Some language schools only hire teachers who are native speakers of the language. That’s what customers want, that’s what a good language school provides. But is this discrimination? TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) seem to think so. In fact, international TEFL did a survey and found that “there is a significant disparity in pay between similarly qualified non-native speaker teachers and their native speaking counterparts”.
Out of 271 people, 40% of non-native speaking teachers claim to have encountered discrimination because they’re not native speakers. According to the survey, an average native speaker makes 6.46 € more per hour. This sounds like a lot but TEFL says that other things need to be taken into consideration, like experience, qualification etc. The highest pay is given to native speakers with a Master’s degree or higher.
TEFL concludes that this is illegal discrimination and needs to change. Source
Not many people can agree with TEFL on this one. Why would you want to learn a language from anyone but a native speaker? Does this even make any sense? The best person to teach English would be a native English speaker because English comes naturally to that person. I wouldn’t expect a Russian to teach Chinese, not if I could get a Chinese person to teach it. So why is it called discrimination when we prefer a native English speaker to teach English?
Native English speakers have a better command of idiomatic language and slang that you just can’t teach in a natural way if English is not your native language. They almost always have a wider and more expressive vocabulary. They just feel more comfortable with the language and can hence use it in a dynamic and playful way, more-so than a non-native ever could.
Native speaking teachers often demonstrate very different teaching techniques which are better accepted by the students than if a non-native were to use them. In a way, these techniques might even add a cultural aspect to the lessons.
Students generally feel more comfortable speaking in class when their teacher is a native speaker. The fact that the teacher is a native speaker acts as an unconscious trigger for the students. Students also are motivated by the thought that the accent is genuine and hope to pronounce as well as their teacher.
At any rate, I do not believe that hiring the best person for the job is discrimination. I hire native speakers at Speak English Center because I truly believe that the quality is better when the person is a native. Obviously that’s not my only criterion. I also look at experience and education. My teachers are some of the higher paid teachers in the area and I’m very proud of them.