The impact of Native Speaker ads in ELT

Students often do not know what is good for them.

I will say it again, this time more clearly:
New English students don’t really know anything about teacher qualifications, what native speakerism is, the struggles that non native speakers face, or how good their teachers are. 

The message for the longest time has been, native speaker teachers are good (meaning non native teachers are bad).

Hence, we find ourselves having to justify WHY we are English teachers at all, being born in so and so place, not speaking like Her Majesty.

The narrative has become counterproductive for students because they find themselves in a room with a native speaker and not a native or non-native TEACHER

The problems that arise with that are many, because speakers who are not teachers:

  1. Can’t speak in a clear, comprehensible way so that ANY level learner can understand them (grading language and local accent come to mind)
  2. They speak too fast because they just speak – meanwhile when a teacher speaks he or she is actually listening to him/herself through the students’ mind and adapting lexical choices just enough for them to understand, yet be challenged at the same time (comprehensible input +1)
  3. The use of unfamiliar and inadequate expressions simply comes from not knowing which elements are relevant to be taught and which are not as important. 

“…native-speakerism needs to be addressed at the level of the prejudices embedded in everyday practice, and dominant professional discourses must be put aside if the meanings and realities of students and colleagues from outside the English-speaking West are to be understood.”

Holliday, 2005. The Struggle to Teach English as an International Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

There is a lot you can teach, but will it be useful to that particular student or group?

Experienced teachers almost always know what the next hurdle is, and they know how to guide you to overcome that specific hurdle eithout overwhelming you with unnecessary information in that moment.

The reason students find themselves in this condition – with NON-teachers teaching and unemployed teachers rolling their eyes – is because the truth has been concealed from them. 


Potential language learners have been brainwashed by ads telling them a NATIVE TEACHER is all they need, but a native SPEAKER is all they get.

They have been told they can SOUND native if they have a NATIVE TEACHER.

They have been told that if their teacher was born in a non English speaking country, then he or she cannot be a teacher.

I don’t know about you, but I’m only glad doctors don’t face the same discrimination. 

We – qualified teachers, native or not – are professionals and should be treated as such. Please share this blog post to raise awareness of discriminatory practices being fed to the public.

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