(Originally published on Padlet at padlet.com/leadinglingualng/edhsp49x3qnzwb9g? on Monday 11th July 2021)
It is the norm in most Asian countries that Native speakers are best at teaching English.
Unlike other languages, these stereotypes are minimal in order to teach a foreign language.
Now, who is a native speaker? A person who has spoken the language in question from their early childhood. This does not objectively mean they speak the language correctly without mistakes or without under tones. For example, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, is taught to speak English in the accepted and recognised way after much training on poise, intonation and gesture, thus not all native speakers are automatically a perfect fit in teaching and learning.
There are a lot of TEFL courses online and in-class that require even native speakers to be trained; however, these schools fail to properly prepare those tagged as non-native speakers as a result of nationality and are seen as inadequate even when their first language is English. Some have a degree in English, some go as far as a Masters degree in English yet they are told they are not native speakers so they cannot teach English.
Some parts of Asia are beginning to understand that being a teacher goes beyond Nationality, to Mastery of a certain subject, the ability to teach it, a passion for teaching, years of experience, character, lifestyle, emotional intelligence and education.
I have been in a room with future TEFL teachers who do not understand the rudiments of the language they speak fluently. I have heard Americans or South Africans who are labelled as native speakers use English in the wrong way in terms of structure and pronunciation and I practically believe that schools (foundation, primary, secondary and college) should consider what it means for “native speakers” to be fit for teaching.
Regardless of their nationality, a native speaker is someone who has used the language almost all their lives and a Specialist language teacher is someone who understands the language, who understands the nitty gritty of the target language, uses it in the globally accepted way for effective communication, socio-economic integration, devises several means to ensure their targets understand and can use the target language in a fun, simple and efficient way and also maintain these standards in Speaking, Reading, Writing and Listening.
The teacher should also have attributes that reflects resilience, empathy, discipline, poise, and excellence. Quality Education should not be about stereotypes or generalisation, such as many African nations knowing and teaching Maths in its purest form or only Native speakers being people originally from a country without looking at writing skills, grammar, behaviour, experience, education, ability to pass standardised tests and many more.
For sustainable development through quality education, innovation, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities, decent work peace justice and strong institutions and economic growth, organisations globally need to focus on standards and not stereotypes.