it is perceived that the only advantage non-native speaking teachers have over native speakers is our ability to explain grammar, thanks to both our own learning experience and our ability to explain the grammar in the students’ mother language.
Non-native language teachers are thought of as good teachers of grammar.
Well that might be true, but I think it is not all that important. I’m gonna switch sides here, and take on non-native teachers’ one prized possession, Grammar.
Regarding Grammar, native and non-native speakers have very opposing views:
Native speaking teachers say: don’t study grammar, don’t read grammar books, which makes no sense whatsoever. Native speakers say that because grammar comes naturally to them, they can’t explain it.
At the opposite end we have non-native speaking teachers who focus too much on grammar, because basically it is what we know,
I was guilty of that myself, overcorrecting and over explaining grammar.
The 2 extremes: don’t study grammar at all, focus too much on grammar.
As you might have guessed, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
One of the most common mistakes people make is to learn individual words, and then they read grammar textbooks to figure out how to connect those same words.
Language learners have this dualistic approach to language acquisition: Vocabulary and Grammar as two separate parts of the language.
You should never learn individual words, you should always learn words in combination with other words and in a sentence.
When you learn words in a sentence, you learn grammar too, and the best way to do that is by using Monolingual Learner’s Dictionaries.
Every monolingual dictionary provides an example sentence or two with every word and in bold highlights some important grammar, like collocations and prepositions, something native speaking teachers know nothing about.
Fortunately for non-native speakers of English, English grammar is not all that difficult, especially when you compare it to the grammar of other widespread languages like Russian, Spanish, German.
The problem with English grammar is not that people don’t understand it, the problem is that learners are not able to retrieve it quickly enough.
Most language learners understand the present simple, past simple, present perfect but they struggle to quickly put a sentence together.
So it is not about over-explaining or not explaining at all but rather language teachers should help the learner Remember the appropriate grammar.
That is why I wrote a grammar book, focusing on how to remember grammar and use it in a real life situation.
Although my book English Grammar and Functions is sold as a standalone textbook, it is best used as supplementary material to my first book Virtually Native.
Grammar is not something that should be studied in isolation, grammar is an integral part of one’s overall approach to language and I've laid out my approach, my method of learning English in my first book Virtually Native.