このページには私が書いた修士論文（英文）の一部が載せてあります。タイトルは「ESL Learners Perceptions of Non-Native English Speaking Teachers」で、英語の学習者がノンネイティブ英語教師の有用性をネイティブ英語教師との対比においてどう捉えているかをサーベイにもとづき研究しました。さらにその結果から英語教師としての厳しい現状を、ノンネイティブ教師がどのように自ら改善していくことが出来るかについての示唆を行っています。「Abstract（摘要）」、「Introduction」、第１章の「Review of Literature（これまでの研究）」の全文、第６章の「Conclusion and Implications（結論）」の一部が載せてあります。第１章はお勧めです。
ESL Learners Perceptions of Non-Native English Speaking Teachers
Review of Literature
Conclusion and Implications
The present research attempted to explore ESL learners’ attitudes towards non-native English speaking teachers (non-NESTs), in particular, learners’ perceptions of non-NESTs’ usefulness in ELT and how learners want to be taught English by non-NESTs. The research was conducted on a total of 39 ESL students who were either at Bond University English Language Institute (BUELI) or students in an Academic Writing course at Bond University on the Gold Coast, Australia. As a research tool, a survey questionnaire was applied to the students, and quantitative data as well as qualitative data obtained were analysed.
The results indicated that the students recognised non-NESTs’ effectiveness in the areas of teaching grammar, predicting learning difficulties, understanding students, and teaching with the help of L1. The results also showed that the students are more likely to wish to be taught by non-NESTs at the early stages of learning, when the above benefits are at their most useful.
The examination of the results leads to the assumption that these students’ expectations from non-NESTs were ‘problem-oriented’. That is, while the students were lower level learners, they had more problems in communicating with teachers due to their insufficient L2 proficiency as well as learning problems because of the lack of experience in language learning. Therefore, they needed non-NESTs’ ability to provide useful help based on the benefits they offer to students as non-NESTs. In other words, the need for non-NESTs by learners is determined by the students’ level of proficiency. Learners wish to learn with non-NESTs at the early stages of learning as they find more difficulty in using English, but the more their proficiency progresses, the less they have problems in dealing with English; thus, their need for non-NESTs diminishes.
In spite of the students’ recognition of non-NESTs’ usefulness, it was also found that the students had a strong preference for native English speaking teachers (NESTs), especially after they had become adequately proficient to learn with NESTs. They believed that non-NESTs were ineffective in teaching oral / aural communication skills; consequently, they felt that they should be taught by NESTs in order to attain a more advanced level of proficiency. It was also revealed that the students’ favourable attitudes to NESTs were based on their limited knowledge about the complexity of language learning and teaching.
The results of this research suggest that in order to improve teaching quality, non-NESTs should properly recognise their strengths as perceived by their students and try to maximise the effectiveness of these benefits. At the same time, in order to improve learners’ negative perceptions of non-NESTs, learners should be provided with general language education and they should be freed from the ‘native speaker fallacy’, that is, the belief that an ideal English teacher is a native English speaking teacher. Furthermore, their awareness of the benefits of learning from non-NESTs should be raised more.
In ELT, it is commonly believed by learners as well as teachers that an ideal English teacher is a native English speaking teacher. Because of this belief, native English speaking teachers (from now on, referred to as NESTs) are vastly preferred by learners and schools, and have an advantage when practising as teachers and when searching for employment. On the other hand, non-native English speaking teachers (non-NESTs) are considered to be less suitable for teaching English. As a result of this view, non-NESTs are disadvantaged in many aspects of practising as teachers, they are excluded from hiring opportunities, and they suffer mentally from an inferiority complex (see Review of Literature).
Despite the negative view of non-NESTs, the major part of ELT is, at present, being conducted by non-NESTs. Statistics show that more than 80% of teachers teaching English all over the world are non-NESTs (Kachru, 1996; cited in Samimy & Brutt-Griffler, 1999). Also, there will always be more non-NESTs than NESTs in the future. Thus, it is important to discuss the roles of non-NESTs in ELT and improve their image in order to solve the problems which they confront.
ELT researchers and professionals have recently begun to pay attention to the issue of non-NESTs. They have identified a number of strengths and advantages of non-NESTs in relation to NESTs (see Review of Literature). However, although these strengths and advantages are encouraging for non-NESTs, it is still unknown how learners actually view non-NESTs and what they expect from non-NESTs because these strengths and advantages are made from teachers’ perspective. In other words, they are teachers’ opinions but not learners’ opinions about non-NESTs. Teaching is more effective when a gap between teachers’ beliefs and their students’ expectations are narrower (Nunan, 1989, Kumaravadivelu, 1991; cited in Burden, 2001). With this in mind, it is important to know how learners on the other side of the desk perceive non-NESTs.
