By Claudia Perdomo and Yuly Socadagui

“…The need for understanding the dichotomy between native speakers and non-native speakers in order to improve the English language teaching in Colombia” (Mariño, 2011)

In Colombia, the importance of learning a second language has generated a controversial competition. In this competition, the native English teachers have the favoritism of the learners; a non-native English teacher has to prove his abilities with academic backgrounds. Some authors like Claudia Mariño (2011) Cook (2002) affirm that maybe it is difficult to define what a native speaker is and who is better, defending the idea about the disadvantages of being a native English teacher. On other the hand, there are some theories that affirm the disadvantages of having non-native English teachers. This paper attempts to analyze one position and be critical in a positive manner understanding the concept of native or non-native English teachers, acknowledging their strengths teaching advantages. To develop this topic, first, we want to offer a definition of native English teacher and non-native English teacher. Secondly, identify the strength of each kind of teachers, and finally, how the abilities each kind of teacher has, can be beneficial in the language learning and teaching field.

First, it is important to understand de concept of being a native English teacher and non-native English teacher. A native English teacher, is usually a person who has spoken a certain language since early childhood and teach this language to other people . In this case we are enfacing the idea of the linguistic development, taking into account the management of the communication, the fluent and the creativity of the speech that the native English teacher use to teach the language. On other hand, we can say that the concept of being native not implies that the use of the language is correct, “Being born into a group does not mean that you automatically speak its language well” Ramptom (1990) and of course, that does not mean that you are able to teach this language efficiently, the pedagogical abilities are not related with the use of the speech. In this perspective maybe it is difficult define what a native speaker is, but it is easy to understand what a native English teacher is. That happen because there is a contextual aspect that defines the speaking development (family, friends, work etc), but there is an educational context that define the teaching skills.

The non-native teacher, is a person “who know and use a second language at any level” (cook 1999) and teach this language to other people. In this case, they usually adapt the language, to improve the communication with the students because “have a different command of the second and first languages” (Mariño 2011). Clearly, this concept can result easy to understand, but it is important to take into account that like the native English teacher, the use of the language and the respective adaptation that the non-native English use; do not define the pedagogical abilities.

Second, both teachers have strengths, which we should identify for good use of their abilities. Then, each kind of teacher has good or beneficial quality or attribute, which we can identify and take advantages and avoid being critical in a negative manner, according to Davies cited by Claudia Mariño a native English teacher have control speech to performance and communication, because they have a unique capacity to produce fluent spontaneous discourse (Davis, 2003, p.207) which allows that their students develop listening and get used to listening a real accent. (Perdomo & Socadagui, 2013, p.4). Also, according to Medgyes cited by Claudia Mariño, nonnative English teachers are able to: teach learning strategies more effectively, provide learners with more information about the second language, anticipate students’ needs and difficulties when learning the second language, be more concerned to the needs and problems of their students, Share the students’ mother tongue when necessary in order to achieve a greater experience and understanding when teaching learning the language. (Mariño, 2011, p.138)

Apparently, each kind of teacher show strengths and weaknesses but we should consider the advantages that both present. For example a non- native English teacher is known for be able to teach the grammar, according to Llurda “ NNS teachers have a more structure approach to teaching grammar and are better able to deal with grammatical difficulties” this happen because the non-native teacher has the contextual skills or the familiar environment. On other hand, native English teacher are able to teach levels of conversation, “they were also found to be more capable of getting their learners to speak”(Llurda, 2006). This happen because they use the creativity to make their lessons more friendly and confident.

Certainly, the pedagogical abilities can appear in each kind of teacher, the position of each author like Claudia Marino and the preferences of the learners can be respected but cannot be generalized. It is important to understand that the strengths and weaknesses, advantages and pedagogical skills that both teachers have; can be beneficial in the teaching field. For that reason our purpose is to be critical, with the myths that the society has with each kind of teacher. That why, we consider that we should avoid being critical in a negative manner, because we should remember that both teachers have the same objective: teaching a second language.


BRAINE. George. (1999). Non-native educator in English language teaching, university of Hong Kong.

CHRISTEN, Svenja. (2009). Native or Non-native speakers: Who are the better English teachers?. Seminar Denmark

MARIÑO, Claudia.  (2011). Reflecting on the dichotomy native-non native speakers in an EFL context.  Anagramas: Rumbos y sentidos de la comunicación, ISSN 1692-2522, Vol. 9, Nº. 19, 2011, pags. 129-142. Retrieved from

MEDGYES, P. (1992). Native or non-native: Who’s worth more?.  ELT Journal, 46, 4, 340-349.

LLURDA, Enrique. (2006) “Non-Native Language Teachers: Perceptions, Challenges and Contributions to the profesion”. Springer.

RAMPTON, M.B.H. (1990). Displacing the ‘native speaker’: expertise, affiliation, and inheritance. ELT Journal Volume 44/2. © Oxford University Press.






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