The Myth Surrounding the Nonnative-English-Speaker Teacher

(Why) Is this (still) an issue in language assessment?

When I moved to the United States with an assistantship that paid for my tuition in my master’s degree in TESOL and also gave me a monthly salary to cover my living expenses while in school, it did not cross my mind that my “nonnativeness” could be/would be a subject of concern. As part of my Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) duties, I had to teach two English as a second language (ESL) classes in the university’s Intensive English Program (IEP). Prior to arriving in the US, I had already taught English as a foreign language (EFL) in my home country (Brazil) for 3,5 years, also in the university’s languages center, to where I have returned and have worked until today. I cannot recall an instance in which my proficiency in English or ability to teach and assess my students had been questioned by either my students or superiors. At least, not to my face. Amongst my colleagues, I was and still am well aware the myth surrounding the nonnative-English-speaker teacher haunts teachers, who constantly need to provide proof of their proficiency. It also mesmerizes students, who idealize a prototype of standard teacher.

Rajagopalan (2006) states that nonnative-English-speaker teachers represent 80% of the English Language Teaching (ELT) total workforce worldwide. Pereira da Silva (2009) alerts that this massive number of professionals in the workforce has triggered an interest amongst researchers to investigate the characteristics of each group, both native-English-speaker teachers and nonnative-English-speaker teachers.

 

Uh Oh….

The content you’re trying to access is for members only. Please consider joining our community for exclusive access to all video and written media, plus webinar participation and a free annual conference registration. Already a member? Click here to sign in.

Braine, G. (2006). A history of research on non-native speaker English teachers. In E. Llurda (Ed.), Non-native language teachers: Perceptions, challenges and contributions to the profession (pp. 13-23). New York: Springer. Finardi, K. R. (2014). The slaughter of Kachru’s five sacred cows in Brazil: affordances of the use of English as an international language. Studies in English language teaching, 2(4), 401- 411. Hulstijn, J. H. (2011). Language proficiency in native and nonnative speakers: an agenda for research and suggestions for second-language assessment. Language Assessment Quarterly, 8(3), 229-249. https://doi.org/10.1080/15434303.2011.565844 Kachru, B. B. (1985). Standards, codification and sociolinguistic realism: The English Language in the Outer Circle. In English in the world: Teaching and learning the language and literature, edited by R. Quirk and H. G. Widdowson. Cambridge/London: Cambridge University Press/The British Council. Medgyes, P. (2001). When the teacher is a non-native speaker. In M. Celce-Murcia (Ed.), Teaching English as a second or foreign language (pp. 429-442). Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle. Medgyes, P. (2003). The non-native teacher. Germany: Hueber. Pereira da Silva, L. (2009). Students’ Expectations and Attitudes towards Nonnative-English-Speaking Teacher in ESL and EFL Settings: Teachers’ and Students Own Perspectives. (Master’s Degree Thesis, West Virginia University Libraries). Rajagopalan, K. (2006). Non-native speaker teachers of English and their anxieties: Ingredients for an experiment in action research. In E. Llurda (Ed.), Non-native language teachers: Perceptions, challenges and contributions to the profession (pp. 283-303). New York: Springer. Zhang, Y., & Elder, C. (2011). Judgments of oral proficiency by non-native and native English speaking teacher raters: Competing or complementary constructs? Language Testing, 28(1), 31-50. DOI: 10.1177/0265532209360671

Get featured in our blog

You might also enjoy

What Aspects of Speaking Can AI Assess?

In AI, the movie by Steven Spielberg, the robot child named David attains what most experts consider almost impossible for AI to achieve, the ability to love. With this level of technology, it would be possible for AI graders to assess every aspect of test takers’ speaking skills.

Testing in 10 – Dr. Deborah Crusan

Deborah Crusan is professor of TESOL/Applied Linguistics at Wright State University where she prepares teachers for the language classroom and teaches linguistics, assessment, and pedagogical grammar in the MATESOL program.

Sign In

Directory of Experts

Get listed today
Directory

The English Language Testing Society is compiling a directory of member experts in the field of English language testing. If you are interested in being listed*, please fill out the form below.

*Applicable for members only. If you are not a member, consider joining us by clicking here.

let's talk about english testing

We Would be happy to hear from you