This talk is a response to Silvana Richardson’s plenary presentation at IATEFL 2016 in Birmingham. Big thanks to everyone who came along!
And here’s the abstract of my talk, which I sent through as my proposal:
There have been a number of praiseworthy initiatives within the NEST/non-NEST debate which have raised awareness of ELT professionals about the value of non-native teachers (e.g. the work of TEFL Equity Advocates, and Silvana Richardson’s IATEFL 2016 plenary talk). However, most recently these campaigns seem to have focussed mainly on challenging the use of terms “native” and “non-native speaker”, and on targeting language education providers who advertise their preference to hire native speakers, thus violating employment laws. While it is true that the terms “native” and “non-native speaker” label language teachers in an over-simplified manner and create a false and self-perpetuating dichotomy, simply replacing these terms with more constructive ones in professional ELT discourse (including job advertisements) may not necessarily solve the problem in the long run. In my view, future consciousness raising initiatives need to address the real reasons for which non-native English-speaking teachers might be regarded as less desired, which are: their often less reliable linguistic intuition, and the quality of language input that they can offer. I will propose that open discussion of the native and non-native teachers’ areas of strength, and not shying away from acknowledging that in certain areas some NESTs might have an advantage over some non-NESTs (and vice versa), are necessary for a better understanding of how native and non-native teachers can supplement each other. This talk will contribute to the strand of argument that optimal language learning outcomes are achieved when learners are taught by a combination of native and non-native teachers.