Khanh Duc Kuttig of the University of Siegen in Germany presented on 'Revisiting teacher language proficiency and the native speaker' at the Future of English Language Teaching Conference (FOELT) in June 2021.
The discussion surrounding the native speaker in ELT is not new. There appears to be an assumption that a teacher who is a native speaker of the language being taught has an advantage and in ELT, this is seen in job advertisements that seek ‘British or Irish passport holders only’ or in anecdotes from colleagues who tell us that schools have declined interviews with them because of where they come from or purely on the basis of their name not being John Smith. Freeman (2016: 182) describes this native-speakerism as the legacy in language teaching ‘of the valuing of “nativeness” as a criterion for being a “good” language teacher’. Yet all over the world, where English is being taught and learnt, the majority of the world’s English teachers will not be native speakers, but instead are proficient non-native speakers of English. Does proficiency in English make a person an effective teacher? Richards (2017) suggests that English teachers need to be proficient in both general English and classroom English. Yet, classroom English is seldom taught. TEFL qualifications and teacher education programs focus on subject-matter knowledge and methodology. This talk addresses the issue of classroom language skills and is divided into three parts. In the first part, we briefly review some of the research on language teacher proficiency before looking at classroom language skills (CLS) in the second part. We close with a discussion on how we can move away from native-speakerism through the inclusion of CLS in TEFL qualifications or teacher education programs.
Download the Powerpoint slides from this Breakout Session.