Are Native English Speakers Really Better Teachers?

Native TeacherI’m an American English teacher living in Belo Horizonte, and after three years of teaching, it has become increasingly clear to me that the majority of Brazilians have a very strong belief that native speaking teachers are superior to non-natives/Brazilian teachers.

I’ve thought a lot about this, and even though I’ve really benefited from this, it has always seemed a bit strange to me. To be honest, the more I teach and learn about my strengths and weaknesses, the more this idea seems limited, and in some cases, absurd. It’s really much more complicated than people think.

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This article will explore the “native vs non-native” topic from a balanced perspective, and it will attempt to separate fact from fiction. Are native speakers really better, and if so, in what areas and why? What are the advantages of being a non-native when teaching English?

Before anything, let’s clarify one fact.

The most important characteristic of any English teacher

The most important thing is not whether or not the teacher is native speaker or not, but rather if they have know how to teach to the level of their students, if it’s something they are passionate about it, and if they are willing to put the effort in to prepare a good class.

This is common sense.

Some people are naturally good teachers, while others need to work hard. Both types can be successful, but both demand preparation and the intention to help people learn. Having a high or even native proficiency helps a lot, but it’s not a substitute for work ethic and a genuine desire to do a good job.

Some teachers (both native and non-native speakers) have a natural ability and/or strong proficiency but simply don’t know how to teach (or are too lazy to learn). Apart from this, a native teacher is not a magical solution to your English learning problems. If you don’t have a strong desire to learn and dedication to your process, not even the best teacher in the world can help you.

With this said, what are the advantages of both native and non-native English teachers? Let’s start with the underrepresented advantages of being a non-native teacher, then explore what I feel to be the strong points of native speaking teachers, and I’ll tie them together at the end.

Advantages of being a Brazilian/non-native English teacher

The biggest advantage, without a doubt, that non-natives have is that they have consciously learned the language step by step and can guide their students through the labyrinth of confusion that they have already conquered. Native speakers, on the other hand, unconsciously inherit the language from theirs parents and often find themselves struggling to teach certain aspects of grammar or understand what students are going through.

In my case, I’ve learned/been learning languages for the past 8 years (Spanish first, and now Portuguese), and while this gives me immense insight into the language learning process, I still don’t know what it’s really like to learn English. Teachers who have learned the English language through their own blood, sweat and tears have a much greater ability to see through their students’ eyes via their own process.

In addition to understanding the student’s learning of English, a Brazilian English teacher will understand the student’s culture, and be able to cross-reference English through the eyes of Brazilian culture. A good example of this is how Lula is used to teach the “Th” sound in English (Bra-th-ileiros).

Another advantage is that non-native English teachers generally become teachers for reasons that suggest teaching ability and interest in the language. Most Brazilian teachers that I know teach because its something they feel motivated to do, something they enjoy, something they are good at, and something they have received professional training for.

Having a passion for what you teach is a priceless advantage because the teacher’s enthusiasm is totally contagious to not only the student, but other teachers too. I personally know (and learn A TON from) a handful of extremely talented Brazilian English teachers who are complete rock stars at what they do, and although they don’t have the native “brand” on their forehead, or a foreign accent when they speak Portuguese, their students learn from the best, and they learn fast, and they have fun doing it.

On the other hand, most native speaking English teachers I know are not English teachers by choice. They most often do it because they are living in Brazil (because they got married or are involved in other projects not related to teaching English). This is nothing against native speaking English teachers, who may enjoy teaching, and may love living in Brazil. It’s just that it is rarely a “lifelong passion” as it sometimes is for non-natives.

The point is that Brazilian English teachers have many significant advantages that are overlooked in favor of the exaggerated and often inaccurate idea that native speakers are simply far better teachers. That’s not to say that native speakers aren’t naturally better in some areas, but it’s important to have a balanced perspective and give Brazilian English teachers credit where credit is due.

