teaching subjects, no offense to other teachers, and it entails a rich history of everything from Anglo-Saxon poetry to Renaissance sonnets and the complexities of Shakespeare, to modern free verse. Prose and poetry, both ancient and modern, require constant improvement of literary analysis skills and rhetorical comprehension skills. The language itself is broad, diverse, and flowing. Diction and syntax require constant effort when it comes to comprehension.


mizzwillie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with many of the points already made here as I have taught grades 7-12, student teaching seminars, and prison inmates in a prison setting.  I agree that teaching English/Language Arts is a complex task, one brought home to me when teaching a superb 6th grade teacher how to teach the English skills needed for the higher levels of English in grades 7-12.  I also agree that many of the graduates coming out of college now do not have the same grammar background as the generation now retiring from teaching.  In the crowded curriculum needed to pass state and federal testing, the time for the finer points of English gets lost.  I especially agree with post 8 that there is a major difference in knowing English yourself and being able to teach it well to others.  Methods of teaching have changed so much, for the better in my opinion, that a teacher must constantly learn and evaluate their own teaching skills.  I also have seen, much to my dismay, teachers who are better suited to another subject being forced to teach English without the proper preparation to do so.  All of this adds up to English being difficult to teach WELL, that we need to recognize and mentor those teaching English at the beginning of their careers, and help the public understand that all of us need to invest in children.  I believe that English teachers feel the most personal pressure to teach well and do their best to meet that ideal goal.

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am not quite sure I understand what you mean by teachers who are native speakers but do not "know" English -- that seems a bit of an oxymoron. It is true that some TESOL companies hire people who have no formal training in grammar or linguistics in order to save money. Teaching English, as any other skilled profession, does require training. Most teachers with graduate degrees in English are adequately trained within their areas of specialization. Teachers lacking PhDs will have less comprehensive and less deep knowledge of English language and literature than those who do have that credential. You might also note that English consists of many subfields and that an expert in Old English, or gender theory, or professional writing, or Victorian poetry may have limited knowledge outside that area.

For K-12, I would say that the increasing emphasis on methods means that many teachers are woefully underprepared in the subject matter they are expected to teach. In many universities, it has become necessary to offer special quasi-remedial sections for teaching majors because they are unprepared to take normal undergraduate courses in the subject matter they will be teaching.


wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is a difference between knowing a subject and knowing how to teach that subject.  My husband is a talented network engineer but he often has trouble teaching me how to handle simple computer tasks.  Teaching requires much more than just the knowledge of the subject.  One must also consider that there is much more to language than just general vocabulary.  Native speakers are often lacking in the ability to articulate certain grammar rules and language specifics.  They might hear what sounds right or wrong but be unable to express the reasons why.  Many companies are now hiring native speakers to teach English.  Sometimes these companies offer training to their employees and sometimes they don't.  I can understand how a person without teacher training might have difficulty teaching English.  With that said, I would still have to disagree that many or most English teachers do not have a grasp on the language despite being native speakers.  I would venture to suggest that this type of situation is actually the rare exception rather than the norm.

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would respond along the lines of post #4 and say that certain types of language knowledge are not "in demand" in this era. Sentence diagramming seems less important than fitting in more reading skills into an already crowded curriculum. 

There is no reason to doubt in the veracity of your experience with teachers who are unfamiliar with the grammatical terrain of English. Does this mean these teachers are unequipped to instruct you in reading, in writing, and in argumentation?    

If a teacher is weak in a particular area that doesn't equate to an overall weakness. I'd be the first to admit however that there are weak teachers out there in all disciplines. But people can get better. 

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sadly, many teachers in many schools do not teach the primary subject in which they majored in college. In one middle school in which I taught, several of the teachers were graduates of collegiate elementary school education programs, meaning they were not English majors. Several were much better suited to teach math or science, but the principal assigned them to teach English anyway. It always bothered me that many students were not receiving instruction from a qualified teacher who had been specifically schooled in the subject they taught, but such is life in many public schools.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All English teachers know English, but they do not necessarily know it well enough to teach it.  There are so many complexities to the English language, including that complicated grammatical ticks, that may make it difficult for even native speakers to teach the language well.  Not every English teacher knows how to diagram a sentence, but then again not every English teacher has to.  You have to know what you teach and beyond that, but you don’t need to know everything.  Also, knowing something and being able to explain it are two different areas.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I assume that you are talking about people who teach English in, say, Japan.  What often happens in these cases is that you have teachers who really do not speak English on a regular basis.  They may have an academic knowledge of the language, but they are not fluent enough to really speak well.  Therefore, they end up teaching in a way that does not allow their students much of a chance to speak the language.

shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We don't do a whole lot with the technical aspects of grammar anymore. I'm talking about the slightly higher level things like verbals, sentence diagramming, etc. I don't know if that's because we don't know as much about it or if we are just too busy doing other things, but it's not something we are told to teach these days.

salimj | Student

I am shocked to see this post. I cannot understand the fact English teachers not knowing English!!! This is just like a driver who doesn't know how to drive. In case if the matter is true then we have to blame the system and I also feel that this is dangerous to the language itself.

cnftbobo | Student
They do not teach the appropriate grammar rules and they use englis which are inappropriate.
gadau86 | Student

I would like also to contribute to this discussion as long as English Teaching is concerned.I think that most of teachers are not trained well to the extent of imparting knowledge to the students.Maybe it is so, since we don't have similar ways to train them. For example, when i was pursuing my study in about three years ago,it was as if i was i native speaker the way the training was going on.I was not trained in a way that  could have impact to the students in learning English. In fact it was for modules completion and not otherwise.I therefore face lots of challenges in teaching English especially to the non-English communities.

isuwi | Student

yes very true.i think most of the english teachers nowadays lack the language..though some can handle the speech of language...they are not very good in grammer and spellings.  but some arent good at their speech too. that is exactly one reason why the students nowadays dont contain the richness in language and the slang language is more prevailed. nowadays thorougly qualified teachers are rare to find so schools take people who are only qualified elemantarily.and it is a very sad situation which put the students' lives in risks.

just-s | Student

well i don't fully agree with you because i have a well gifted teacher, who speaks absolutely fantastic English......and is an excellent teacher as well and receives awards yearly for receiving the most amount of A's from the matrics he teaches....well maybe you can Be right in a way....because it can be happening elsewhere and i may have not noticed it?;-)

pinkme2012 | Student

What I meant is that not all english teachers have an accurate comprehension of grammar structures and literature.

It´s like what post #7 said,"All English teachers know English, but they do not necessarily know it well enough to teach it."

I am not saying that all English teachers are like that or so,but I have seen a considerable percent that are teaching and do not have the skills to do so.

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