#208: Are Natives Really Better Teachers?

Do native English speakers really make better teachers? There’s a lot of controversy surrounding this topic called native-speakerism and so we discuss the advantages of having a non-native English teacher as well as the advantages of having a native English teacher. It really goes beyond just having English as a first language and we hope that this podcast would help you to make an informed decision when choosing your teacher.

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  • Native English teachers vs Non-native English teachers
  • Native Speakerism
  • What makes a good teacher?

Words You’ll Learn:

  • Spell-check
  • Debunk
  • Corridor
  • A means to an end
  • Get one’s elbows dirty
  • Build rapport

Quick Definitions:

  • Give credit where credit is due: this is an expression that means that you should praise someone who deserves it
  • “Psychological trigger: something that causes someone to feel in a certain way or to do something.
  • “Some people believe that natives are a magic bullet: something that works as a magic solution to a problem, often involving little or no effort at all.
  • “…give you the English language spoon-fed”: If something is spoon-fed to you, it’s given to you and you don’t have to make an effort to get it, earn it, learn it, etc.
  • Take something with a grain of salt: to regard something as exaggerated; believe only part of something.
  • “That’s something that kind of sours people to learning with non-natives”: to become, or cause to become, less pleasant, friendly, or successful.
  • “Do they light up when they’re telling that story?”: to look happy.
  • “It boils down to what you want to achieve?”: to reduce information, usually so that it contains only its most important parts.

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  • Hello guys. How you doing? I just wanna thank you for your amazing work, teaching English. When I found real life English my English learning has changed. I had already made a course of English. But I am still on the way to fluency. I’m sure I’ll get it. Having that contact with natives talking and immersing myself into English was something that was missing in my studies. You guys helped me to do it. I learn a lot with you in each lesson and podcast. Thanks a bunch. May God bless you all.
    Referring to this podcast, for me, in the level I am, I’d feel comfortable with a teacher who has a high level of fluency. If he/she can speak my language, it’s still better. By the way, I prefer a teacher, being native but that learned another language. He/she knows the road I’m in now.

    • Justin says:

      Thanks for your suppor Mauricio!

  • Marina says:

    I’d like to thank you for your great work! I had earlier experience teaching English in the East of Siberia. Then I moved to the South-West of Russia to Saint-Petersburg. In Snt. Pete I continued teaching only for a short period of time and then decided to change by job and joined a big international company where I work now. But the thing is that now I really want to share my experience and not only in the field of project management where I am deeply involved now but also teaching a kind of specific business language. Your web source really helps a lot to find a certain kind of methodology that I can use sharing experience with young engineers who ask me for help with English.
    With kind regards,
    Your listener.

  • Nour el houda says:

    What an interesting and informative poscast I realy enjoyed listening to it .

  • Andrew says:

    I totally agree with this and can say that at the beginning it is much better to study English with a teacher who knows your native language and then, step by step, you should immerse yourself into the English environment (almost completely) in order to achieve desirable result. Then, as time passes, it becomes easier and easier to understand natives because you consume a lot of information from them, get used to listening to that language and then you inevitably improve your listening skills and even your speaking skills. The best part is when you even start thinking in English (sometimes, of course, not all the time, but it’s definitely more than nothing). So, if you are a beginner, then it will be better to start your journey with a non-native English teacher and then, as your level grows, you should set the bar higher and continue to improve your English with native speakers.

    • Justin says:

      Wow, amazing insight Andrew. Thanks for sharing!

  • Massimo says:

    Hello folks. Cool topic. “ARE native really better teachers?”. IMHO, they AREN’T, but they SHOULD BE. It’s **expected** that a longer exposition to (let’s say: English) language and CULTURE since the childhood make English native teachers more aware of cultural background, including many shades of linguistic registers. So, if we choose randomly two teacher (one native and one not) chances are higher that the earlier own a linguistic background deeper than the latter.
    However, I’m talking about CHANCES and EXPECTATION of CULTURAL background *awareness*, not about FORMAL STRUCTURE *skills*.
    In add, the fact that a native can have been longerly culturally aware doesn’t imply that he/she would keep on aware of it for the rest of his/her life. For example, I’m a native Italian speaker, I moved to Brazil 10 years ago and I taught Italian for a while here. Since then, I speak Portuguese the whole day and, quite rarely, Italian. Indeed, I don’t know how Italian looks like since 2010 on, I don’t know “what’s happening in Italy”. Surely, I used my Italian cultural background while I talked with my Brazilian students, but the more I stay out of *CONTEMPORARY* Italian background, the more my advantage of being a native slightly fade out. If I would continue staying out of Italian practice, let’s say, for more 10 years, chances are that I’ll be a native teacher as proficient as a good non-Native teacher which spend much time practicing a “living” Italian.
    Thanks for your attention.
    Cheers from Brazil

    • Agnieszka Tkacz says:

      Thank you for sharing, Massimo!