Native-Speaker Teacher Superiority: a Myth?

Ian Walkinshaw

Many people involved in ESOL – teachers and learners alike – seem convinced that a native speaker of English is naturally better at teaching it than a non-native speaker.  But does the ability to speak English really have anything do with teaching it?  Do native speakers really have an innate advantage over non-native speakers, simply because English is their first language?  Or is it that the English language teaching industry, which is based in English-speaking countries, seeks to maintain an advantage over communities which want to learn English by perpetuating a popular notion which has relatively little basis in fact?  This presentation will argue that the perceived ‘natural advantage’ of native-speaker teachers, while not completely false, is certainly overstated and places fluent, experienced and qualified non-native teachers at an unfair disadvantage.