Should language teachers be native speakers?

Should language teachers be native speakers?

6
40%

9
60%

This poll will run forever.

level
31
Posts927Likes581Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin, French, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

We recently had this topic, so I wanted to make a twist on it. Even though there are some highly qualified non-native teachers, I personally only use teachers for conversation, so that's all I want. But maybe you feel otherwise. For example, maybe you want a native speaker of your own language to explain complicated grammar points in the L2 (target language). Vote please :)

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Edited 
0
#1
level
1
Posts347Likes191Joined13/7/2018LocationPasig / PH
Native
Tagalog
Learning English, French, Spanish

I vote yes. This is actually a prime requisite of Berlitz Philippines and I happen to agree with it.

Posted 
1
#2
level
1
Posts68Likes37Joined6/10/2018LocationJonestown / US
Native
English
Learning Italian, Spanish

I am in between on this one. It would be a plus if they were a native speaker! However, it does not mean someone who is not, does not know how to speak the language. Native speakers know a whole lot more and can provide better education on the language but there are many who aren't that are very knowledgeable as well. So, though it would be a perk, I think my vote is no that they shouldn't have to be native speakers. 

Taylor Fabio

Posted 
1
#3
level
10
Posts436Likes220Joined4/9/2018LocationCaracas / VE
Native
Spanish
Learning German, Italian
Other English

I voted yes, I believe that it's easier if the teacher is native in one of the languages (your own or your target language)

Posted 
1
#4
level
9
Posts363Likes174Joined10/7/2018LocationBinan City / PH
Native
Tagalog
Other English

It's a case to case basis for me. I voted "no" because like for instance here in our country, there are many English teachers who are highly qualified, and they really can teach the language very well. Proofs of that are the international students we have in our company whom they have chosen the Philippines to study English. Of course aside from being affordable, according to them English teachers in the country are great teachers because they could easily understand them. Most of our foreign students came from nearby countries like Korea, China, Malaysia and Indonesia.


Note: I'm not one of those English teachers, but I'm part of an academe community. :slightly_smiling_face:

Edzky-18

Edited 
2
#5
level
9
Posts385Likes192Joined11/7/2018LocationManila / PH
Native
Tagalog
Learning English, Korean

I voted no. :) When I facilitate accent classes, it helps a lot that I speak Tagalog too because I can explain why we say "por" instead of "four" and even come up with exercises and activities targeting areas specific to Filipinos learning English. However, there are definitely advantages to having a native speaker teach you as well. It's instant immersion to the sound and even the mannerisms of language.

--

ikay

Posted 
1
#6
level
7
Posts142Likes114Joined4/10/2018Location
Native
Chinese - Mandarin, English, Chinese - Cantonese
Other French, Indonesian, Russian, Thai, Vietnamese

I voted no. It is probably a plus for a language teacher to be native, but a highly-trained teacher can probably do the job. 


My native-Korean friend is a Korean lecturer at a university. She's not an English native speaker, but her side gig involves teaching Korean-speaking students English. That she's a trained-linguist probably helps her explain English to her Korean students who are learning English. In that case, I don't think that her students will benefit any more from learning from a native English speaker given her English proficiency and her academic background.

Posted 
1
#7
level
5
Posts36Likes38Joined4/9/2019LocationCórdoba / AR
Native
Spanish
Learning French, German
Other English

I voted no. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. And whatever the case may be I think what’s most important is that the person is qualified for the job. Being a native speaker won’t cut it if you don’t know anything about grammar or language learning.


Native speakers will obviously have a better grasp of the language, better pronunciation, more examples at their disposal, more knowledge of idiomatic expressions and slang and a more up-to-date vocabulary, which is a HUGE plus. But unless they undergo proper training this could also come with some disadvantages. For example, they will most likely be biased towards their particular regional dialect or accent, which may be distant from the standard variant (Scottish English, Australian English, or Cockney, to name a few examples which may be hard even for other native speakers). Furthermore, if they haven‘t studied a foreign language themselves, they could be completely out of touch with the difficulties their students are facing.


This is were non-native teachers have the clear advantage. They have gone through the process themselves and know the hurdles and pitfalls of learning a language B from a specific language A, say Spanish or French. You see, language learning difficulties are very much related to the language you are learning from, because of cognates, differences in grammar structures, etc. That means that it’s very helpful to have a teacher that also speaks your language and has some knowledge of contrastive grammar. The other big advantage for non-native speakers is that at some point they were also strangers to the culture surrounding the language in question. This makes it easier for them to explain cultural differences and customs or habits that a native speaker wouldn’t be aware of or would find self-explanatory.