The aim of the present study is to examine learners’ perceptions of non-NESTs’ usefulness in ELT and their expectations from non-NESTs in relation to NESTs. It is hoped that non-NESTs will overcome their inferiority complex and become more confident in their teaching by realising their own strengths and unique roles in ELT. In order to achieve the goal of the study, learners’ views of non-NESTs’ advantages as identified by teachers will first be investigated; this in turn will provide data when learners are asked to identify which of these advantages learners recognise and consider to be important. The study will then examine learners’ preference for either NESTs or non-NESTs as well as the reasons for their choice of teachers. This will reveal learners’ perceptions of non-NESTs and their usefulness when compared with NESTs. It is intended that an overview of learners’ perceptions of non-NESTs and their expectations of them will eventually emerge through an examination of the above. Finally, pedagogical implications will be considered on the basis of the findings in the final chapter.
This chapter will initially examine problems which non-NESTs are having with regard to ELT. It will then look at theoretical assumptions regarding non-NESTs’ advantages identified by ELT practitioners, followed by a separate section which specifically focuses on one of the advantages: use of learners’ L1. After that, it will explore empirical studies on the non-native issue, where Medgyes’ (1994) study and the six advantages of non-NESTs proposed by him will first be presented. Then, other empirical findings, which include both teachers’ and learners’ perceptions of non-NESTs, will be examined, and also comparisons will be made between the empirical findings and the theoretical assumptions.
1.2 The Problems
In ELT, learners as well as teachers commonly believe that an ideal English teacher is a NEST and that non-NESTs are less suitable for teaching English. These beliefs lead to unfair treatment of non-NESTs in English teaching environments, and also cause anxiety and feelings of inferiority among non-NESTs. Non-NESTs have reported these problems throughout the world. This section will first describe the problems which non-NESTs are having with regard to ELT, and it will then explore the ESL learners’ as well as teachers’ common beliefs about language teachers, which are assumed to be causing the problems.
1.2.1 Non-NESTs’ Problems with regard to ELT
Amin (1997, 1999), who is an ethnic Pakistani and immigrated to Canada as an adult, describes how minority female teachers are disempowered in the ELT profession in Canada on the basis of the survey she conducted on immigrant ESL teachers as well as her own experience. The survey investigated the teachers’ perceptions of their students’ ideal teacher. According to Amin, the study findings suggest that some students assumed ‘only white people can be native speakers of English’ and ‘only native speakers know “real”, “proper”, “Canadian” English’ (Amin, 1999, p.94). Furthermore, most of the students decisively prefer white teachers to non-white teachers. From her own experience, it seemed that her students doubted her English competence and some of them were even expecting her to make a mistake. She felt more anxious than her white colleagues, and spent more time on the preparation of her class for fear of not being able to answer students’ questions. Participants in her study expressed similar feelings. They said that ‘they had to know all the rules of English grammar because they felt they were being constantly judged, tested, and compared unfavourably with their white colleagues’ (Amin, 1999, p.100).
Suarez (2000), who teaches English in Uruguay, calls the non-NESTs’ anxiety and inferiority complex ‘I’m-not-a-native-speaker’ syndrome, and reports its negative effects on their teaching. Some of the Uruguayan teachers he knows are quite proficient users of English, but seldom speak English in public. They even feel that they are inadequate as teachers because they are not sufficiently competent in English. Similarly, Prcikova (1995) reports that Slovakian teachers are anxious about being compared by their students with their English native speaker colleagues, and their lack of confidence in English competence leads them to believe that they are inferior to their English native speaker counterparts.
In addition to the anxiety and inferiority complex, non-NESTs encounter difficulties when finding jobs. Mattos (1997) explains how they are excluded from hiring opportunities in Brazil. According to Mattos, language schools in Brazil, and he believes this is true of most schools in underdeveloped non-native English speaking countries, prefer to hire NESTs rather than more experienced non-NESTs as this attracts more students.
Thomas (1999) points out that even some teachers engaged in TESOL believe that a necessary condition for teaching English is that a teacher is a native speaker of English. She once attended a TESOL convention and encountered a comment on recruitment made by a participant. According to the participant, when recruiting students, they told them that only NESTs would teach them, believing that students would not take the trouble to come to learn English from non-NESTs. Thomas also comments on students’ negative perceptions of non-NESTs and strong preference for NESTs similar to Amin’s experience mentioned above. One of Thomas’s students told her that when the student first saw her, he (or she) was disappointed and thought that he (or she) would not like her class. That is because he (or she) had spent a great deal of money to come to the U.S.A, hoping to be taught by NESTs.