Advantages of being a Native speaking English teacher

While it’s important to recognize the significant talents and advantages of non-native speaking English teachers, there are certain undeniable advantages to being a native speaking English teacher.

First of all, native speakers feel extremely comfortable using the language in a playful and dynamic way that can do a lot to facilitate learning. This takes the pressure off of the grammar and can make the learning experience much more authentic, light and fun.

A native speaker’s repertoire of vocabulary and expressions is going to be so much richer than a non-native can ever be. Of course there are impressive exceptions, but a native’s use of the language, and especially slang and the more dynamic aspects of the language (which are often deeply rooted in the culture) are nearly impossible to emulate by non-native speakers.

The exception though is the .01% of extremely gifted Brazilian learners/ teachers who have learned to use and teach certain aspects of the language that transcend grammar. I’ve only met a few of these teachers ever, but they can emulate a native speaker in not just following the grammar rules, but in breaking them, and then effectively teach it (which few books do). This is mastery that is beyond the scope of the native/ non-native question.

Another advantage about native speakers is that their students generally feel more motivated to speak in English in class. The fact that the teacher is from an English speaking country and not the country of the students generally works as an unconscious trigger for the student to speak the language. This may have nothing to do with the teacher’s proficiency or teaching ability.

The final advantage, which is the most popular, is that a native born teacher will teach or transmit much better pronunciation. This is for sure an advantage, but what a lot of people don’t know is that it’s difficult for beginners and lower intermediate students take advantage of this. In my opinion, upper intermediate and advanced students will benefit a lot more.

With hard work, good strategies, and a little effort, however, anybody can drastically improve their pronunciation without the help of a native teacher, or even by themselves.

Going beyond the Stereotypes

While it’s true that there are clear advantages and disadvantages to both native and non-native speaking English teachers, it’s important to recognize how complicated and full of misconceptions this topic is.

In my opinion, the perceived superiority of native speaking teaching abilities is greatly exaggerated and limited to only certain aspects of teaching, while the advantages of Brazilian teachers, which are many, are completely ignored.

What are your thoughts and experiences? Does Brazilian pop culture and English learning have a hard time valuing its own English teachers to the same extent as it does with native speakers? I would love to hear your ideas and different perspectives on this below.

About the Author: Justin Murray was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, but he currently lives in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He is the founder of the hot new ESL blog, Real Life English.

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60 comentários

  • 14/03/13  
    Ana Cristina diz: 1

    Hi Justin! I really loved your article! I`m Brazilian and I`m currently teaching English in China. And what I`ve been noticing here is very similar to what you`ve mentioned in your article. My native speakers colleagues sometimes see no point in teaching some grammar topics and have difficulties to level their speaking. They`ve never really studied to be a teacher. But I agree with you that you learn a better pronunciation having a native as a teacher and sometimes they also help me solving some grammar doubts we non-natives sometimes face in higher levels. Thanks for your article. How long have you been teaching in Brazil? And are you enjoying it?

    • 14/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Ana Cristina, Thanks so much for the nice comment. It sounds like you’re a living example of what I’m talking about. I’ve been teaching for about 3 years, but before this, I taught in Colombia, and even a little in Mexico. Yes, I am enjoying it it. Writing about it is really cool too. What are you doing in China? Thanks again.

      Cheers,
      Justin

  • 14/03/13  
    Dimas diz: 2

    The problem is not being native or non-native, they both have to be teachers. Doesn’t matter if you have been born in America or England, it doesn’t make anybody a teacher, these ones have to study how to teach.

    • 14/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Dimas, Thanks for commenting. I agree with you that there’s no problem being native or non-native. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. It’s definitely important to prepare and know what you’re doing. This comes more naturally for some people than others. But for those who don’t have the natural talent, where there’s a will there’s a way! Thanks for sharing.

