- Non-native Language Teachers: Perceptions, Challenges and Contributions to the Profession
As a non-native speaker, teacher, and teacher educator of French as a second language (FSL), I was personally intrigued by and invested in reading this volume of 15 chapters, edited by Enric Llurda from the University of Lleida in Spain. On a daily basis, I struggle to overcome feelings of insecurity as a non-native speaker of the language I teach and guide others to teach. Llurda and the 17 other contributors to this collection all make significant contributions to a growing area of debate and research. Their efforts will undoubtedly help educators like me reflect and grow, resulting in increased teacher confidence and therefore more effective second and foreign language teaching around the world. Although the entire volume focuses on the teaching of English in nine different countries, researchers, teacher educators, applied linguists, and teachers of all languages will find resonance in many of the texts.
Llurda launches the collection with a short introductory chapter in which he articulates his overall goal for the book: 'the establishment of non-native speakers (NNSs) as legitimate language teachers ... this book gives clues that help identify NNS teachers' qualities, improve teacher training programs, and guide administrators in their selection of the best possible teachers' (p. 8).
The volume is divided into five sections. The first contains two chapters that review existing literature related to the book's theme. Braine, who conducted some pioneering work in this area, provides a historical overview, a form of meta-analysis of eight relevant studies. Chapter 3, by Modiano, calls for an international studies component in all English language teaching programs to provide students with culture-specific notions of new standard Englishes, thus recognizing the multicultural nature of English and breaking down traditional definitions of the native speaker concept. [End Page 647]
Part Two contains four chapters that focus on NNS teachers in the classroom. Of particular note in this section is Cook's contribution, in which he argues, based on his theory of multi-competence, that the field would be better served to refer to and judge language teachers as users of the language they teach, rather than from a deficit perspective, wherein we identify what NNS teachers cannot do or never become. Cots and Díaz's study, outlined in chapter 6, also makes a unique contribution. These researchers conducted a micro-analytical discourse analysis of two NS and two NNS EFL teachers. Examining subjectivity in these teachers' discourse, the authors show that nativeness is not necessarily a factor in many language functions, such as personalization.
The third section of the volume contains three chapters that focus on teacher education for NNS teachers of English. The first, written by Llurda, examines how practicum supervisors perceive NNS and NS candidates in their TESOL programs. Although the survey upon which this chapter is based is not without its flaws (a low response rate, in particular), the study would be useful for institutions and organizations struggling to identify competency criteria for L2 and FL teachers. Llurda argues for high language proficiency but indicates that 'this alone does not guarantee successful language teaching' (p. 146). The following chapter, by Liu, is unique in two ways: first, the author presents the only ethnographic case study in the volume; second, the context studied is rather shocking. Liu recounts the stories of four Chinese graduate students faced with the unfair task of teaching first-year English composition to native English speakers at an American university. Chapter 10, written by two NS teacher educators from Canada, Derwing and Munro, stands out from the other contributions, especially when the authors explicitly claim that the NS/NNS debate is
irrelevant in and of itself. Instead a focus must be placed on ensuring that future teachers have an appropriate level of proficiency in English, that they gain the requisite knowledge and skills for classroom teaching and they are able to employ pedagogically sound principles in the classroom.(pp. 180-181)
Derwing and Munro argue for consideration of qualifications...