As has been described above, non-NESTs have to go through a lot of difficulties. Their credibility is challenged by students and English native speaker colleagues, and they have much fewer opportunities to find a job because of the students’ and institutions’ strong preference for NESTs. They also suffer from anxiety and inferiority complex caused by a lack of confidence in their English competence; they even come to believe that they cannot be good enough to be English language teachers. The cases introduced in this section are only a few examples, and similar opinions can be found in any literature relating to the non-native issue.
1.2.2 The Native Speaker Fallacy
Phillipson (1992) named the widespread notion that an ideal English teacher is a native English speaking teacher ‘the native speaker fallacy’. This notion benefits NESTs in various ways while creating unfavourable situations for non-NESTs as described in the previous sub-section. He claims that behind the fallacy there are hidden political, ideological, and economic intentions of the ‘Center’ countries such as U.S.A. or Britain who aim at establishing the Center hegemony in the ‘Periphery’ countries and benefiting from it.
The consequences of the fallacy are explained in detail by Canagarajah (1999). According to him, the native speaker fallacy supports the ‘English only movement’, which insists that only English should be used in the classroom. This movement considers that learners’ L1 is harmful and needs to be excluded, instead of regarding it as a useful resource in the SLA process. This movement serves to protect the values and interests of NESTs from the Center.
Another consequence of the fallacy that Canagarajah (1999) points out is that it helps to maintain the dominance of the standard Englishes such as British English and American English over non-standard varieties of English. It prevents non-standard Englishes from spreading further and ‘spoiling the purity’ of English, and it also contributes to spreading Center Englishes to new learners. In such a situation, NESTs are expected to play an important role, whereas non-NESTs are likely to be excluded.
Canagarajah (1999) also claims that the native speaker fallacy, as stated previously, has an impact on hiring practice. It secures hiring opportunities for NESTs in both the Center and Periphery communities, while it makes it extremely difficult for non-NESTs to find a job even in the Periphery. In addition, Canagarajah (1999) asserts that too much emphasis on one’s linguistic identity leads to a diminishing of the value of expertise in ELT. If it is a person’s nativeness that qualifies a language teacher, a NEST may not make an effort to develop pedagogical skills or other essential qualities necessary for a successful language teacher such as understanding students’ local language, needs, or culture. Similarly, a non-NEST may be obsessed with acquiring native like pronunciation and losing his/her accent, instead of striving to be an effective teacher.
1.3 Theoretical Assumptions of Non-NESTs’ Advantages
As has been examined in the previous section, the native speaker fallacy has been prevailing and has had a number of negative impacts on the ELT profession, creating extremely unfavourable situations for non-NESTs. However, professionals and researchers of both native and non-native speakers of English have begun to doubt the fallacy in recent years and pay attention to the positive aspects of non-NESTs. This section will explore theoretical assumptions of non-NESTs’ strengths identified by ELT practitioners.
Before examining the identified advantages of non-NESTs, one point should be noted. Roughly speaking, there are two instances where non-NESTs can be found: (1) the situation where non-NESTs teach multilingual classes in English speaking countries such as the U.S.A., Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and (2) the situation where non-NESTs teach monolingual classes in their own countries. The former situation is relatively rare, because a non-NEST needs to be highly proficient in English and also there are few opportunities even for highly proficient non-NESTs to obtain a place teaching in Center countries. The latter situation is a much more common one in which non-NESTs find themselves. There, teachers share the same cultural / educational background and first language with their students, and these aspects can be of great advantage to non-NESTs. Thus, the two situations should clearly be distinguished and treated separately.
Non-NESTs’ strengths as identified by ELT practitioners will now be examined. Thomas (1999) claims that non-NESTs can be role models for learners to imitate. Since non-NESTs are living examples of successful English language acquisition, they can demonstrate to learners how to succeed in English language learning. Cook (1999) gives further consideration to the idea of non-NESTs’ role models. She argues that it is never possible for a non-NEST to be a native speaker of English, but learners cannot be native English speakers either, no matter how hard they try. ELT needs to educate learners to realise this fact, and make them view non-NESTs positively, that is, convince learners that non-NESTs are not those who failed to become native speakers, but are practical L2 speakers who represent a realistic goal which learners should seek to achieve.
Canagarajah (1999) places importance on non-NESTs’ deep knowledge about the English language which was gained through their own learning experiences. Their competence in more than one language enables them to have deep metalinguistic knowledge and be aware of the complexity of languages. They may therefore have a deeper understanding of English grammar compared to NESTs. Similarly, Mattos (1997) remarks that non-NESTs’ profound knowledge of both English and the students’ first language is an advantage, since, for example, it enables them to compare the English grammar and the grammar of the first language and thereby help learners with difficulties they encounter when they learn new structures.
