The Case for Non Native Teachers

Are you sure you want to turn down first-rate language trainers?

“The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones.” – John Maynard Keynes

You want to do business in India, China and Brazil, but you only want teachers with accents from New York, London or Dublin. Why?

The answer, whether we’ll admit it or not, is that it’s just the way it is.

We like to say that we want a native accent, or to speak perfect English, but in a world where natives do not speak perfectly and business is done with men and women who do not necessarily have Australian or American accents but also Indian and Chinese, these reasons are no longer valid. The only remaining answer is that it’s the way we’ve always worked and the way we’ll continue to work.

Time and again some of my best teachers are turned away by clients because they are not “native”. Unlike many academies in Spain, we refuse to lie and say all our teachers are native. They are not, and we’re proud of that fact. Of our star teachers, 8 out of 10 are nonnative. They hail from Spain, Poland, Peru, Venezuela, etc. and they are the crème de la crème. They keep on top of education trends, new methodologies, new technologies to enhance the learning experience – they go above and beyond what is necessary to make sure their students get the best education possible.

Native teachers, on the other hand, usually have no training whatsoever in the field, have very little interest in teaching and simply started as a way to pay their bills while they travel. Many academies, knowing that the Spanish market values natives over nonnatives (that sentence alone sounds archaic), will hire any native speaker, regardless of their background, education or skill.

And that is just one justification for “non-native” teachers.

The second, and possibly most important, is the question raised before – if you want to work in non native English speaking countries, shouldn’t you start learning the English they speak; with the accents they speak with? I can guarantee that in New York and London companies do not say “native accents only” when hiring. They hire the best and the brightest. Accent and impeccable grammar aren’t even on the mind let alone in the requirements.

There’s lots of talk about internationalization, outsourcing and expanding abroad, but without the real language skills necessary to communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world, in English, those words are just words and they will never be a reality. Spanish companies will continue to struggle in the international market and will lose time and again to northern European companies.

Circling back to the start of this entry, at the end of the day, the only real difficulty in changing from a “natives only” mindset to a “World English” mindset is the act of changing itself. In an ever changing world you either move with the flow of the times or drown in the past.


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