Non-native English Speaking Language
Teachers' Challenges and Strengths
English is regarded as the global language (Crystal 1997) around the world and there is a highly increasing trend toward global English usage. As a consequence, this situation increases the importance of English language teaching (ELT) field. In this connection, this field has a growing number of teachers who are non-native speakers of English. However, English teachers each have their own challenges in this profession and there have been a lot of studies which focused on the challenges of non-native speaking teachers all around the world.
The idea of English language teachers’ major challenges and strengths to their profession is not only the subject of this research. Many researchers have been working on this issue and a large number of articles and books have been published about this topic. The non-native English speaking teachers (NNESTs) deal with a number of challenges which occur in the workplace and in their daily lives. Although the number of NNESTs outweighs the number of native speakers of English in the world, NNESTs struggle for equal treatment in the ELT profession (Matsuda & Matsuda, 2001). They come across with various challenges including those related to accent and credibility in the workplace.
Lippi-Green (1997) found that teachers with non-native accents were perceived as less qualified and less effective and were compared unfavorably with their native-English-speaking colleagues. This challenge has always been the cause of employment discrimination practices in ESL programs in the United States and other countries.
Credibility in the workplace:
Issues of teacher credibility are encountered by many NNESTs in the classroom, where even students are influenced by the discrimination between the native English speaker teachers and the NNESTs. Some NNESTs have stated that they had to prove that they could be as effective as a native-English speaking teacher to their students until they gain credibility in the workplace. In reality, increasing number of educators today is pointing out the many strengths of competent teachers of English who share a first language with their students and have experienced the process of learning English.
Medgyes (1992: 346 – 7) stated the following strengths of NNESTs:
- Only NNESTs can serve as imitable models of the successful learner of English…
- NNESTs can teach learning strategies more effectively…
- NNESTs can provide learners with more information about the English language…
- NNESTs are more able to anticipate language difficulties…
- NNESTs can be more empathetic to the needs and problems of their learners…
- Only NNESTs benefit from sharing the learners’ mother tongue…
If you want to read more, here are the cites:
What do you think about the challenges and strengths of NNESTs?
As you will be a NNEST, what do you think about the challenges that you may
encounter in your profession?
Maum, R. (2002). Nonnative-English-Speaking Teachers in the English Teaching Profession. ERIC Digest. Retrieved December, 2002, from http://www.cal.org/ericcll/Digest.
Tajino, A. & Tajino, A. (2000). Native and non-native: What they can offer? Lessons from team-teaching in Japan. ELT journal, 54(1), 3-11