Posted 
2
#8
level
6
Posts32Likes32Joined18/6/2019LocationSan Jose Del Monte / PH
Native
English
Learning Indonesian, Malay, Tagalog

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

I voted no.


Piggy backing off of this comment from Marko. Native speakerism is a big issue in the ESL industry. The industry itself is for profit and has other issues but many qualified non-natives are shafted by being denied opportunities that they are qualified for, or being paid less. Also we must define "nonnative", is a Filipino or an Indian a non-native despite having very good outer circle English, because they're not from one of the big inner circle countries? I think limiting to natives is a short sighted idea. I encourage anyone to read about native speakerism and how it is damaging to learners, and teachers. A person with a degree in applied linguistics and experience who is not a native, may very well be a better teacher than a native with a 120 hour online TEFL cert.


In the context of English, we must also look at English as a Foreign Language versus English as a Lingua Franca. English as a Foreign Language involves mimicking inner-circle Englishes, how ever many users are actually more interested in English as a Lingua Franca. We see ELF used in places like Europe, where a German, a Swede, and a Dutchman sit down and all speak in English. They may use europeanisms like "take a decision" or call a projector a "beamer", but they're usually very proficient speakers and we shouldn't discredit that languages change and evolve.

markoSSS wrote:
I voted no. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. And whatever the case may be I think what’s most important is that the person is qualified for the job. Being a native speaker won’t cut it if you don’t know anything about grammar or language learning.
Furthermore, if they haven‘t studied a foreign language themselves, they could be completely out of touch with the difficulties their students are facing.



I think that a good screening process will weed out those who fail to meet the languagetools.io standard, and after that look at qualifications and or ability. People who do not want outercircle English, are not likely to book someone who doesn't meet their expectations.


(Sorry for the English heavy focus, I've never paid for a tutor and can't speak to tutoring online in the context of other languages)

Posted 
2
#9
level
4
Posts30Likes14Joined19/9/2019LocationSão Paulo / BR
Native
Portuguese
Learning English, French, Italian, Spanish

As a student I'd vote yes because of idiomatic particularities and phonology, but my opinion is different being a teacher in Brazil. Many foreigners come here and decide to make a living through teaching language, but they have no commitment with teaching itself. It's not just a question of speaking native-like. What about methodology? What about understanding the local idiosyncrasy? Based on my experience and knowledge of mother tongue, I know I'm able to foresee what my students will need to develop faster

Posted 
1
#10
level
3
Posts6Likes6Joined23/9/2019LocationNovi Sad / RS
Native
Serbian
Learning Danish, English, Russian

I voted no because I think non-native teachers are very underappreciated at the moment. Here I'm gonna talk about English, but I think most of the concepts I mention here can be applied to any language.


I think being so tunnel visioned to the idea that only natives can be "real" English teachers is hurting the ESL industry a lot, and hurting the students even more. A random native speaker without any teaching experience or qualifications except a TEFL degree is obviously going to be worse than someone who actually studied English in university.


I also think that a huge plus for non-native teachers is that they have had to learn the language from scratch themselves and know a have faced a ton of difficulties that their students will face as well, so they can likely advise them much more precisely than a native speaker who has never faced these problems could.

JEG KAN IKKE FORSTÅ

Posted 
1
#11
level
31
Posts927Likes581Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin, French, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

Kosta.Cirkovic wrote:
A random native speaker without any teaching experience or qualifications except a TEFL degree is obviously going to be worse than someone who actually studied English in university.

I think you made some good points in your post, but I have to disagree with this one. If you mean this is usually the case, then you may be right, but there are many wonderful teachers with just a TEFL certificate, some without even that.

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Posted 
1
#12
level
3
Posts6Likes6Joined23/9/2019LocationNovi Sad / RS
Native
Serbian
Learning Danish, English, Russian

leosmith wrote:
Kosta.Cirkovic wrote:
A random native speaker without any teaching experience or qualifications except a TEFL degree is obviously going to be worse than someone who actually studied English in university.

I think you made some good points in your post, but I have to disagree with this one. If you mean this is usually the case, then you may be right, but there are many wonderful teachers with just a TEFL certificate, some without even that.


