In English teaching, is native speaker really better than non-native teacher?

Okay….here’s a question: Why does our industry still do that ridiculous thing of defining a language teacher by where they’re from? The Native Speaker Fallacy can’t still survive…can it? Does speaking a language qualify one to teach it?

The Native Speaker Fallacy

The idea that you can ONLY learn from someone who CAN…rather than someone who has LEARNT to. Surely, that learning ability is what education is?!

Can you swim? Were you taught to swim by a fish? No. Because fish may be excellent swimmers…but that’s no guarantee of teaching skill.

So does our industry do this because it’s truly a qualification? Or because it’s selling a well-past-it’s-sell-by-date cultural imperialism about learning English being connected to England, the USA…or anywhere else? Is it the cheery racism of assuming a white, blond, blue-eyed person is the only one who can teach English? We all know that sells. As an industry are we too lazy to educate the market? To eradicate that kind of thinking?

If we’re teaching English it’s a Lingua Franca, it no longer belongs to any one culture. We all have accents, I do. Mine is British, but that’s no better or easier to understand or…preferable to anyone else’s. It’s not a Downton Abbey audition.

Come get me!

Listen to this Speak Your Mind! episode:

The native speaker fallacy Education Beyond Borders

The Native Speaker Fallacy by Thom Jones, Verbalists Speak Your Mind!
Thom Jones

Thom Jones
Thom has over 25 years living in 12 countries, delivering training, conference plenaries and consultancy in more than 70. He is a visiting lecturer at four international universities. Regularly trains and speaks internationally on subjects as diverse as: business travel for profit and pleasure, stress management, people, history and music

Did you enjoy this article? Then don’t miss the next one! Subscribe for free:

Speak Your Mind! features opinions and our interviews with celebrities, successful business leaders and professionals. Follow Speak Your Mind! here and on the Verbalists YouTube Channel to find out what they have to say about education, study abroad, languages and communication skills.

One Reply to “In English teaching, is native speaker really better than non-native teacher?”

  1. Hi Thom, I am not sure what the industry is, but here we only hire based on degrees and experience and nationality does not enter the picture. Maybe it is oversimplified to speak of “the industry”. Also, I would guess that native speakers have very clear ….advantages !?, if they developed their native language skills, that non-natives have to spend hours of hard labor to reach as well. I would break up teacher skills in different facets. Language competence is one and being native does help (I am non-native, btw).


    Also Thom

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: