I came across this 2014 study on Native and Non-Native English Language Teachers
The article’s authors are Ian Walkinshaw and Duongthi Hoang Oanh who carried out research with university students in Japan and Vietnam exploring the advantages and disadvantages of learning English from native and non-native English speaking teachers.
Even though their findings are in support of non-native English speaking teachers their conclusion leaves a bad taste, at least in my mouth
They conclude that:
their findings are one more nail in the coffin of the notion that, non-native English-speaking teachers are second-class educators and inherently inferior to native-speaker teachers.
They basically conclude that native English-speaking teachers are the default first-class educators, inherently superior to non-native speaker teachers.
NO, non-native speaking teachers are first-class educators and inherently superior to native-speaker teachers.
It says in the introduction that native English-speaking teachers are the ideal model for language production. Their speech is held up as the gold standard of grammatical correctness and perfect pronunciation
We are off to a bad start folks!!!
Nobody in their right mind would ever doubt that native speakers have the best pronunciation and grammatical accuracy, that's what native means. However, the article has the word TEACHER in the title, who is the better teacher, not speaker.
Knowing something and Teaching something are 2 very distinct, separate areas of expertise!
The study explores two research questions:
Research Question 1: What advantages or disadvantages do learners identify about learning English from a native English-speaking teacher?
Research Question 2: What advantages or disadvantages do learners identify about learning English from a non-native English-speaking teacher?
And here is where everything falls apart
Don't the authors know that there is a difference between learning from somebody and being taught by somebody.
Of course we learn from the best,
steal from the best.
If you want to learn the moonwalk you learn from the best moonwalker, if you want to be a painter you learn from the best painters, if you want to be good at giving presentations you learn from the master of presentations, but you would never call Michael Jackson and Steve Jobs teachers, now would you?
You need to learn from native speakers, no question about that, you need to read texts written by native speakers, listen to native speech, just not sure the class room is the place to do it, I thought schools were supposed to give priority to speaking over listening
But more importantly, shouldn’t somebody tell those university students that 5-6-7 classes a week listening to a native speaker is a drop in the ocean, makes virtually no difference.
Shouldn’t somebody tell these university students the massive amount of reading and listening they need to do at home, outside the classroom
It says in the article that students are able to improve their pronunciation by imitating a native speaker’s talk “just like babies do”
Shouldn't somebody hold up a mirror so the students can see they are not babies?
Not making fun of the students, it’s their teachers job. Shouldn’t somebody teach them something about brain plasticity or have them watch Patricia Kuhl's TED talk.
Don't waste your time on goals you are biologically incapable of achieving. There is a whole chapter on Biological Limitations in my book Virtually Native
There are 170,000 words in the Oxford Dictionary, is the language teacher supposed to pronounce all of them?
I’ve never ever asked a native speaker how to pronounce a certain word in English or Japanese or any other language, NEVER,
You know why?
Because I've always used and still use Dictionaries, free online dictionaries, and not just any dictionaries, but Monolingual Learners Dictionaries.
There are 140,000 words in the Cambridge dictionary, it is not the language teacher’s job to know, pronounce and explain all those words
Teaching a language is so much more than just being a human dictionary. Dictionaries are free, teachers are not.
Pronunciation, spelling, definition, you have dictionaries for all that, free online dictionaries, you want British pronunciation, sure, ask Longman and Cambridge, you want American pronunciation, no problem, same dictionaries, for free.
I've had over 1,200 students here in Japan, and I've asked all of them about whether they use monolingual learners dictionaries and guess what
Less than 1% answered Yes
Who should show students how to use monolingual learners dictionaries, because I'm gonna tell you who is not going to do that: native language teachers,
because they've never used one,
by far the most important study tool of second language acquisition.
According to this study, one of the main disadvantages native language teachers have is their lack of teaching methodology, which explains their piecemeal approach to language teaching
Why is it that native teachers don't have teaching methodology,
because they lack learning methodology, to have teaching methodology, you need learning methodology
That’s non-native language teachers main advantage, we have a proven method of learning the foreign language we teach
Learning a foreign language is an extremely complex thing, there is nothing like it. Mastering English will most likely be the most difficult skill you will ever learn as an adult.
Correcting individual pronunciation and grammatical mistakes without understanding the cause of those mistakes or without explaining the big picture is a haphazard approach to language learning, quite ineffective
Good language teachers will give you a system of studying vocabulary and grammar, show the student the structure of the foreign language, will provide a logical and sequential approach to language learning so you, the student, can learn how to learn by yourself, how to become an independent learner
As the well-known proverb goes:
“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Now, let me ask you:
if I came to you and asked you to teach me your native language, would you be able to give me a systematic, A to Z method of learning your native language, a logical and sequential approach to learning vocabulary and grammar, how to practice my reading, listening, and writing by myself
Think people, think!
No native speaker can give you an A to Z method of how to learn their native language.
And if they claim they can, then ask them to see it in writing, the whole method explained in a book or booklet.
Something I recently read: "Writing is nature's way of telling us how sloppy our thinking is."
So very true
Put it on paper for the world to see and have a reasoned discussion and you should ask that of your non-native language teachers too.
I've written 3 books, please check them out.