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Not Native Teaching Assistant

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by NRLand, Aug 16, 2016.


Are there equal opportunities for not native english speaking TA's?

  1. Yes, definitely.

  2. Yes, as long as they are able to speak english.

  3. No, It is preferable english native speakers.

  1. NRLand

    NRLand New commenter

    Hello everyone,

    I would like to ask for opinion and different past experiences about teaching assistants whose mother tongue is not English. I am from Spain, I finished my postgraduate and luckily I got the QTS validating my studies from Spain. I am thinking about looking for a job as teaching assistant in London to gain experience and for future career prospects, but the fact that english is not my first language makes me wonder about my opportunities over a British person.

    What would you recommend me? Should I try? Is it common to find TA's with english as second language? Is anyone here on the same situation now or in the past? Does my slightly spanish accent less valuable as educator?

    I will appreciate any kind of advice.

  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi NRL

    I think your idea is sound. Many TAs who work in schools are from different countries. As long as people understand you the accent is not a problem. Your ability to speak Spanish may be an asset.

    Do you have any experience of working in UK schools? You might try volunteering as well if you can't find a TA role immediately. Are you primary or secondary trained?

    There are many teachers in the UK with varying accents, so do not worry. Teachers come from around the world to work here.

    NRLand likes this.
  3. Findlotte

    Findlotte Established commenter

    With EAL on the increase, you could be invaluable to a MFL department or to areas with high numbers of Spanish/Portuguese students.
    Sell yourself - you're an asset many schools are dying for.
  4. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Your written English is very good and much better than that of many British TAs that I have worked with.
    You would be an asset in both Primary and Secondary schools and, as pepper 5 said, your Spanish skills would be welcomed in most schools.
    Once you get used to how things operate in UK schools, I would suggest that you register with supply teaching agencies for long or short-term qualified teaching work. There is a Cover Supervisor role too that will pay more than most TA roles but less than qualified teacher rates.

    You could also approach schools direct to offer long or short-term services.
    pepper5 likes this.
  5. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Not so long ago I knew a Russian lady, a friend of my wife's. She was given a temporary teaching job, covering for teachers who were off sick or on maternity leave. However, she was so good at her job that they offered her a full-time post, teaching GCSE English! Her students' results were very good. Unlike most English teachers, who would not know what a subjunctive is, even if one were to bite them, this Russian lady's knowledge of English grammar is excellent and she was very thorough when it came to marking all of her students' work. (In the UK, most teachers of English do not seem to bother marking anything these days, although this might be because they are too busy going to meetings, doing useless paperwork because of OFSTED or being off sick with stress-related illnesses.)

    I have read many posts on this TES forum and so I would say that the OP's standard of written English is probably better than that of many English teachers. Therefore I do not think that she should become a teaching assistant. She should become a full-time teacher.
    pepper5 likes this.
  6. NRLand

    NRLand New commenter

    Hello everyone!

    Thank you so much for all your messages. I am sure this kind of comments will be helpful for a lot of people on a similar situation, on the same way they have been for me.

    It is a pity I have not visited this website for a long time, however, it has been a beautiful surprise.

    pepper5 likes this.
  7. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    "Are there equal opportunities for not native english speaking TA's?"

    I saw this question at the top of the page and it just proves my point that non-native speakers often have a better understanding of English grammar. Maybe they even know that "English" should have a capital "E" (something that the TES editors do not seem to know).
  8. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    What are you talking about? The OP is from Spain, so is not a native speaker (a 'non-native speaker', rather than, as they incorrectly put it, a 'not native speaker'). They have failed to use a capital letter for 'English', and have used an unnecessary apostrophe to make 'TA' plural, as well as in another part of their post using an unnecessary capital in 'it', and failing to use a capital for 'Spanish'. How does this prove your point that non-natives are better at grammar than natives? It doesn't.
  9. install

    install Star commenter

    Yes the hippo - there is a huge gap here in all knowledge of grammar amongst many teachers who went to UK schools
  10. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Well, I do not know this Spanish lady very well, but I do know that my wife's Russian friends got a job in the UK, teaching GCSE English. Unlike the other members of her department, she had excellent exam results and she did not take weeks off with depression and all kinds of stress-related mental illnesses.
  11. Dr_G-nome

    Dr_G-nome New commenter

    We have many TAs working at the school I work in whose first language is not English, many fulfil a role as Modern Foreign Language Assistants. You don't state your teaching subject, but have you thought about becoming a Modern Foreign Language (MFL) Assistant for a while? As far as I understand they're more or less the same as TAs, but specialise in MFL (Spanish/Italian/French/German etc). I'm pretty sure schools would be very pleased to have a native speaker to offer help.

    Something that might make you extra 'marketable' as a potential MLFA/TA... perhaps you could also offer your services as a native Spanish speaker, by way of offering to set up/help run an extra-curricular Spanish club etc?

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