Astor (2000) speculates on the types of language knowledge a teacher possesses. He contends that intuitive grammatical competency in English, which is an exclusive possession of NESTs, is insufficient to be a competent teacher. English teaching requires a cognitive knowledge of the grammar, and therefore a teacher should be linguistically educated. He has observed many NESTs who are unable to explain the difference between two basic structures such as ‘The book is on the table’ and ‘There is a book on the table’.
In some cases, non-NESTs may be more qualified and committed to teaching (Reves and Medgyes; 1994). Mattos (1997) mentions that there are a number of native speakers teaching English without any training or qualifications. They are not ‘real’ teachers but merely native speakers of English, and therefore they are likely to know little about English grammar and be completely unfamiliar with teaching methodology and L2 pedagogy. Medgyes (1994) remarks that ELT is just a casual career for them, and thousands of these unqualified native speakers teaching all over the world are harming ELT by lowering the level of professionalism.
Canagarajah (1999) remarks that non-NESTs have a deeper understanding of their local students. When non-NESTs share the same L1 with students, they are more familiar with their students’ needs, typical learning styles, and the context where their students use the second language in the local communities. Non-NESTs can therefore teach more effectively. For this reason, he insists that ELT in the Periphery communities should be conducted not by Center teachers but by local non-NESTs.
Bennett (1994), who teaches in Portugal, also comments on the advantages of non-NESTs’ understanding of their students’ needs. She says that Portuguese students’ real needs are not to learn British culture through English, but to learn how to talk about their own world in the foreign language. In other words, what is more important for them is to be able to express their particular opinions and views on their world in English than to learn to see them from the perspective of English culture. While non-NESTs may be more aware of this because they share the same cultural background with their students, NESTs tend to place more emphasis on the peculiarities of English culture and dismiss what students want to express as ‘not English’. Bennet asserts that non-NESTs are, therefore, vastly superior when teaching students from the same cultural background.
Gill and Rebrova (2001) report the situation in Slovakia where students’ needs and expectations are largely different from those that teachers from the Center countries assume. For instance, students, who are more accustomed to traditional teaching methods, are unfamiliar with pair work, group work, or role play activities, and thus find it difficult to accept them. They expect teachers to correct more often and teach more grammar. They contend that it is dangerous for a teacher to ignore these learners’ perceptions, and non-NESTs are unlikely to do so.
Tang (1997) emphasises the importance of non-NESTs’ familiarity with the local society. They are more familiar with the local syllabus, examination system, administrative framework in schools than NESTs, and are also more empathetic with beginners and weak students, who cannot understand NESTs’ language. Similarly, Gill and Rebrova (2001) claim that non-NESTs’ knowledge of local institutions is advantageous. They know institutional culture, goals, and how to cope with colleagues and students.
In this section, opinions on non-NESTs’ advantages as identified by ELT professionals have been examined. In addition to these, the use of learners’ first language is claimed to be a great advantage, and there has been more argument over this than over other non-NESTs’ advantages. Since L1 use in the language classroom is a larger area and perhaps a major strength of non-NESTs, it will be discussed separately in the following section.
1.4 The Use of Learners’ L1
1.4.1 Whether or Not L1 Should Be Used
Whether the L1 should be used in the classroom by either learners or teachers or not is still the subject of much debate. The English only movement claims that L1 should be eliminated from the classroom. However, there are counter arguments which question this position and support the use of L1 (for example, Weschler, 1997, Spratt, 1985, and Cole, 1998). This sub-section will examine the arguments for and against L1 use, and consider whether it is appropriate to use learners’ L1 for L2 pedagogy.
Spratt (1985) reviewed the use of L1 and stated that in the early days of modern language teaching (and even at present), the use of learners’ L1 was regarded as a ‘bad thing’. Particularly at elementary and intermediate levels, it was believed that L1 use would cause interference and laziness, and decrease the speed of language learning. Also, the methodologies used in those days did not require the use of L1, since the teacher-centred activities such as drilling, reading or writing took place only in controlled contexts in which both teachers and learners used only a limited range of the target language.
However, some researchers advocate the use of L1 in the language classroom which differs from the above opinion. With regard to L1 interference, Weschler (1997) remarks that it is inevitable for L1 to influence L2 acquisition no matter how much effort teachers make to avoid it. Therefore, it is better to positively consider L1 as a useful aid or tool for L2 acquisition and to find ways of making use of what learners already know.
