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Language Assistant interview, advice please!

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by OTTER, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. I would add to that:
    • understands the grammar of their own language.
    • speaks clearly, without a pronounced regional accent.
    • is enthusiastic about their language/culture/country.
    • speaks enough English so that there are few communication problems.
    • not too judgemental. (I have had a German FLA who told the whole staffroom off for not being punctual)
    Buena suerte
     
  2. But such a person would be difficult to find, wouldn't they? I don't know any person without a hint to their region in their speech. I think what is important is that they can "switch the accent off".
    Not really????? How can someone do that???
     
  3. Well I am thinking here about Spanish which comes in so many rich and varied varieties. I have an Argentinian acquaintance who I have to really listen very hard to to understand. She has never been to Spain, she can't switch codes, any more than I can speak with an American accent. If she were to be an FLA here the students would have lots of problems understanding her and might end up with Patagonian Spanish. So perhaps it is not an issue with German but it can be with other languages.
     
  4. On her first day at school, the bell went for the end of break. She looked around and when nobody moved, she stood up and tapped her watch. 'In Austria we are punctual' she announced. It was the first of many 'bigging up Austria' comments, she did not endear herself. Poor lass was probably homesick.
    Yes I know she was Austrian, but she was our German assistant, if you see what I mean.
     
  5. You say that but I think that it does matter. A friend of mine used to work for the Berlitz school in Regent Street, London. A very expensive place to learn English, with lots of one to one tuition.
    I attended several parties at his house and he used to invite his current students. He was a very nice, sociable guy. However he had a very thick Sunderland accent. So did all his students. You always knew when you were talking to one of his.
    Now I have nothing against this accent, I married a Geordie. However it is very far from being standard English. If I was spending lots of money on an English course I would not want to end up with a non-standard variety.
    In the same way English students of Spanish would not want to end up speaking a version that was not universally understood/known. It somehow defeats the object i.e. broadening communication not narrowing it down.
     
  6. In my opinion it depends on the student degree of proficiency. Someone with an upper intermediate level or over would appreciate getting to know and differenciate different accents, once they are familiar with the traits of the standard variety. For beginners and lower intermediates, the introduction of new varieties will just mess them up. In Spanish it tends to happen with people from the south, when they say things like "dejao" they confuse the students who have always learnt "dejado" for example.
     
  7. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    I always need to think carefully about how to say numbers in French, as the Swiss way of saying them is different (and, may I say, so much more logical!). I would have second thoughts about employing a Canadian French assistant - as Otter said, it would depend whether they can soften their accent enough to be understandable.
    I don't think it's outrageous to ask someone to do that (think David Tennant and Doctor Who, for instance). In the same way as I understand that my students will be tested on their ability to understand standard French numbers and the standard French accent, I need to prepare them in that way. I like highlighting the difference when it presents itself though (although it backfired slightly when I was a trainee and my Y10 students started using Swiss numbers because they were easier than the French ones! [​IMG])
     
  8. Nickyga

    Nickyga New commenter

    I teach my students the Swiss numbering system ( also used by the Belgians I might add) The French do not have the monopoly on the language and all the French understand the Swis/Belgian numbers so why not? I was totally fed up as a teenager having to do mental mathematical juggling every time I need to do numbers. You try doing 95 - 78 in your head quickly in French! I teach my students to recognise soixante quinze etc for recognition purposes only and some enjoy being able to use them but for those of us who are mathematically challenged, albeit good linguists, use septante, octante and nonante to your hearts content. Never again will I let students feel flummoxed because they cannot give their mobile phone number out in a timely fashion using silly French numbers. The level of difficulty is way too hard in the beginning phases when you just want to communicate and learn refinements later.
     
  9. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    Hmm, you make a good point, and actually I'm sure a lot of French people would work out the number if you said "huitante-cinq" to them - just like a Swiss person would work out the French numbers if a French person used them. Anyone else out there going for that strategy?
     

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