Sure, of course there is a lot of examples of amazing teachers having various backgrounds and education. I was just generalising a bit, in the sense that someone who has been learning a language and how to teach it in and out in uni is likely to be more well-versed in all the nuances and tiny details a complex unit such as a language and its grammar have to offer.


I myself have learned a lot from natives as well as non-natives, and for example with Danish, my native teacher has helped me way more than my non-native one, while with Russian it's kind of been the opposite, so I guess it depends on the individual teacher a lot as well.

JEG KAN IKKE FORSTÅ

Posted 
1
#13
level
3
Posts6Likes7Joined12/6/2019LocationOrihuela-Costa / ES
Native
English
Learning Spanish

If you are just starting to learn a language then it is useful if the teacher speaks your language and the language you are learning. So, for example. if you are a Chinese person and are starting to learn English then it is great if your teacher is also Chinese and you can communicate with them. I'm starting to learn Spanish and it would be great if the teacher spoke both English and Castilian Spanish.


At the higher levels ( B1 -C2), with adults, I find they want to practice with native speakers. They have already learned grammar until it is coming out of their ears etc. They can speak with other non-native speakers at work etc but they don't have the confidence and skills to speak with native speakers.


I often read about the debate between non-natives and natives. Many of the English speaking jobs state native speakers only and usually specify a country or countries the applicant must come from. Non-native teachers of English cry discrimination and state they should be allowed to teach and why shouldn't the student have a non-native teacher. These teachers forget that there are already heaps of non-native speaking teachers within those countries. So in China, you get heaps of Chinese teachers teaching English, in Europe you get heaps of Europeans from any country teaching English, in Russia, you get heaps of Russians teaching English, etc. So the students do have non-native teachers and can choose a non-native speaker if they wish. Many countries under work visas regulations can not employ a person from another country if a person in the country can do the job, so many non-native teachers simply don't qualify for a work visa.  


Now to online teaching. Again there is the outcry of discrimination and the statement that the student should be allowed to choose. Well, of course, they can. Within their own country, they can go to non-native teachers, many of whom will teach online as well as face to face. Many choose to go online simply because they can get to speak with a native speaker. For parents, they see it as an added benefit for their child to be exposed to native accents and western culture. It also looks good on the kids resumes for entrance into the 'right schools'. Remember the online kids English classes are just an add-on to their normal school classes. The kids, of course, get exposed to non-native English speakers at school in their normal English classes. Adults who choose their teacher again often choose the native teachers because the want to understand the native accents and the relaxed way of speaking. They have usually learned grammar and a lot of vocab at school so need the speaking and listening practice. I have many who need English for work as they work for multi-national companies and have colleagues and clients who are native speakers. They feel that their English is inferior and it makes them look bad in the workplace so want to get used to speaking with a native.  


Just one further note. Many may not be aware but the Chinese online schools and other Asian online schools use tons of Filipino teachers. Officially they are classed as non-native but many speak English as their mother tongue. The Chinese use them specifically because they are cheap. Usually, they pay them less than $4 an hour and I have seen ads offering them $1.5 an hr. Some online schools now mainly have Filipino teachers while others are slowly shedding their native teachers in favor of the ultra-cheap teacher. 


Overall there are probably more non-native English speakers teaching English around the world than native English speaking teachers. 



I look forward to meeting you and helping you to achieve your goals:)


See you soon:)

Sharon 

Posted 
2
#14
level
6
Posts32Likes32Joined18/6/2019LocationSan Jose Del Monte / PH
Native
English
Learning Indonesian, Malay, Tagalog

@ Sharon, yes because English, along with the likes of Indonesian, French, and Swahili is one of the few languages to have a majority of its speaker-base being non-native. Unfortunately many people don't realize this. Good point 

Sharon.R wrote:

Overall there are probably more non-native English speakers teaching English around the world than native English speaking teachers.

Posted 
2
#15
level
31
Posts927Likes581Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin, French, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

Clayton.Henderson wrote:
Swahili is one of the few languages to have a majority of its speaker-base being non-native.

True! I get annoyed when I see most-spoken language lists, and I'm talking about ones that pretend to take into account non-native speakers, not include Swahili, or use the native speaker number. According to Omniglot "Around 5 million people speak Swahili as a native language, and a further 135 million speak is as a second language." Quite a ratio, and deserving to be well up the list.

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Edited 
1
#16
    Feedback