Native English speaker = better teacher?

James Egerton

“I want my English teacher to be a native speaker” is a common attitude when people are looking for an English class. But is a native speaker a better English teacher only because they were born in a certain place? An estimated 80% of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) teachers worldwide do not have English as their first language; are all their students getting a raw deal? Of course not!

When I think about this topic, I remember my own experience of learning Spanish at secondary school. My best teacher was an Englishman who lived round the corner from me (viva Señor Lanzon!!) and my worst one (anonymous) was more Spanish than a plate of paella. This non-native teacher ran the class better, organised an annual trip to Spain, knew how to manage our disciplinary issues (more or less) and taught interesting and dynamic lessons Spanish was…

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