  • 14/03/13  
    Roberto Carneiro Filho diz: 3

    Hi dear,

    I prefer to learn with native teachers, but I had many experiences with native teachers, in Brazil, in Canada and in Ireland, and always I have thought about this situation.
    In my opinion, is better to study foreign language with native teachers, but there is one big problem when the native teachers don’t have didacticism. Surely, to teach foreign language requires too much knowledge, but it is not only, the good teacher need to have taste and ease to teach.

    • 14/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Roberto, Great to hear from you. I think maybe because you know so much English that you prefer to study with natives. I think, however, there are some natives that do have a methodology though. I think people that take there jobs seriously have no problem with this. I think you’re totally right with what you said about having a taste and knowledge to teach. Some people find this through hard work, and others are born with it!

  • 14/03/13  
    Henry Cunha diz: 4

    I see two basic issues in language teaching quality:

    One is that the teacher must have sufficient facility with the target language and the students’ native language so that there is a focus on major structures (don’t get too caught up on side issues) and an awareness of where the two languages behave similarly or differently. A good teacher who doesn’t have a perfect pronunciation, for example, will know to use a lot of different recorded material to make up for that shortcoming.

    The other is whether the teacher really understands how to construct learning opportunities, an understanding which is based on having a good repertoire of tactics and strategies to suit different learning styles. Learners have different strengths: some are more visual, others more auditory; some get more assurance from a formal grammar insight, while others are quite comfortable without a lot of “rules”; some like to work alone, while others like group work; some feel compelled to write things down, while others prefer to just listen and absorb. The smart teacher knows how to sequence activities in such a way as to give a chance to various learning styles.

    So it seems to me that the issue of native vs non-native language mastery is only a small part of the story.

    • 14/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Henry,

      You are right on the money with your comment. I especially liked the second part. This was why I felt compelled to write the article. It’s a side issue that is blown out of proportion.

      I don’t agree 100% with what you said about the recordings though, because it’s not the same thing as the teacher, but recordings are really helpful. But I think it’s an issue only in limited situations.

      I also really liked what you said about understanding the native tongue. This is something that I’ve realized as I learn Portuguese. I can intuit my students mistakes and see exactly where they are coming from. This only comes with time and contact with the Brazilian culture.

      Thank you for your intelligent comment!

      Cheers,
      Justin

  • 14/03/13  
    fabricio 3.14 diz: 5

    I would like to study with a good teacher , only it !
    My teacher don’t speak in English during the classes and She spends a lot of time talking about her family, her life , etc …
    I never had a good teacher so far , It’s difficult to find.

    • 14/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Fabricio, Thank you for the comment. My recommendation: if you’re not happy, you can communicate your problems to your teacher, and if she doesn’t change, switch teachers, or switch schools. You can be your own good teacher! Here’s an article on how Alessandro Brandão, the English Experts owner, taught himself English-http://www.englishexperts.com.br/2007/05/29/autodidata-em-ingles-parte-i/

      Have a good one!

      Justin

  • 14/03/13  
    TeacherNARUTO diz: 6

    I’m an English Teacher here in Angola, i’m Angolan, and until today i have not found a foreign English teacher, most of us are Angolan, and what students seek here are references of the best center rather than sometimes the best teachers. I have to say that i’m lucky because i have been working in one of the best centers in the capital, And i believe that, the right studies (By the the way i’m in the second year of a Modern languages course -English- at University), passion, HARD WORK, is what makes a great English teacher. Congratulations for the article.

    • 14/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey man,

      Good to hear from you. I’ve got an Angolan friend here in Belo Horizonte Brazil. He speaks with a really different accent with Brazilian Portuguese!

      Anyways, thanks so much for your comment and your compliments. It seems like you’re on the right path as an English teacher and learner. My only advice is to find ways to make the language part of your everyday life (TV, music, podcasts, etc). That’s the key to lifelong fluency.

      Thanks again and take care.

