Are native teachers necessarily the best?

Canagarajah (1999) tells the real story of a Korean student, in possession of a Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language (MATESL) degree by a University of Boston, looking for a job in the States because in his country he will never be hired since there they prefer native-speakers. Is it not absurd that an educational system prepares you for a profession you, paradoxically, will not be able to practice?

english speaking countries

English Speaking Countries

Some people would rather native teachers. Will they feel comfortable if an Indian gives lessons to them? Is a Jamaican a native-speaker? The Native Speaker Fallacy goes against the fact that claims there are not superior or inferior languages/accents and, furthermore, it recognizes that a native speaker is a better teacher just because s/he uses a ‘pure’ accent, forgetting about the pedagogical skills s/he may or may not have.

Quoting Canagarajah again, “teaching a foreign language is an art, a science and a skill that requires a complex pedagogical training and a lot of practice.” Thus, not every speaker can be a good teacher of his/her mother tongue and, in addition, a teacher that speaks more than one language has a wider and deeper awareness of the language, and this fact has advantages.

On the one hand, this fallacy is also a wound for teachers of English as a Foreign Language that are being trained, because they waste more time wondering how to lose their accent than trying to learn how to be a better teacher which provokes a ‘linguistic insecurity’. And this is not an advantage.

On the other hand, this fallacy benefits the inner institutions (Great Britain, the States, Australia and New Zealand mainly) socioeconomically talking because non-native speakers are obliged to show their knowledge of the language doing exams using these accents and pronunciations (TOEFL/Cambridge Certificates). What is more, they neither have to waste time nor money changing text books to suit the ‘outer’ voices. However, native speakers prove to be better giving lessons on speaking skills and preparing official certificates.

In spite of the fallacy, there are not enough native teachers to cover the demands all over the world. More than an 80 % of the teachers of English as a foreign language are non-native speakers Concluding, a good learning of English depends on the abilities the teacher has, regardless of whether s/he is or is not a native speaker, but essentially s/he must have a perfect command of the English language.

What is your experience learning a second language?


Via |  Canagarajah, S. (1999). Interrogating the ‘native speaker fallacy’: Non-linguistic roots, non-pedagogical results. In G. Braine (Ed.), “Non-native educators in English language teaching” (pp. 77-92). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. , El País

More information| Entre lenguas

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Author Spotlight

Iñigo Morales

Iñigo Morales

- I attained a bachelor's degree in English Philology after graduating from the University of Salamanca. I am studying a master's degree in Secondary Teaching attending the University of Granada, city where I am currently living even though I was born in Estella (Navarra)

- I studied English, North American Literature, and English Linguistics at Jagiellonian University of Cracow (Erasmus Program, 2010/2011).

- I participated in the 'First Conference of Young Researchers on Anglophone Studies' organized by the University of Salamanca.

- Follow my didactic channel on Twitter @AngloConsejo Read Full

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