GRE Argument Essay 60
The following appeared in the editorial section of a student newspaper.
“In a recent survey, most students who were studying beginning Russian gave higher course-evaluation ratings to classes taught by non-native Russian speakers than to classes taught by native Russian speakers. The reason that the non-native speakers were better teachers of Russian is easy to see: the non-native speakers learned Russian later in life themselves, and so they have a better understanding of how the language can be taught effectively. Therefore, in order to improve instruction for all languages and also save money, our university should hire non-native speakers as language instructors instead of trying to find and recruit native speakers.”
The argument presented in the editorial section of a student newspaper says that non-native speakers of a language are better instructors than native speakers and therefore the university should hire non-native speakers as instructors. This conclusion is reached on the basis of a survey that shows more response from the students learning Russian being taught by non-native Russian speakers. The reasons, nonetheless, seem to be insufficient to come to the conclusion as mentioned in the editorial section.
First of all, if the students gave higher course evaluation ratings to classes taught by non-native Russian speakers than to classes taught by native Russian speakers, it does not mean that the non-native Russian speakers have a better understanding of the language and so can teach it effectively. The response of students also depends upon the method and style of teaching adopted. It is possible that the non-native Russian speaker is a better teacher. This means that both the teachers could be having the same level of knowledge and understanding of the language. However, there could be a difference in the way they teach the language to their students. The non-native Russian speaker could be a dedicated teacher who teaches the students with great interest and by giving individual attention to their doubts. It is also possible that the non-native Russian speaker is more experienced than his native counterpart is. Therefore, he knows how to teach effectively due to his experience and it has nothing to do with his being a non-native speaker. Therefore, it is obvious that the class of the non-native Russian speaker will be more responsive than that of the other teacher.
Secondly, the argument mentions that the reason that non-native speakers were better teachers of Russian is that they had learnt the language on their own later in life. Therefore, they have a better understanding of how to teach effectively. However, there is no ground behind this statement. Learning a language sooner or later in life does not improve your understanding of how to teach the language. One needs to be trained to teach the students well. It is the quality of training, along with the attitude of the teacher that makes all the different in teaching. If a person has learnt a language on his own, it does not give him the knowledge of how he can teach it to others. It is possible that the non-native speaker has acquired special training to help him become a better teacher and that is why his class is more responsive than that of the other teacher.
Going by the findings of the survey, students have given a better response to the non-native Russian speaking teacher than to native speakers of the language. However, this cannot help in forming a judgment about all the language teachers. Each language is different and so is their difficulty level. Each language needs to be taught in a particular manner that may be different form the other. Hence, the findings of the survey conducted on a class being taught Russian cannot be used to form a conclusion for all languages in general. To ensure improvement in instruction in all the languages being taught in the university, trained and dedicated teachers should be hired instead on non-native speakers.
Lastly, hiring a non-native speaker as an instructor does not indicate that the university will save money. It is possible that a non-native instructor is highly experienced and qualified. In that case, he will demand a handsome salary in return of his services. As compared to this, a native instructor might be cheaper for the university to hire.
As is clear by now, the argument presented in the editorial section is baseless and irrelevant. It draws conclusion from a survey, which could indicate towards a wide range of other possibilities as well.