Spratt (1985) points out the situational change which has occurred in the classroom. With the introduction of the communicative approach, various kinds of activities have been adopted, and students communicate with their classmates much more than before in pair work or group work. The wider range of language use brought about by the new classroom environment may require the use of L1, because there may be occasions where students do not know how to say or write something and they may struggle trying to convey their ideas. Teachers as well as students have more opportunities to use the L1. They can use it, for instance, to explain things to learners, to give instructions, or to check learners’ comprehension.
The ‘English only’ method may be fine in principle, but it does not fit the reality of the classroom. While this approach is generally recommended to multilingual classrooms in English speaking countries, where using only English is not only desirable but also essential for communication, the reality is that the majority of classroom settings around the world is that of monolingual classes, where typically non-NESTs teach students from the same linguistic/cultural background (The Onestop Magazine, 2001).
In addition to these claims mentioned above, there is doubt whether the ‘English only’ method is based on coherent theory or substantial research. As mentioned earlier, it may have been conveniently interpreted and employed by NESTs who could gain the best interests from this dogma, and more likely, it is used as an excuse for the low competence in learners’ L1 among NESTs rather than pedagogical concerns (Cole, 1998, Weschler, 1997).
In view of the above arguments, there seems to be no reason to abandon the use of learners’ L1. On the contrary, there are arguments that L1 should rather be used for the enhancement of SLA due to a number of advantages that its use provides. The following sub-section will explore the advantages of using L1.
1.4.2 Advantages of Using L1
This sub-section will examine the advantages of using L1. One clear advantage of using L1 in the classroom is when explaining the meaning of an English item. This is particularly true of abstract words. After spending much time on explaining the concept of a word, a teacher may still be uncertain whether it has been correctly understood by the students. In that case, simple translation can save time and avoid ambiguity (Cole, 1998, Medgyes, 1994, Spratt, 1985).
Similarly, Cole (1998) claims that in order to facilitate learners’ understanding of L2, teachers should exploit the common learning experience in L1 which students in monolingual classrooms often share with one another. For instance, the term ‘noun’ is much better translated into L1 than explained in L2 if learners understand the concept of the word. Knowledge of the learners’ learning experience enables a teacher to avoid teaching them what they already know.
These above claims are about making use of learners’ existing knowledge. Learners’ L1 can serve as a cognitive bridge between L1 and L2. Yamamoto-Wilson (1997) attributes the high failure rate of L2 learners to ‘the failure of teachers to make meaningful connections between the target language and the mother tongue’ (p.9).
Language learning is a hard task for learners, particularly at low levels, and ‘English only’ class can be especially stressful. L1 can be an effective tool here. It can relax students (Burden, 2001, Cole, 1998), or ‘give them (learners, especially adults and teenagers) the opportunity to show that they are intelligent, sophisticated people’ (Atkinson, 1993, p.13).
Weschler (1997) argues that L1 should be used in the classroom, since it can make the lesson comprehensible and save classroom time. He points out that the amount of classroom time spent in typical English language courses is generally too little to achieve even a moderate level of L2 proficiency, and that ‘this is especially true if the teacher wastes half that time by limiting input to incomprehensible messages in the target language’ (p.3).
As indicated above, the use of L1 in the classroom has a number of advantages. There are also arguments over the ideal model of L1 use. The researchers mentioned above generally agree that the primary means of teaching should be English, and that L1 use should be minimised. This view coincides with learners’ expectation. For example, Murahata and Murahata’s (2000) study found that the majority of Japanese EFL students studying at a university expected their Japanese speaking non-NESTs and NESTs to use English as much as possible in class (81% for Japanese speaking non-NESTs and 81% for NESTs). Moreover, these researchers also agree that the amount of L1 use should gradually be decreased as the English proficiency of learners becomes more advanced.
When to or not to use L1 is a controversial issue (and also beyond the scope of the present study). It can be used for instructions, class management, explaining a grammar point, or giving a reason for doing a particular activity, but some researchers assert that it should not be used when ‘real’ communication takes place (Atkinson, 1993, Burden, 2001, Spratt, 1985). When a teacher, for instance, asks a student to open the door in the classroom, she is involving the student in a genuine communicative interaction, and learners learn a lot through this authentic L2 meaning negotiation.
Furthermore, learners’ wants about the use of L1 are often different from teachers’ perceptions. Burden (2001) investigated gaps between learners’ expectations and teachers’ beliefs about when the L1 should or should not be used. He found differences in areas such as instructions/explanations, checking comprehension, or human contact, with learners expecting much less use of L1.
