Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Welcome to the 'ESL Classroom'

This is an attempt to share with you some of my reflections on what I know and what I  have
learned from others about ESL teaching/ learning.

I invite you to visit this blog and leave comments on what you find

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The ESL Teacher: Native or Non-Native

The ESL Teacher as a Non-Native Speaker of  English
Thus far, research has not resolved the native/ non-native dichotomy in relation to ESL/ EFL teaching. However, there is substantial amount of literature written on the strengths of teachers who are non-native speakers of the target language. Commenting on native/ non-native dimension in a monolingual ELT setting,  Medgyes (1992) point out six assets of being non-native. They are as follows:
a)      Only non-NESTs (non-native-speaking EFL teachers) can serve as imitable models of the successful learner of English.
b)      Non-NESTs can teach learning strategies more effectively.
c)      Non-NESTs can provide learners with more information about the English language.
d)     Non-NESTs are more able to anticipate language difficulties.
e)      Non-NESTs can be more empathetic to the needs and problems of their learners.
f)       Only non-NESTs can benefit from sharing the learner’s mother tongue. (pp. 346-347)

According to Phillipson (1992),
     it is arguable,…that non-native teachers may, in fact, be better qualified than native 
 speakers, if they have gone through the complex process of acquiring English as a second or foreign language, have insight into the linguistic and cultural needs of their learners, a detailed awareness of how mother tongue and target language differ and what is difficult for learners, and first-hand experience of using a second or foreign language. (p. 15)

Speaking on the pedagogical and linguistic abilities non-native English speakers bring in to the English teaching profession, Canagarajah (1999) states, “language teaching is an art, a science, and a skill that requires complex pedagogical preparation and practice. Therefore, not all speakers may make good teachers of their first language. (p. 80)

Thus, it's important that ESL teachers who are non-native speakers of English make good use of their own invaluable experiences in educating their students.


Canagarajah, A. S. (1999). Interrogating the "Native speaker fallacy": Non-linguistic roots, non-pedagogical results. In: Braine, G. (Ed.). Non-native educators in English language teaching. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. 77-92.

Phillipson. (1992). ELT. The native speaker’s burden. English Language Teaching Journal, 46(1), 12-18
Medgyes, P. (1992). Native or Non-native: Who’s worth more?. English Language Teaching Journal, 46(4), 340-349.