Non-Native Educators in English Language Teaching

Non-Native Educators in English Language Teaching

Non-Native Educators in English Language Teaching

Non-Native Educators in English Language Teaching


The place of native and non-native speakers in the role of English teachers has probably been an issue ever since English was taught internationally. Although ESL and EFL literature is awash, in fact dependent upon, the scrutiny of non-native learners, interest in non-native academics and teachers is fairly new. Until recently, the voices of non-native speakers articulating their own concerns have been even rarer.

This book is a response to this notable vacuum in the ELT literature, providing a forum for language educators from diverse geographical origins and language backgrounds. In addition to presenting autobiographical narratives, these authors argue sociopolitical issues and discuss implications for teacher education, all relating to the theme of non-native educators in ETL. All of the authors are non-native speakers of English. Some are long established professionals, whereas others are more recent initiates to the field. All but one received part of the higher education in North America, and all except two of the chapters are at least partially contextualized in North America.

Particularly relevant for non-native speakers who aspire to enter the profession, graduate students in TESOL programs, and teacher educators, the unique nature of this book's contributors and its contents will interest researchers and professionals in applied linguistics generally and in ELT, and all those who are concerned with the role of non-native speakers in English-language teaching.


In a delightful article in The New Yorker, the Indian-born doctor Abraham Verghese recalls an incident that occurred soon after his arrival in the United States. Emboldened by his medical abilities and high scores in the required examinations, Verghese is confident of obtaining an internship at a "Plymouth Rock" hospital affiliated to a prestigious medical school. However, a more experienced compatriot warns him that these hospitals "have never taken a foreign medical graduate" and advises Verghese "not even to bother with that kind of place." Instead, he is told to apply to more humble "Ellis Island" hospitals, those situated in inner cities and rural areas, which U.S. doctors avoid. "We are" Verghese's compatriot continues, "like a transplanted organ -- lifesaving and desperately needed, but rejected because we are foreign tissue" (1997).

The foreign medical graduate anecdote is an apt analogy for this book, because it too deals mainly with foreign-born professionals who have moved to North America to advance their education and careers. However, unlike foreign medical graduates, non-native educators are not considered vital or lifesaving; instead, they are often regarded as unnecessary by-products of the MA and Ph.D. programs in applied linguistics and TESOL in North America. Although many foreign medical graduates eventually get internships filling positions that U.S. graduates refuse to accept, NNS English teachers are less fortunate in finding employment. Nevertheless, the prospect of unemployment, of being denied to practice what they have been trained to do, is only one of the problems that these educators face. Almost from their arrival, many of them discover that their credentials are questioned, their accents are misunderstood, and that they are marginalized in the profession.

Non-Native Educators in English Language Teaching is best defined in terms of what it does not set out to do. For the most part, it does not deal with English teachers from Periphery or non-English speaking (EFL) countries. A majority of English speakers can be considered non-natives and a proportionate number of NNSs would be teaching English in all parts of the world. They and their situations are unique to each country, depending on their first language backgrounds, level of education and training, teaching methods, aspirations and career prospects, and the . . .

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