Native English Speakers vs. Non-Native English Speakers in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (from experiences that I encountered in


(from experiences that I encountered in my starting year as a Kindergarten EFL teacher and from different forums with other Native and Non-native English speaking teachers)

As a Non-Native English speaker and an Asian, the task of being able to teach English to fellow Asians is a great challenge. Especially now that the world is somehow bounded by the belief that only Native English Speaking teachers have the capability to teach English correctly because of the factors on accent and pronunciation or the slang that a Non-Native English speaker may not have.

Today, most ESL/EFL positions in Asia and particularly China specify native speakers only, moreover, they want those from certain countries like UK, US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Why is it so' Non- native speaker's language and teaching ability may be better than a lot of native speakers but it is questionable whether administrators or recruiters will want anyone other than blue-eyed, blonde Caucasians to parade in front of prospective parents and their students. So now, this has become a trend, a marketing propaganda that has spread if not all over the world, but all over Asia. Whatever happened to the real essence of teaching which is the passion to educate' What about the combination of right teaching method and experience' Is it simply because a native English speaker can be good in speaking English, it means he can be a credible teacher' Some say that it is given that they can teach because they are fluent in their mother tongue (obviously). It's like saying that any great singer or painter etc. can easily teach someone to sing and paint. Not everyone who is good in what he does can be capable of teaching it to others too. Teaching is very serious and takes a long process to master.

I have lots of experiences of discrimination in the Kindergarten schools that I have applied to. Even in phone interviews, the first thing the employer will ask is the country where you come from. The minute they knew that you are not from the Native English Speaking countries listed above, they would terminate the call. Even in personal interviews, as soon as you look Asian, you are ruled out. I even had an experience that I wasn't even given a chance to do a teaching demo where every other applicant was given a chance because of their country of origin and their looks. One comment from the school is that they would not want to hire an Asian like me for I don't look any different as compared to them. Apparently, some Chinese people think that when you are not blonde and blue-eyed, and you just look like the rest of them, you are not qualified, regardless of your educational background and capabilities as a teacher.

According to some forums, some Native English speakers lack the capacity to teach, they are not even graduates in their countries and they can be very poor in spelling. Compared to Non- native English speakers where they can be very good in grammar and spelling, and can speak fluently like any other Native English speaking ones. Non-native speakers can be better English instructors because you had to learn this language as well as your students do, so you know exactly which things will be difficult and how to explain them most efficiently. Furthermore, most of the people that want to teach are real teachers with a BA in teaching, while most of the native speakers don´t even have a TEFL certificate.

I suppose that the point of contention here is about how good you are as a teacher, regardless of your race, ethnic and educational background. I know some native speakers who are not good teachers. In the same vein as I also know some non-native speakers who are not good teachers either. Everything depends on you. It is you as a teacher who will leave an indelible impression of yourself to your students.

´This is our world; our dream; the world is whatever way we make it.´ ´Be the change you want to see.´ -- Gandhi