Throughout the world, there are about 130 million people who speak German as their first language. And in 42 countries, besides Germany, there are around 7.5 million people who belong to a German-speaking minority. So, what defines a native speaker? Are the 7.5 million people considered native speakers of the German language?

According to Collins Dictionary, native speakers are the people who speak a language as their first language or mother tongue, rather than speaking it as a second or third language. Non-native speakers, on the other hand, are people who learned a foreign language as a second or third language, either from a young age or as an adult.

Which one is better? Learning a new language from a native or a non-native teacher?

When it comes to learning a second language, you would probably want the best teacher to teach you. But in this case, which is the better option? Here are the pros and cons of learning from a native and non-native teacher.

Pros/Cons Native Teacher Non-native Teacher
Pros
  1. Speak more fluently and intuitively, with better pronunciation, vocabulary and intonation. A perfect role model for the students.
  2. Able to understand social cues and speak differently in different contexts as they are aware of the community’s cultural background and way of communicating.
  3. Have high knowledge and creativity in language use.
  4. Master the standard and non-standard version of the language.
  5. Aware of the latest language trends.
  1. Better insight into the learning process. Therefore, can relate to the students better.
  2. Can make use of the students’ native language to further explain complex sentence structures or vocabularies of the foreign language.
  3. Better understand the students’ cultural background and learning styles.
  4. With an outside view of the foreign language, they may have higher language competency than the native speakers.
  5. Know how to approach a second language and share the experience with the students.
Cons
  1. Have trouble relating with the students’ situation as they did not study the language as a second language.
  2. Find it difficult to explain complex vocabularies or sentence structure to students.
  3. Their perfect use of the language may overwhelm the students into thinking that they are not good enough.
  4. Might not always be conscious of the language rules as they speak it every day.
  5. May not always use the correct form of the language. For example, including dialects or using informal languages when speaking. 
  1. Might use a language style that is too outdated or formal. 
  2. They may not have the same fluency and proficiency as native speakers.
  3. They may not have the cultural knowledge of the language.
  4. They might also lack communicative competence as they only speak the language in class, instead of using it for everyday activities. 
  5. Compared to native speakers, they may have trouble using the language creatively. For example, they may not be able to crack a joke in another language. 

So, to answer the question of which one is better, the native or non-native teacher, the answer is neither one of them—but both.

How can hybrid language learning benefit the students better?

As you can see from the table above, both native and non-native teachers present a number of benefits and challenges, which is why we believe that having both teachers in the same classroom is the best option for our students.

When Singapore was hit by Covid-19, it was a challenging period for us to recruit native-speaking teachers to come and teach in Singapore. So, we thought of a new and better solution—Hybrid Language Class (HLC).

Having both native and non-native-speaking teachers in one classroom will really help the students to grasp the German language. On one side, we have an experienced native-speaking teacher and on the other, we have a non-native-speaking teacher who understands the process of learning another language. This is what we call the best of both worlds.

Our native-speaking teachers will focus on teaching students conversational, cultural and topical matters while the non-native-speaking teachers will focus more on the students’ grammar and writing skills.

It is also noteworthy that the Ministry of Education Language Centre (MOELC) has chosen to go with the hybrid approach, but only by making native and non-native teachers located in the same centre. This is to encourage the colleagues to exchange their experience and learn from each other’s pedagogical approaches and didactics (language teaching methodology).

But at Learn German Singapore, we are going further—the language is taught by the two profiles in the same class of the same level. For instance, if the term lasts 12 sessions, each teacher will teach 6 sessions. They will alternate. Not only will this improve the two groups of teachers’ way of teaching, but this will also benefit the students. That way, students can ask the next teacher what they couldn’t understand in the previous session.

Overall, there will be a balance in the teaching process as both teachers will work together to identify problems and act as a guide for the students. We believe that by doing this hybrid approach, the two teachers will cover all aspects of the language and make the cross-cultural learning experience more exciting and authentic. This will, in turn, help students to acquire a more comprehensive language learning experience.

Following our decision to utilise both native and non-native-speaking teachers to teach our students, we have implemented an online HLC. This way, students can learn from the native-speaking teachers who are located in their home country. We believe that this online class will create more learning opportunities for our students.

To learn more about our Hybrid Language Class (HLC), a one-of-a-kind hybrid approach in Singapore, visit us at learngerman.com.sg. For more information about our classes, get in touch with us now!