      Cheers,
      Justin

  • 14/03/13  
    Kenia diz: 7

    I love your article, I’m also a teacher and I’m Brazilian. What I find difficult is that here in Brazil we have all mixed English (british, american, canadian…) when I first started teaching, there were some vocabulary that I had never heard before because I lived in the US and studied there and a lot of my students knew those words and that got me really frustated but after researching I then realised that the difference was they were speaking british English (I didn’t know what trousers were :/ ), now my question is what do you advise us teachers to do when we come upon those situations? Do you think it is ok to teach both at the same time? Thanks , take care!

    • 14/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hi Kenia, I really appreciate your comment. Where do you live and teach English? With respect to your question about British vs American English, I wouldn’t worry too much about focusing on or choosing one or the other. I know this is hard because people have an idea about what kind of English they want to learn, but it doesn’t honor the reality of a global English.

      American English is much more common, because of TV, movies, and other forms of media. If the majority of your English is American, just let people know that you learned mostly with American pop culture and that there are new words that come up sometimes. This happens to me all the time. I just tell them that I will look up the word and find the right answer.

      So, to answer your question, I think it’s good to teach both at the same time, and fill in the blanks when necessary. It’s good to mix them up. Very very rarely do I meet a Brazilian who speaks American or British English (for 99% of fluent speakers, even if you study at Cultura Inglesa, it still sounds like Brazilian English).

      Beyond that, I think learning just British English is a wasted opportunity to enjoy and learn English so much American pop culture, and although there isn’t nearly as much British pop culture to enjoy, I think the same is true on the other side of things. You can’t consciously choose to not learn from the pop culture you are consuming.

      Anyways, this is a big topic. Thanks a lot for the comment and sorry if I rambled.

      Cheers,
      Justin

  • 14/03/13  
    Dulcineia diz: 8

    The article is really good, but I think what you saida about brazilian people thinking native teachers are better than the others is a cultural problem, brazilian people in general believe that people from other countries are better than they are…I had wonderful teachers and they aren´t native.

    • 14/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hi Dulcineia, Thanks so much for the comment. I actually thought of that and I considered putting it in the article, but I didn’t know how to delicately state that. Congrats on your English (and congrats to your teachers who clearly do a good job). Take care.

      Justin

  • 14/03/13  
    Tim Phillips diz: 9

    Well..congratulations! You just about said it all and in a clear, concise way. (If I were American I might say it was “awesome”). I think Henry’s point about the connection between the two languages – similarities and differences – is extremely important and clearly the more “bilingual” the teacher, the less important the native/non-native distinction becomes. Another point which is worth remembering is the cutural baggage the teacher can bring to bear. Certainly Brazilians who have spent more time abroad will enrich their lessons more than those who have not had the same opportunities.

    • 14/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Tim, I appreciate your comment and compliment. What you said about the “bilingual”/bicultural aspect hits the nail right on the head.

      I really liked what you said about cultural baggage too. I’ve met a lot of Brazilians who have totally absorbed American or British culture, usually in their trips.

      I’m just curious, where are you from? Your name doesn’t seem Brazilian, and you’re not American.

      Thanks again for the comment!

      Cheers,
      Justin

  • 14/03/13  
    João B. L. Ghizoni diz: 10

    I don’t think being a native speaker of a language will make someone a better teacher of that language. I have seen excellent English teachers who have never been outside Brazil, and I have seen native teachers who had no idea of what good methodology meant. So, what makes good teachers is not their nationality, but how much they dedicate themselves to learning the language (or whatever they teach) as well as the ability to teach it. And I believe that knowing the students’ language will make him/her a better teacher.

    Respectuflly, I’d like to ask the writer of the post to comment on these excerpts. They seem to have strange structure:
    a) “they have know how to teach”
    b) “they are willing to put the effort in to prepare a good class”
    c) “inherit the language from theirs parents”
    d) “because its something they feel”

    Thanks in advance for a reply.

