There is a lot of languages teachers out there. They can be divided into two main groups, regardless of the language they teach: the group of native speakers and the group of non-native speakers. They both teach and they can both succeed as tutors, but there is still a difference between them, and it concerns some key points particularly controversial.
A significant number of students affirm that they prefer a non-native teacher, and this for different reasons.
We would like to analyze these ideas to better understand why people keep asking for a non-mother-tongue speaker teacher.
Learning a foreign language with a native speaker teacher is harder.
Some people think that begin learning a foreign language with a non-native speaker teacher can be easier for matters as pronunciation and understanding. It’s true that understanding a non-mother-tongue speaker can be easier, but you are dealing with an unnatural pronunciation, so maybe you can understand now, but you might have more problems in understanding a native speaker later. Although he has a very deep competence and a perfect knowledge of grammar, he still doesn’t have the same awareness of a native speaker. Moreover one of the disadvantages of a non-native speaker teacher is that you cannot avoid neither bad accent nor mistakes, while a native one can impart all the nuances and fluency which students usually struggle to obtain. So it seems easier, but actually can lead more disadvantages than advantages.
Learning a foreign language with a native speaker is intimidating.
It can be intimidating in both cases. It is up to the teacher to create a comfortable ambiance for learning, and usually qualified teachers can easily do it basically because they receive a training in classroom management that allow them to best deal with all learning problems a student may run into.
Learning a foreign language with a native speaker is harder because he doesn’t know what learning a language means.
It can be possible. For that reason someone assume that the best teacher is the one who has a previous personal experience in learning a foreign language. Having been a learner, he can put himself in the student’s shoes and try to make the learning process easier.
Native speaker teachers know the language but they are not able to teach it.
It can be true in general because many people think they can teach just because they are native speaker. This is one of the most current myth. Actually a good teacher is supposed to be not only a native speaker, but also a qualified teacher. So he is supposed to attend a training allowing him to teach in the best conditions for students. It means that he has to study not only what to teach, but also how to teach it. And it’s easier for a native speaker teacher because he already has the feeling for his language and how to use it in the different contexts of everyday life.
Advantages of a native language teacher
In teaching a language there is more than just some grammar rules or some vocabulary. In a language there are also its culture, its history and its way to refer to reality that affect language use. Only a native speaker can explain and transmit them because he grew up breathing all these parts of civilization while, as far as a non-mother-tongue teacher could live in a foreign country, study its culture and try (almost succeeding in it) to assimilate what is the genius of the language, he always will do it from a foreign point of view.
What kind of teacher you would like to have?