Recently, we’ve seen an increase in the number of clients asking us for native only teachers. Over the years in Spain, a consensus among students has developed causing many people to come to believe that native teachers are better at teaching.
While this article won’t get into the subject of speakerism it does raise three very simple questions;
- Why choose a non-native teacher over a native?
- Just because you’re a native speaker can you teach the language?
- Is it ok to blatantly discriminate against skilled, experienced teachers who are simply the wrong nationality?
Why choose a non-native teacher over a native? The question we should be asking here is why wouldn’t you choose the teacher who has the most pedagogical experience? It is ridiculous to think that just being a native makes you more of an expert than someone who has been doing a job for years and has a track record of results. So what we should also be asking is what have been the results this teacher has achieved with their students? Where have they worked? and what are their areas of expertise?
Secondly, just because you’re a native speaker can you teach the language? The answer is a firm NO.
This would like saying that just because you have two legs you can be an olympic athelete, in fact it takes years of training to get there.
In all good reputable language schools they will require a minimum teaching qualification and experience. A native speaker who has just landed in Madrid on an easyjet flight, cannot teach the language with the correct pedogogical skills that will evoke learning.
In almost every case, a non native speaker has the grammatical advantage and can often explain the grammar much better than a native. I have, over the years, seen first hand how difficult it is for a native to explain their own language without the nesecary teaching experience. Imagine as a Spanish native that you were asked to explain the subjuctive to a learner of your language, could you?
A non native teacher has experienced all the problems that you, as a student, are currently going through, the lack of confidence, the pronunciation issues, misunderstanding phrasal verbs, lack of listening comprehension skills that prevent you from fully taking part in a converaation. However, they have overcome all these issues and in fact gone a step further by undergoing pedogogical training to ensure they can effectively teach these skills to you.
Non native teachers have often had to prove thier skills much more than a native within the english language teaching sector and therefore often have a much more rounded skill set due to the types of jobs they had had to take during thier career.
Is it ok to blantantly discriminate between experienced teachers who are simply the wrong nationality? The simple answer is NO.
Imagine that you’ve seen a job advertisement for which you are perfectly qualified for and at the bottom of the advert you see “Applications from Spanish Nationals not allowed“. You’ve got twenty years of experience in that position, you know your job well, but you can’t apply simply because of your nationality. I challenge most people to deny that this is plain discrimination.
In the eyes of the law, it is not acceptable to prevent someone who is capable of doing a job, just because of thier nationality when the laws says that they are capable of working in that country, and the law for equal opportunities will prevent any company from advertising a job in that way.
Yet more and more frequently we are seeing this kind of discrimination in our sector, often not from languages schools themselves but in the demands from students and companies who are actively asking schools and academies to discriminate against their own staff. In any other sector, this would not be permitted yet over the last five years it has become the norm, not just in Spain but throughout Europe.
Here at Interactive English Studio we are proud to support native level teachers and when looking for clases, encourage to not ask “Are the teachers native?” but instead “What are your teaching qualifications? Lets promote equality, not discriminate.