    • 14/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey João, I appreciate the comment and interest. I totally agree with what you said about great teachers and their dedication. We all have a different set of tools, strengths and weaknesses. The game changer is the passion to teach. Also, with respect about knowing the student’s language, I agree 100%. How can a teacher empathize with the students if he doesn’t learn languages, and how can a teacher understand where they are coming from if she can’t explain the problems from the student’s point of view? Awesome points!

      With respect to the excerpts, you have a good eye for mistakes/typos. I’ll hit them point by point.
      a) they have TO know how to teach (mistake)
      b) they are willing to put the effort in to prepare a good class (phrasal verb- PUT the effort IN– you can also say PUT IN the effort)
      c) inherit the language from THEIR parents (typo)
      d) because IT’S something they feel. (typo)

      Thanks again.

      Cheers,
      Justin

  • 14/03/13  
    Roberto Morais diz: 11

    I’m a intermediate level student, and I’m brazilian from BH. In my case, I feel that’s important to have classes (but I don’t) with a native speaker. When grammatical studying becames less nessesary, or the new rules is easier to understand, we have extreme needs of improving vocabulary. Slangs, idioms and sentences that appears in lirics or movies are, generally, explained in a more clear, natural and confident way by a native speaker teacher. Thank you!

    • 14/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Roberto, Very articulate and well-written message. That’s very true and I think you’re right in a big way, but there are some exceptions for exceptionally good Brazilian speakers/teachers, which I think could reproduce most of what you just mentioned (and with a better understanding of the Brazilian mind). It was cool to read your comments. You’re kicking butt with your English too!

      Abraço,
      Justin

    • 19/03/13  
      Thá diz:

      “…When grammatical studying becames less nessesary, or the new rules is easier to understand…” É, tô vendo.

      HAHA, Sorry, but I just couldn’t help myself…

    • 25/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Yeah Thá, but he communicated perfectly, even if there were a few grammar mistakes. When I read his comment, I understood 100%, and to be honest I didn’t really notice his mistakes (I focused on the meaning, which native speakers tend to do more than non-natives).

      His grammar could use some work, yes, but I applaud the fact that he’s using English in his life, making comments on such a big blog, interacting with me. This, in my opinion, is the path to fluency. Grammar is just a support mechanism, and will come quick and easy for someone learning like him.

      Those are my two cents.

  • 14/03/13  
    Neto diz: 12

    I’m a Brazilian english student and I think is better learning with a native speaker, since he or she be a true teacher, not someone who lives here and becomes a teacher because didn’t have another option to live. First of all, to be successful in any work it’s necessary to love what do.

    • 14/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Neto, thanks for the comment. Have you ever studied with a native speaker? I was gonna say that what you just mentioned is kind of rare (native speaker who is originally a teacher by trade). But I think a lot of it depends on the stage of your English process you are in. Have a good one.

      Cheers,
      Justin

  • 15/03/13  
    Elmer (ESL teacher) diz: 13

    Incredible and motivating words. I’m a 24 y.o. ESL teacher, born and raised in Brazil and I had the gift to meet native english speakers at the church, which came from South Carolina.

    In my humble opinion, for beginners it’s way better to learn with ESL teachers, of course. The reason is simples, it’s easier to explain pronunciation and differences between english and portuguese, grammar, writting and so forth.

    But, when our students reach a higher level, intermediate or advanced, they have the need to talk with native speakers, due to the pronunciation and effectiveness in english improvement.

    I attended to only a few english classes in my whole life, never went to an english school or something, I always studied using my video-games and my dictionaries, should may not be taken apart of the learning process, due to the immense variety of english content available in Brazil.

    That’s my thought about the topic, best regards.

    • 18/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Elmer, Thank you for the comment. First of all, congratulations on your English. It’s really good, and you’ve learned through good strategies and an intelligent self-taught method.

      I agree with you for the most part, but I don’t like to talk in absolute terms. I think there are native English speakers (non-Brazilians) who do a great job teaching beginners, but you’re right, Brazilians have the advantage. The same is true for advanced students (there are amazing Brazilian teachers, but native English speakers have the advantage).

