Are Native Speakers Better Language Teachers?

Language connects us across borders and cultures, but on the journey of learning a new language, and especially when learning English, students need to choose a teacher they trust and feel comfortable with. When making that decision, however, one burning question arises: Should I pick a native speaker as my teacher or not?

In this article, we are going to explore this problem if native speakers really make better teachers and with that, find out if you should keep reading my articles or not.

So first, we’re going to take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of being a native-speaking English teacher. We’ll examine their strengths from pronunciation to cultural roots as well as their weaknesses. Then we’ll try to draw a conclusion on if native speakers are the gold standard of teaching or if there is more to it than just being born into a certain language background.

So, get ready because this is going to be an interesting one.

Advantages of Being a Native-speaking Language Teacher

Let’s dive right into the advantages of native-speaking English teachers. First of all, experience and intuition are two important aspects to consider. Learning a language is not only about mastering grammar or memorising as much vocabulary as possible but also about intuitively understanding the subtle cultural nuances, idioms and other characteristics specific to the language. Imagine learning how to communicate well not just from textbooks but from someone who has lived and breathed the language their whole life. Native speakers simply have a level of experience that non-natives probably can’t fully reach.

Secondly, authentic pronunciation is another vital point that set native speakers apart from the rest. Intonation, word and sentence stress as well as the right rhythm – great pronunciation is an art in itself and who could help you better than someone who has learned and used it themselves since birth? Accurate pronunciation isn’t just about sounding right; it’s about understanding the cadence, the accent, and the nuances that make the language come alive. Native speakers, with their linguistic heritage, become true masters at these things.

Thirdly, cultural context matters a lot. Language is not a standalone entity; it’s tightly woven into a culture. Native speakers serve as cultural ambassadors, offering a glimpse into the soul of a language. Learning a language isn’t just about vocabulary and syntax; it’s about understanding the customs, traditions, and the unspoken rules that make communication happen. Native speakers can bridge this gap, giving you a richer and more profound language learning experience.

Last but not least, the personal connection between a teacher and a learner is the heartbeat of language education. Native speakers, with their cultural roots, often create a unique bond that goes beyond just instructions. The shared cultural experiences, the relatable anecdotes—these elements create a sense of connection, making the language journey not just educational but really personal. Native speakers, in this regard, become not just instructors but language mentors who learners can connect with on a deeper level.

OK, we’ve explored the strengths of native speakers as language educators, from their experiential knowledge to their role as cultural ambassadors. But, as with any debate, there’s another side to consider.

Disadvantages of Being a Native-speaking Language Teacher

Next, let’s consider some of the disadvantages of being a native speaker when it comes to language teaching.

First and most importantly, knowing, for example, English as a first language doesn’t guarantee a good and valuable learning experience. Effective language teaching involves more than just a natural connection with the language. Pedagogical training plays a crucial role in crafting structured, engaging, and effective lessons. Non-native teachers often have deeper formal training and, therefore, provide their students with easier-to-follow breakdowns of grammatical structures and language concepts. On top of that, because they had to learn the language themselves, non-native teachers know the struggles and pitfalls very well and can adapt lessons to their students’ needs.

The second disadvantage native teachers often have is that thanks to globalisation and the internationalisation of language, English is spoken by more people as a second language than as a native tongue. Students might seek out a variety of accents in order to equip themselves for their work environment where they are more likely to communicate with other non-native speakers, and that means that non-native accents offer a wider range of input, just like reality demands the comprehension of many different variations of English – or any other language for that matter.


So now all that’s left to do is to answer the questions from the beginning of this video: Should you choose a native teacher or not and should I quit my job? Of course, the answer is: It depends.

We saw that native speakers have some great advantages, especially when their students look for flawless pronunciation and an experience that includes cultural aspects as well as a personal connection between the learner and the language.

On the other hand, non-native teachers often come with a better theoretical background having studied the language themselves and, therefore, understanding their students’ situation better than native speakers.

I believe that every student should assess what exactly they are looking for and choose their teacher or language school based on that. For me, there is no better or worse when it comes to the question of what makes better teachers…and I think I can keep my job after all.

Lots of love,

Teacher Phill 🙂

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