Teaching English as a Non-Native Speaker: A Student Voice | Yoyo Zhang | 4 Min Read

September 8, 2022

Growing up in Shanghai, I learned English at four years old. After eight years of training — from alphabet games in kindergarten to after-school tutoring in middle school — I could eventually call myself a fluent English speaker. Speaking English fluently proved to be useful after I moved to the U.S. at 12, not just for everyday usage but also as a skill I could share with others. 

At the start of this summer, I stumbled across ENGin when searching to fulfill the yearly community service requirement at my school. The website headline caught my eye: “…a nonprofit organization that pairs Ukrainian youth with English speakers for free online conversation practice and cross-cultural connection.” 

As a remote job that calls for my English skills, ENGin was perfect for me. I immediately enrolled, went through the training, and, there I was, paired with my 13-year-old Ukrainian tutee. 

I had only taught English to Chinese kids before, but the Chinese-Ukrainian language barrier did not prevent me from sustaining the communication just as easily. If anything, the mutual process of using a second language between my student and I has only made the lessons more effective. 

Research has…

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