      Thanks again for the comment and take care!

      Cheers,
      Justin

  • 15/03/13  
    Lucas diz: 14

    Parabéns pelo artigo, adorei.

    • 15/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Thank you, Lucas! I appreciate the compliment.

  • 15/03/13  
    Marcos feitoza diz: 15

    Dear Friends.
    I’m a student, and I have both of type teachers, I agree with this topic.
    Regards.

    • 15/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Thank you for the comment, Marcos! I appreciate the feedback.

  • 15/03/13  
    Agnaldo Genova diz: 16

    I´ve been studying english for 3 years: 02 years in a Brazilian English school and 01 year in a American English school, in USA. I realized that the biggest difference between native-teachers and non-native-teachers is about the way of teaching, methodology, pronunciation and vocabulary.

    • 15/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Agnaldo, Thanks so much for leaving a comment and for the feedback. That’s cool that you lived in the U.S. Where did you live? Have you had any native speaking teachers in Brazil? Thanks again.

      Justin

  • 15/03/13  
    Adriana diz: 17

    I completely agree with the American teacher when he says that there are advantages and desadvantages of having a native speaker teacher. I’ve had both experiences and I’ve met great Brazilians teachers, who were really gifted and had an excellent level of English proficiency. On the other hand, I’ve had English native teachers, who were, of course, very good at speaking but had poor English grammatical knowledge.
    Congrats for the interesting article, it’s about time someone wrote about it!

    • 18/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hi Adriana, Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate it. I’m glad you liked the article. Take care.

      Justin

  • 15/03/13  
    Gabriel Reis diz: 18

    Hello,

    I am thirteen. I really liked the post. I’ve always wanted to have classes with English native speakers. I’ve tried something in the internet before, but it didn’t really work well. I think it would be great to start learning English with a Brazilian teacher and learn all the grammar stuff. And then when you get to the intermediate level – in which you probably understand most of the language – you start studying with a native speaker, because this way you’d get more into the slang words and the spoken English that’s very different from the English we learn at school or the English in our textbooks. That would be great. I hope you get what I mean. Sorry for my poor English. And thank you for the post.

    Gabriel Reis.

    • 18/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Gabriel, Don’t apologize for your English. It’s really impressive. I was blown away actually. You have some really good insights into learning and teaching too.

      I think you have an excellent plan and you’re right about the general tendency, although remember that nothing is absolute.

      For example, I feel really comfortable teaching beginners even as a non-native. when I first started, this was my weakness, but I’ve made it my strength. Teaching advanced students is fun too.

      Anyways, you’re obviously on your way with your English. Keep up the good work!

      Cheers,
      Justin

  • 16/03/13  
    mario diz: 19

    I really apreciate your contribution, sharing your view in such appropriate topic. It’s been quite interesting to me, who has been a Teacher for 15 years, after living in Canada for 10. I’ve always wondered about it and wouldn’t be able to highlight the pros and cons so cleverly, the way you’ve done.
    way to go buddy. Thank’s a lot.
    Ps I wonder, how do you teach beginners, I mean, do you use a specific method/approach. Could you share with me your view, in such issue, based on your experience here in Brazil? I’d be very thankful.
    I am looking forward to your reply.

    • 18/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Mario, Great to hear from you. I appreciate your nice words. That’s cool that you’ve been teaching. I’m sure after all that time in Canada, you have a wonderful cultural perspective to give to your students.

      For beginners, I try to make it as real as possible, to use culture and fluency exercises. I teach them survival phrases (how to respond and investigate the meaning to words and ask “how do you say?” when they communicate), greetings, goodbyes, etc, and focus a lot on the psychology/attitude of successful language learners, in addition to encouraging them to have as much daily contact as possible (which I call English for Life- light, convenient daily habits).

