The native-speaker teacher debate
I have noticed some forum posts on the topic of native-speaker teachers.
What's your view on this topic? Should English language schools employ only native-speaker teachers? My answer is that it is entirely a matter of selecting the best teacher from the available pool for the job. Evasive? Perhaps, but I donâ€™t want to generalise about the background you need to be an effective English language teacher. The native speaker is probably perceived as having more credibility and authenticity. But not all native speakers have an equal depth of language awareness. And, given the nature of basic English teaching in British schools (I can't speak for other countries), many have scant knowledge of English grammar. A non-native speaker, on the other hand, can often bring the useful ability to compare two or more languages and thus help students understand how English differs in structure from their first language . . .
. . . In fact much depends on customer preferences and the learning context. For example, when students travel to the UK, to the USA, to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other English-speaking countries they usually have the expectation that their teachers will be native speakers. Even so, I have met several non-native speakers working successfully in British schools, so clearly the situation is not clear-cut. When working in companies in Europe, I have usually been contracted because the company demanded a native-speaker trainer. However, I have worked with a French organization in which the majority of the English teachers were French and students often seemed intimidated by having to speak to a native speaker.
Another argument I have heard used against non-native speakers is that they might make errors in their own use of English. This really is a red herring, since native speakers make plenty of errors too, if by error you mean deviation from prescriptive rules. I really think everybody needs to loosen up about this. Teaching requires certain qualities to motivate, even inspire learners, to able to give clear explanations and clear instructions. These qualities have nothing to do our native language. No teacher in any discipline is perfect or knows it all.
So, as far as I'm concerned, the choice a school makes of teaching staff should depend on the school's needs and the qualities of the teacher. End of story. Letm know what you think.
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