Therefore, as Atkinson (1993) points out, there is no ‘right balance’ or perfect model for L1 use. It depends on various factors such as students’ level, previous learning experience, or the stage of the lesson, and thus teachers should always ask themselves whether or not using L1 on a particular occasion is justifiable. However, ‘L1 can be a valuable resource if it is used at appropriate times and in appropriate ways’ (Atkinson, 1993, p.2).
Finally, not only non-NESTs but also NESTs can, of course, benefit from using their students’ L1. However, since many of them lack the ability in their students’ L1, non-NESTs are in a much better position to take advantage of it.
So far in this chapter, theoretical assumptions as to non-NESTs’ advantages have been presented. In the next section, empirical studies on the non-native issue will be examined.
1.5 Empirical Studies on the Non-native Issue
1.5.1 Medgyes’ Study and his Six Advantages of Non-NESTs
Medgyes, who is a native speaker of Hungarian and teacher trainer in Hungary, did some important work on the native vs. non-native issue. He examined the issue in detail in his book The Non-Native Teacher (1994) as well as in a number of other articles. He identified six advantages of non-NESTs, which were derived from results of questionnaire surveys he conducted on NESTs and non-NESTs from different countries. According to him, non-NESTs can:
1. provide a good learner model for imitation;
2. teach language learning strategies more effectively;
3. supply learners with more information about the English language;
4. anticipate and prevent language difficulties better;
5. be more empathetic to the needs and problems of learners;
6. make use of the learners’ mother tongue.
On the basis of his study findings, he accepts that non-NESTs are far less competent in English than NESTs, and they are vastly disadvantaged in their teaching due to the linguistic deficit. However, he claims that despite their deficient English language competence, non-NESTs can compete with NESTs, especially in a monolingual environment, because of the six strengths presented above.
Examining Medgyes’ six statements above, they seem to coincide with the opinions of professionals presented in earlier sections. On closer examination, with regard to the first advantage (Non-NESTs can provide a good learner model for imitation), he remarks that non-NESTs can serve as more credible learner models since they have learnt the language through their own efforts. On the other hand, though NESTs can serve as a perfect language model, they cannot be learner models because they have never learnt English as a second language in the way that their students do in their classes (Medgyes, 1992, 1994).
With regard to the second advantage (Non-NESTs can teach language learning strategies more effectively), since non-NESTs are supposed to have learnt English consciously and have employed language learning strategies throughout their own learning process, they are assumed to be more capable of introducing these strategies and thus are able to sensitise learners to them more effectively than NESTs who have acquired English as their mother tongue (Medgyes, 1992, 1994).
The third advantage (Non-NESTs can supply learners with more information about the language) corresponds to the suggested views of non-NESTs’ deep knowledge of English discussed in the previous section.
A teacher should have good understanding of his/her students in order to succeed in ELT. In this respect, knowing learners’ background is essential for better understanding. The forth (Non-NESTs can anticipate and prevent language difficulties better) and fifth advantages (Non-NESTs can be more empathetic to the needs and problems of learners) are about understanding students’ native language, language difficulties, and sociocultural / linguistic situation (Murahata, 2001). They also correspond to the teachers’ opinions presented in the previous section.
With regard to the forth advantage, Medgyes asserts that non-NESTs’ shared linguistic and cultural background with their students makes them more sensitive to the difficulties their students may have. With regard to the fifth advantage, he remarks that as on-going learners of English, non-NESTs continuously encounter difficulties just as their students do. Owing to this permanent struggle with the language, they become more understanding and sensitive (Medgyes, 1992, 1994, Reves & Medgyes, 1994).
After specifying the six advantages of non-NESTs, Medgyes (1992, 1994) further attempts to answer the question ‘Native or non-native: who’s worth more?’, which is the title of his article (1992). He concludes that, as mentioned above, non-NESTs can be as effective as NESTs because the six advantages can compensate their major weakness, that is, their deficient English proficiency, and he also asserts that both NESTs and non-NESTs can make different but equally important contributions to ELT. Moreover, he emphasises the importance of collaboration between NESTs and non-NESTs inside and outside the classroom. In schools, there should be a good balance of NESTs and non-NESTs so that they can compensate one another’s strengths and weaknesses (Medgyes, 1992, 1994).
1.5.2 Other Studies on the Non-native Issue
This sub-section will look at empirical studies concerning the non-native issue other than the Medgyes’ (1994) study. Findings on teachers’ perceptions of non-NESTs will first be explored, and learners’ perceptions will then be presented.
184.108.40.206 Teachers’ Perceptions
A few studies have investigated teachers’ perceptions of non-NESTs. They explored research questions which were similar to those of the Medgyes’ (1994) study, which either confirmed or contradicted Medgyes’ findings.