      For true beginners, I speak a lot of Portuguese (75% of the time) for the first month, but after they understand my methodology and have a fluency in the survival phrases (automatic use of “sorry?- Can you Repeat please?- What does that mean? etc) then I just throw them in water without a life jacket (figuratively speaking) and we quickly move toward speaking 90-95% of the time. We use a book to guide the fluency exercises (for homework mostly) which accompany the in-class application.

      That seems to work well. Here’s a look at an interview I did about Real Life English for Ingles Para Leigos that will tell you more-http://inglesparaleigos.com/2012/09/entrevista-blogueiros-real-life-english-parte-1/

      Thanks for your interest and take care.

      Justin

  • 16/03/13  
    Natalia diz: 20

    Great article! May I translate it to send to my friends?

    • 18/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Natalia, If you want to translate this, please send me an e-mail at murrayjus@gmail.com. Thanks.

      Justin

  • 17/03/13  
    Serena diz: 21

    I thoroughly enjoyed your article, thank you so much. I agree with you on many points and, like you, I have given the topic a lot of thought. Native language teachers have their pros and cons. Having said this, I think it is useful for a native teacher to have studied the language of his/her students, that would make the perfect combo I guess :)

    • 18/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Serena, Awesome insights there! That’s one of the things I would have liked to talked more about. I saw a lot of people commented with the assumption that native English speakers teaching in Brazil don’t speak Portuguese. While I don’t speak it as a native, I do speak it, and I can see English through the eyes of my students (and explain their mistakes that way) and I feel this is immensely beneficial for my teaching, and their learning. I’m sure you’d feel the same thing if you ever taught Americans Portuguese! Thanks for the nice comment!

      Cheers,
      Justin

  • 17/03/13  
    Nancy diz: 22

    It´s excellent ,interesting and honest your explanation about the native and non-native English teachers. Some years ago, I saw an advertisement for native English teacher (he was a diplomat in the USA), because I wanted improving my English conversation. It was a disillution, because he gave me a technical magazine to read, which I didn´t know the majority of the vocabulary and began to ask me questions regarding the text. I do believe the teacher ought have high level, proficiency and full knowlege of how to transmit them to their learners. He could have done a previous interview regarding my English level and expectations about my work.
    Thanks , have a nice time.

    • 18/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Nancy, Thanks for the comment. That’s pretty common what you experienced. And what was the result of that? How long did you study with him? Thanks again for the comment.

      Cheers,
      Justin

  • 18/03/13  
    wagner Cintra Guanaes diz: 23

    Para ser bem objetivo, o professor nativo ou não do idioma a ser ensinado, deve ter uma ferramenta importante que é a didática: habilidade em transmitir conhecimento.

    • 18/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      wagner, concordo 100%! é uma arte, né?

  • 19/03/13  
    Marcelo Baronheid diz: 24

    Hi there, Justin
    First of all, congrats for the well written article… well balanced, not bias at all, and really helpful to teachers and learners alike.
    I was born in Brazil but went to elementary school in the US. My native spoken language is Portuguese but I learned how to read/write English first. So, I guess I’m kind of a half native-speaker. I’ve been teaching English for 22 years.
    Your article inspires an important question: What can people do to minimize the negative side of being native or non-native English teachers in Brazil?
    Natives: Learn Portuguese! I really don’t believe you can reach your full potential as a teacher if you don’t have a clue of what learning a second language is all about. I believe one must understand – not theoretically only – the Language Learning Process to be able to relate to it, therefore, understand exactly what their students’ needs are.
    Non-natives: immerse yourself into the English-speaking culture. Watch the news, movies, reality shows, cartoons, talk shows, and most importantly, sitcoms. Read newspapers, magazines, tabloids (yes!). Participate in forums on the Internet. All of that available on cable TV and on the Internet.
    The timing of your article couldn’t be better… a multitude of online English courses flooding the market and advocating that a native English teacher is the solution for all of your problems. Thank you for shedding some light on the subject.
    Marcelo

    • 21/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Marcelo, EXCELLENT post. I loved your ideas about the solutions. You got my wheels turning for another article! Your comments came at the perfect moment. You should join our community http://www.facebook.com/groups/reallifeenglish/ and if you’re ever in Belo Horizonte, come hang out at our events. We have one this Saturday if you happen to live near by!

