Are Native English Speakers the best Language Teachers?

The world is changing! When a business man in China talks to a business man in France, what language does he use?

Nowadays, businesses may ‘outsource’ to companies all over the world. For example, a film company in Australia may use a Polish company to do their graphics, an Indian company to do their sound editing and a company in Germany to do their location searches. They use English to ‘talk’ to each other and so English has become the ‘Lingua Franca’ or language of common use.

It is interesting, that even in countries such as Norway, Sweden and Denmark, where people traditionally could understand each other’s languages; now choose to communicate in English.

That is why students need to learn to understand English accents from all around the globe. Cambridge exams now use a variety of accents for the listening tests and are emphasising the importance of not relying on the traditional British accents.

So, having an ‘accent’ other than the traditional English one is no disadvantage to being an English teacher. Non native English speaking teachers who have had to learn learnt and English teachers who have learnt another language are usually wonderful English teachers. They understand the challenges of language learning. They tend to have a greater understanding of grammar structures than native English speakers and they tend to be more sympathetic to the frustrations of language learning.

So, if your teacher has a non traditional English accent, don’t think you are disadvantaged. It is not a hindrance to your English learning. The next time you are doing group work, remember that listening to the other students will help improve your global English skills and  help yourself, by talking to as many different nationalities as you can around your school every day.


Director of Studies

GV Noosa


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Today we had the Wild Rangers come and show us some amazing native Ozzie animals including a snake, saltwater crocodile, frogs, lizards and a Tawny Frog Mouth bird. We all learnt a lot about the creatures and found the Squirrel Gliders just gorgeous. The next Wild Rangers show will be on the 15th  August. Make sure you bring your camera!

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How to Learn a Foreign Language

Here are some tips for learning Foreign Language!

1) Spend the time!

By far the most important factor is how much time you are immersed in the language. The more time you spend with the language, the faster you will learn. This means listening, reading, writing, speaking, and studying words and phrases. This does not mean sitting in class looking out the window, nor listening to other students who do not speak well, nor getting explanations in your own language about how the language works. This means spending time enjoyably connected to the language you are learning.

2) Listen and read every day!

Listen wherever you are on your MP3 player. Read what you are listening to. Listen to and read things that you like, things that you can mostly understand, or even partly understand. If you keep listening and reading you will get used to the language. One hour of listening or reading is more effective than many hours of class time.

3) Focus on words and phrases!

Build up your vocabulary, you’ll need lots. Start to notice words and how they come together as phrases. Learn these words and phrases through your listening and reading. Read online, using online dictionaries, and make your own vocabulary lists for review. Soon you will run into your new words and phrases elsewhere. Gradually you will be able to use them. Do not worry about how accurately you speak until you have accumulated a plenty of words through listening and reading.

4) Take responsibility for your own learning!

If you do not want to learn the language, you won’t. If you do want to learn the language, take control. Choose content of interest,that you want to listen to and read. Seek out the words and phrases that you need to understand your listening and reading. Do not wait for someone else to show you the language, nor to tell you what to do. Discover the language by yourself, like a child growing up. Talk when you feel like it. Write when you feel like it. A teacher cannot teach you to become fluent, but you can learn to become fluent if you want to.

5) Relax and enjoy yourself!

Do not worry about what you cannot remember, or cannot yet understand, or cannot yet say. It does not matter. You are learning and improving. The language will gradually become clearer in your brain, but this will happen on a schedule that you cannot control. So sit back and enjoy. Just make sure you spend enough time with the language. That is the greatest guarantee of success.

Written by Steve Kaufmann

Remembering the Words

The best way to remember English vocabulary

One of the most difficult things about learning a foreign language is mastering the vocabulary. Even if you have a first language (such as French or German) which is related to English, there are many “false friends”, words which are similar to English ones but which are actually used differently. There is no easy way to memorise English words, but there is one method that is guaranteed to get results: quiz yourself.

Back in the 19thCentury, a German psychologist called

The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve

Ebbinghaus was one of the first to study memory, and his work is still recognised today. He found that when a person memorises a set of new words, they forget over 50% of them within an hour. After a day, almost 2/3 is forgotten, and after 6 days, only 30% of the words stay in our head. Therefore, most of the words you learn will be forgotten very quickly! But there’s good news, too. Ebbinghaus found that when you review new words shortly after you first learn them, you won’t forget them so quickly. To put a word in your long-term memory, you will need to review it about seven times. Each time you remember the word, you will make or widen the path to the word in your brain. The best way to do this is by quizzing yourself, and the easiest way to do this is by using word cards.

Make a list of about twenty useful English words that you’d like to remember. Write each word on the front of the card with its part of speech (noun, verb, adjective etc). On the back, write its meaning, either in easy English or in your native language, along with an example sentence from your dictionary. Then test yourself, from word to meaning first, and then from meaning to word. Don’t forget to shuffle the cards each time so that you remember the words, not the list. And you should test yourself both orally and by writing. Do this often, and you’ll never forget the words!

These days, there are also many cheap or free ways to make “word cards” on your computer and phone. You might like to google some, or check out iTunes for some of the latest Apps there. Whichever way you choose to do it, reviewing vocabulary by quizzing yourself is well worth the time and effort.

Naomi Smith

Director of Study, GV Brisbane


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Meeting locals at the Byron farmers’ market

On chilly winter mornings, everone is keen to get out in the sunshine, and we don’t always have to be in a classroom to speak English. Every Thursday there are farmers’ markets in Byron Bay, and many local farmers bring in their freshest, most delicious food. There’s also plenty of music to keep people entertained, and snack food and coffee if you just want to relax.

This week, two classes took advantage of the chance to practice their English by chatting to native speakers at the markets: the Upper-Intermediate students and the Pre-Intermediate students.

Students were interviewed for a documentary about Byron Bay...Are you guys ready to be famous?

You're supposed to be looking at the other camera!

Ready to ask the difficult questions...

Are you ready to ROCK?! No? Me, neither. Let's just chill out to these guys...

One of the 'fruit' stalls. Very flat, very colourful, and very chewy fruit.


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