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Can a non-native be a good English teacher?

May 6, 2020 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

Can a non-native be a successful English teacher?

This is a question which came up in a recent MEFA Group coaching Call.

The short answer is, of course.

But we can think of this from two perspectives:

  1. One of marketing (will schools or students want to pay money for a non-native teacher)
  2. One of education (am I unable to teach well because English isn’t my first language).

Let’s talk about these in detail, based on the research of Peter Medgyes:

So basically, neither is better than the other: they’re just different.

Native speakers have a native level of intuition that non-native teachers might not have unless they’ve worked to develop it, but on the other hand, non-natives have a much level of empathy for their students.

Form a marketing perspective, there are plenty of students who prefer non-native speakers.

But the important point is, don’t try to compete with your weaknesses — instead, flip it over and work on your strengths instead. Or, to put it another way, you’re not a native speaker; so don’t try to be.

Now, of course, this doesn’t mean you can get away with not improving your English: not only is this essential, but you’ll be more inspiring to your students if you can demonstrate you’re learning together with them.

If you need my help with that, consider taking the MEFA course.

Or, if you want my help being more inspiring to your students while making more money and teaching with less stress and less hassle, you might be interested in the Extraordinary English Teachers Project.

That’s it for today.

Julian Northbrook

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