  • 21/03/13  
    Flavia diz: 25

    Hi, Justin. First of all, congratulations on your article, it was very well written… I have to say, you pointed out some things I hadn’t notice yet (about both brazilian and native teachers). I’ve been a teacher for two years now, and I gotta say, it fills me with joy to see that we can learn so much with you guys, and vice versa… I guess the real issue of the learning process is the teacher, but also (and the most responsible part) is the student. Students who are not willing to dedicate, investigate and make mistakes will never learn anything.

    I wish you all the best! Thanks for the enlightenment!

    • 25/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Flavia, A great pleasure to see your nice comment and congrats on your phenomenal English. I’m sure you’re a great teacher. Thanks for YOUR enlightenment!

      Sincerely,
      Justin

  • 25/03/13  
    Cezar Ribeiro diz: 26

    That’s an Amazing article which cleared my thoughts on this important question! I totally agree to your arguments! Thanks a lot for this!

    • 25/03/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Cezar, I really appreciate your comment. I enjoyed writing this. Take care.

      Cheers,
      Justin

  • 01/04/13  
    Ingrid diz: 27

    Hi teacher!I enjoy your article, and I agree to you.
    I constantly think that we don’t give the real value for our non-native english teachers.
    But in my opinion the biggest problem is in the quality of our teacher mainly in the private courses that usually aren’t well prepared!On the other hand I believe that we alredy have the previous formed ideia that a person graduated is better than someone that aren’t it.So the solution is in chance the mentality of the Brasilian teacher , they need to study more ,to improve .

    • 08/04/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Ingrid, Excellent insight! I appreciate your comment and the good ideas. Take care!

      Justin

  • 01/04/13  
    Milena diz: 28

    Thanks Justin! That’s a very interesting perspective of how the process of learning a second language works!

    I agree with your ideas! Its so interesting because i was thinking about this the other day and in a similar way to your point of view!

    I’m a non-native speaker, and my boyfriend is a native speaker.. we are both ESL teachers, and since we love teaching, i guess we should help each other sometimes huh? lol..

    Abracos,
    Milena

    • 08/04/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Hey Milena, Great to hear from you. You’re in the perfect position to comment on this topic and I’m sure you could teach me a few things on this. You’re absolutely right about helping each other out. Have you guys been successful in your collaboration and learning?

  • 11/04/13  
    Elaine De Schepper diz: 29

    Hi Justin,
    Congratulation!!! I enjoyed and learn with your article. Thank you!!!!
    Being a teacher is more than just a job. It´s a gift. Being a teacher is a very difficult task, but also very enjoyable. As in all profession, we need many studies, researches for professional development. This is independent if you are native or non-native.
    A good teacher keeps his energy levels up by focusing on why they got into teaching, in the first place. Your brain is engaged in criative ways as you work to solve many daily problems that you never faced before. Do you know why? Because the teachers lifelong learners and appreciate the chance to grow and envolve.
    The advantages of being a native teacher are:
    They have a authentic pronunciation, expressions, and slangs, although this is difficult for the beginners (for me) . And finilly they carry with them a whole cultural knowledge of their country.
    But the most important thing is “SAVOIR-FAIRE” , I mean…Know-how
    Regards

    • 15/04/13  
      Justin Murray diz:

      Elaine, Thank you for your kind words! As evidenced by your amazing written communication, I would not consider your English to be beginner level. You’re clearly a skilled learner! By the way you described it, it sounds like both teaching and learning are creative ways to engage in a language and a culture. Thank again for the nice comment.

      Cheers,
      Justin