Differences between Native and Nonnative English Teachers in the Classroom – Term Paper Example

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The paper "Differences between Native and Nonnative English Teachers in the Classroom" is a good example of a term paper on education.   Native and nonnative teachers can both be effective in teaching English, however, there has always been some controversy about having native or non-native teachers to teach English. Of course, this situation varies from one place to the other but there are certainly advantages and disadvantages to each side of this debate. This paper will look into the differences between native and nonnative English teachers in the classroom highlighting the pros and cons of each so as to come up with a solid conclusion as regards this hot issue in education.

Since the perceptions about NETs and NNETs differs across linguistic, social, and educational backgrounds (Moussu and Brian, 2006; Moussu, 2002), this paper will examine various national contexts instead of just one. The application of the phrases non-native and native is undeniably a very contentious issue, particularly in the English’ s sociolinguistics and its pedagogic dimensions. A native speaker, in theoretical linguistic, refers to an individual who is competent to evaluate the grammatical perfection of sentences.

Davies (2004) defines a native speaker as an individual who learned English during the early stages of development and therefore has good knowledge and production of native forms of English as well as perfectly understands the social and regional variations within English. A native teacher is therefore considered to be competent and fluent in English. A non-native teacher is the one who has learned the language post-childhood. From this definition, it can be deduced that the main difference between native and non-native teachers is childhood acquisition. However, this difference has led to the emergence of English language learning philosophy that has propagated the inequality between the NETs and NNETs (Canagarajah, 1999; Arva and Medgyes, 2000; Moussu and Llurda, 2008). From early times, native-like English ability has been framed to be practically unattainable after childhood and hence native speakers are perceived as the ultimate referees of what is conventional language (Birdsong, 1992; Braine, 1999).

On the other hand, Kramsch (1997) argues that native speaker language is inexorably influenced by social status, age, occupation, geography, and therefore standard forms of language are the exception instead of the norm.

According to Paikeday (1985), a native teacher is an ultimate expert on linguistic perfection and he refers to him/her as a shibboleth. Scholars have argued that native English teachers are the best to teach English (Kirkpatrick, 2010; Braine, 2010). They are regarded to be good in grammar as well as pronunciation and hence are valued as sources of cultural information (Wang, 2012). On the contrary, non-native English teachers are perceived as being deficient speakers of English, with poor pronunciation, deficient grammatical, and practical knowledge as well as poor knowledge of foreign philosophies (Mahboob, 2003).

Despite this notion about non-native English teachers (NNETs), there is an increasingly growing body of evidence that shows the contrary. There are many studies which have been conducted in Europe, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and the United States which show that second language students tend to focus more on specific pedagogical linguistics and personal characteristics instead of the linguistic background of the teacher (Lasagabaster and Siera, 2005; Benke and Medgyes, 2005; Pacek, 2005; Cheung and Brian, 2007; Mahboob, 2003; Liang, 2002).

Although NETs are viewed to be perfect in pronunciation, studies have found out that some language students tend to struggle to differentiate between the pronunciation of NNETs and NETs (Kelch and Santana-Williamson, 2002). These findings make us question the validity of the student perception as regards pronunciation models.


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