Samimy and Brutt-Griffler (1999) investigated self-image of 17 non-native TESOL graduate students studying in the U.S.A.. They utilised a number of data collection instruments from the Medgyes’ study, and obtained results which were quite similar to those of the Reves and Medgyes’ (1994) study, which re-examined the results of the Medgyes’ (1994) survey and described them in more detail. Similarly to the Reves and Medgyes’ (1994) study, the participants in the Samimy and Brutt-Griffler’s (1999) survey perceived the differences between NESTs and non-NESTs in their teaching behaviour, but did not necessarily indicate that NESTs were superior to non-NESTs. Furthermore, being asked to specify more successful teachers, they responded in the descending order of ‘both’, ‘non-NESTs’, and ‘NESTs’.
As far as the positive aspects of non-NESTs are concerned, the participants’ responses were as follows:
1. Apply difference between L1 & L2
2. Use L1 as a medium
3. Aware of negative transfer, psychological aspects of learning
4. Sensitive to the needs of students
5..Know students’ background
While these confirm Medgyes’ findings, the following contradicts them. Unlike the respondents of Medgyes’ study, the participants in the Samimy and Brutt-Griffler’s study did not show a sense of inferiority. On the contrary, they expressed confidence in being non-NESTs, emphasising the value of their experiences and struggles in language learning as well as the value of understanding of their students. Moreover, many of them pointed out that successful language teaching depended on a number of factors such as goal, age, and levels of learners as well as teachers’ personal factors, and that a teacher’s expertise in ELT was more important than his/her linguistic status.
Liu (1999a, 1999b) investigated the impact of non-NESTs on their students. Seven non-native professionals teaching ESL participated in her study. Whereas Samimy and Brutt-Griffler (1999) examined teachers’ perceptions of themselves, she studied students’ perceptions of their teachers from the teachers’ points of view. In other words, while Samimy and Brutt-Griffler explored how non-NESTs perceived themselves, she focused on how they think they were perceived by their students. The result was that like the Samimy and Brutt-Griffler’s study, the participants made a number of comments on non-NESTs’ strengths, verifying Medgyes’ six advantages, and they also expressed positive views of being non-NESTs. However, there were differences between this and the Samimy and Brutt-Griffler’s study in that their confidence was actually based on their students’ positive attitudes towards them. One participant said:
I don’t remember experiencing even a hint of negative perception in any class I’ve taught. In fact, I’ve had students express orally how comfortable they were with me as teacher and that they can understand “my English” better than their other teachers’ …
In these two empirical studies, it was found that non-NESTs were perceived positively by either the teachers themselves or their students. This appears to contradict the common view of non-NESTs. However, it should be taken into account that while EFL teachers were included in Medgyes’ study, participants in these two studies all taught in ESL settings and were highly proficient users of English, some of whom spoke near-native or even native-like English. Their high level of English proficiency may have positively affected their views on themselves as well as their students’ perceptions of non-NESTs.
220.127.116.11 Learners’ Perceptions
Perceptions of non-NESTs examined so far in this chapter are either teachers’ opinions or study findings primarily derived from teachers’ survey. However, studies investigating learners’ perceptions have been extremely scarce, except for the following three studies.
Murahata and Murahata (2000) conducted a survey in the form of a questionnaire on 79 Japanese university students studying EFL, and investigated the kinds of classes Japanese learners of English generally expected from NESTs and from Japanese-speaking non-NESTs. The results of the survey did not strongly indicate that the Japanese learners expected English classes to be taught differently by NESTs and non-NESTs.
Shimizu (1995) conducted a questionnaire-based survey on 1,088 Japanese college students studying EFL, and revealed their impressions of English classes taught by Japanese-speaking non-NESTs and NESTs. The result showed that the students had surprisingly negative impressions of classes taught by Japanese-speaking non-NESTs, while they perceived classes taught by NESTs much more positively.
Miyata (2000) examined attitudes towards non-NESTs among learners studying ESL in Australia by conducting a questionnaire-based survey as well as interviews with 95 students. As the Shimizu’s (1995) study found, the results of the Miyata’s (2000) survey indicated that learners perceived NESTs far more positively than non-NESTs.
Miyata’s (2000) study included a teachers’ survey, in which 18 NESTs participated, as well as the learners’ survey. With regard to the teachers’ survey, their opinions of non-NESTs’ strengths conformed to the ones outlined in this chapter. However, when the results were compared with those of the learners’ survey, a discrepancy between the two groups’ perceptions was found. While the teachers tended to perceive equal effectiveness in NESTs and non-NESTs, the students showed remarkably biased attitudes against non-NESTs.
