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?

Thom Jones

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!

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

Listen to this Speak Your Mind! episode:

The native speaker fallacy Verbalists Education and Language Network


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