‘Native speaker’ and ‘Non-native speaker’ English Language Teachers: Students Experiences in Saudi Context

Proceedings of ‏The 2nd International Conference on New Approaches in Education

Year: 2020


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‘Native speaker’ and ‘Non-native speaker’ English Language Teachers: Students Experiences in Saudi Context


Areej Alruwaili



Although native-speakerism has been challenged both by researchers and practitioners, the belief that ‘native speaker’ of English make more ‘effective’ teachers dominate in the context of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) education in Saudi Arabia. As a result, many ‘non-native speaker’ teachers of English find themselves considered to be less ‘effective’ whilst university administrators are under pressure to recruit ‘native speaker’ English teachers. This article reports on research carried out with university students in Saudi context. Adopting an interpretative qualitative approach, this study investigated the attitudes and experiences of the 18 female students studying at ‘Al-Shamal University’. Data collection included semi-structured interviews, and observations. In order to examine whether and how native-speakerism affected the students’ views, the main focus was on the relative merits of ‘native speaker’ and ‘non-native speaker’ English teachers. Students were found to prefer ‘native speaker’ English teachers who they perceived as developing their speaking skills and using games and as having certain personal traits such as being friendly, flexible, patient and warm. When talking Arab ‘nonnative’ English teachers, the students appreciated their pedagogical skills, in particular their effectiveness in teaching grammar, as well as their ability to use, when necessary, the Arabic language. They also found Arab teachers to be ‘strict’ a positive trait. The students appreciated their Non-Arab ‘non-native’ English teachers’ pedagogical skills, in particular their effectiveness in teaching speaking skills and using games as well as the personal traits such as patience. All the participants revealed the both types of teachers are effective in teaching listening skills. Overall, the findings point to a ‘pro-native speaker’ mentality among the students suggesting that EFL education in Saudi Arabia many be affected by native-speakerism, at least on the part of the students who participated in this study.

Keywords: native-speakerism; ‘non-native speaker’ teachers; ‘native speaker’ teachers; pedagogical skills; personal traits; qualitative approach.

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Areej Alruwaili

University of East Anglia UK

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