The literature review has looked at theoretical assumptions and empirical findings regarding non-NESTs’ advantages. It seems that a number of descriptions of non-NESTs’ strengths expressed in many ways, whether theoretical assumptions or empirical findings, can be summarised into Medgyes’ six advantages. When learners’ perceptions are considered, however, it is still not known whether learners view the non-NESTs’ advantages in the same way as teachers do. The present study focuses on learners’ perceptions of non-NESTs rather than teachers’, and the Review of Literature will be used as a point of reference when the results of the present survey are compared with teachers’ perceptions as well as those of the learners’ in later chapters.
6.1 Summary of the Current Survey
The current study attempted to outline ESL learners’ attitudes towards non-native English speaking teachers. The main aim of this study was to examine learner’s perceptions of non-NESTs’ usefulness in ELT and their expectations from non-NESTs in relation to NESTs. In order to achieve this, a survey questionnaire was implemented on 39 students studying at Bond University and BUELI on the Gold Coast, and quantitative data as well as qualitative data obtained from the respondents were analysed.
The results of the survey showed that students recognised non-NESTs’ usefulness in some areas of language teaching. It also revealed their expectations of non-NESTs. These were, (1) the students assumed that non-NESTs can offer useful help because of non-NESTs’ ability to anticipate difficulties, understand their students, and utilise their first language, especially when students’ English proficiency level is low, and (2) the students supposed that non-NESTs were more efficient in teaching grammar, especially basic grammar, vocabulary and translation. The students thought that learning from non-NESTs was useful for developing their basic competence in English while they were at lower levels. A further examination of these students’ expectations of non-NESTs also revealed that their expectations were problem-orientated. That is, while the students were at a level of competency where they were more likely to have a problem related to their English language learning, they tended to appreciate the importance of non-NESTs.
While the students recognised the usefulness of non-NESTs in certain circumstances, it was also found that the students largely preferred NESTs to non-NESTs. They showed a strong wish to be taught by NESTs, believing that, when they became adequately competent, they needed to learn from NESTs in order to improve more, especially in the areas of more advanced oral / aural communication skills. They believed so largely because of the language myth in L2 teaching and learning, namely the native speaker fallacy.
6.2 Pedagogical Implications
Possible implications for pedagogy will now be considered on the basis of these findings. In order to improve non-NESTs’ teaching and the learners’ negative view of non-NESTs, there are two things which should be done: (1) non-NESTs should exploit their strengths, and (2) students’ ‘language awareness’ should be raised.
With regard to the teachers themselves, the first thing for non-NESTs to do is to properly recognise their own strengths and students’ expectations, that is, anticipating difficulties, understanding students, using the L1, and teaching grammar / vocabulary / translation. Next, once they have realised what they are perceived as being good at and what they are expected to do, they should consciously try to make the most of their advantages in their actual teaching, and fulfil students’ expectations.
While trying to utilise their strengths, non-NESTs should also strive to develop these strengths even more. For example, if their L1 use helps learning, they need to improve their skills in it by determining the most effective ways of using it, that is, when to use it, how to use it, how much to use it, and so on. As mentioned in Chapter 1, there is not an ideal model for L1 use which can be applied to any teaching situation (Atkinson, 1993), and therefore non-NESTs always need to consider the best way of using L1 on each occasion.
With regard to students, they need to be educated about L2 teaching and learning. The participants in the current survey showed a clear preference for NESTs and negative attitudes to non-NESTs, and the main reason for this was the native speaker fallacy, which is based on their limited knowledge of L2 teaching and learning. Therefore, it is necessary to provide them with general language education and raise their language awareness, that is, to teach what language is, how it is acquired, what the difference between L1 acquisition and L2 acquisition is, what the difference between native speakers and L2 speakers is, and so forth. Moreover, teachers need to teach the difference between NESTs and non-NESTs and sensitise students more to the non-NESTs’ advantages, whose importance is not sufficiently recognised by learners. By doing these, learners’ negative views of non-NESTs will be diminished.
It is true that non-NESTs are in a severe situation, but there is a solution. As has been described above, non-NESTs should properly understand their own strengths, and then they need to exploit these strengths. At the same time, it is necessary to raise learners’ language awareness and sensitise them to the non-NESTs’ strengths in order to improve their negative perceptions of non-NESTs. Non-NESTs should always be pursuing the best way to teach their local students, and their constant effort will produce more successful L2 learners in their home communities. Eventually, their important role in ELT will come to be recognised, and finally they will remove the stigma attached to them for so long.