In our area of the education sector, the most common cause for concern, is an unfair policy towards non-native speakers as English language teachers.
Many people in ELT would probably agree that native and non-native teachers both have advantages over the other. While native speakers are normally fantastic sources of vocabulary, non-native teachers often have a stronger grasp on grammar, than newly qualified mother tongue English speakers.
Ultimately, it might be said that these pros and cons cancel each other out, and one is left with the individual qualities of teachers. What can really matter, and truly make a difference to a student’s experience, is the connection they have with a teacher who exudes interest and passion for their work, over the source of their English skills.
Having reached this conclusion a school may then come into conflict with clients or parents with strong views on what is best for them, and their children. Indeed, from personal experience at private language schools, it is the clients who are most resistant to non-native teachers. There is an assumption in many countries that native is best.
Perhaps, in this position it is the duty of the school to remain strong in supporting their non-native teachers. After all, it is the prerogative of the organisation to hire the teachers they deem most suitable. We shouldn’t forget, that if an agent, client or parent chooses to book an English language course with a school, that there is an implied trust in the school’s judgement to employ the most appropriate teachers.
It is worth noting that no accreditation body requires an organisation to employ only native speaking teachers. Priorities are unfailingly given to qualifications, and a teacher’s mother tongue does not appear as a concern for any accreditor or government body.
At our academy, we are lucky to have a supportive mix of native and non-native teachers and I believe it adds a wonderful balance to our team. We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer, and this is something we will continue to promote.
Steven Cameron has 11 years’ experience in ELT. With a CELTA and DELTA, he has experience of teaching in Spain, Italy, Czech Republic and the UK. Since September 2016 he has held the position of Director of Studies for ELA-Edinburgh, and is a Teacher Trainer for Trinity CertTESOL. ELA-Edinburgh has over a decade of experience in providing English language courses to an international community and specialises in providing tailored courses to suit the individuals needs. Based in the heart of the culturally rich Edinburgh, ELA-Edinburgh is privileged to be able to draw on the city’s diversity for the quality of its teaching staff. You can follow ELA-Edinburgh on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.