Beyond the native speaker: why teacher ed matters

woman reading

The problematic and, sadly, widespread native speaker fallacy suggests that all that’s needed to teach English to language learners is to have grown up in an English-speaking country.

This isn’t just deeply offensive–considering that our whole field is dedicated to developing and empowering new users of our language. It’s also completely wrong.

In a recent blog post, Kristen Lindhal argues that it’s education, not birthplace, that makes a great teacher. Entitled “5 Reasons we need TESOL teacher education,” the post details some of the crucial strengths that educated TESOLers bring to their work.

For those of us who have taught English both before and after our own TESOL education, this will likely ring true. Having an English-speaking background is a great affordance to draw from in our teaching, but it’s in no way a prerequisite. Education is what makes us effective.

Want to dig deeper? Follow this up with Valerie Hobb’s great ELT Journal article on the limitations of one-month certificates for TESOL education.

Worth a read for: 

  • TESOLers of all backgrounds.
  • Current and future NNEST advocates.
  • Teacher managers and hiring panels.
  • TESOL teacher educators.

Discussed in this post:

Lindhahl, K. (2016). 5 Reasons We Need TESOL Teacher Education, Blog. Accessed June 27, 2016 at