The historically unassailable position of the native speaker (NS) as language teacher has been challenged in mainstream scholarship about foreign language education. The non-native speaking (NNS) teacher is now recognized to possess a number of important attributes that their NS counterpart often lacks. Also, in the case of English, the number of non-native speakers of the language far outnumber native speakers. This fact alone casts doubt on the value of preparing learners to interact by default with NS interlocutors. Nonetheless, present research into the role of the NS and NNS teacher suggests an ongoing preference for the NS as language teacher, particularly as a representative of the target culture as well as in conversation practice. Indeed, the (often untrained) NS teacher remains a staple of English education in East Asia. The research presented here adds to the scholarly conversation regarding the relative value of NS and NNS teachers. In this presentation, I will discuss how my own multi-year ethnographic fieldwork examining ground-level practices of English education in Japan and Taiwan indicates that the untrained NS teacher may be even less valuable than is commonly assumed. Specifically, lacking appropriate training in linguistics, language acquisition theory, educational psychology, and critical pedagogy, these individuals often subscribe to folk-beliefs associated with foreign language education. Their perceived authority as NS lends credence to such beliefs, strongly reinscribing misconceptions about the nature of culture, language, and language learning. Since the untrained NS is so common in East Asia, this project has critical implications for this context.
Dr Brown gave this presentation at The Asian Conference on Education (ACE2017) in Kobe, Japan.
Charles Allen Brown
Dr Charles Allen Brown is currently an associate professor in the Research Faculty of International Media, Communication, and Tourism Studies at Hokkaido University, Japan. Born in Delaware, Ohio, USA, Dr Brown was educated at the Ohio State University, USA, and graduated with a BA in Anthropology and a BS in English Education. Dr Brown then taught English to refugees in the United States for two years and served for three years as a participant in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan prior to earning an MA in Applied Linguistics/TEFL/TESL at Pennsylvania State University. Afterward, Dr Brown served for five years as a lecturer at National Chiayi University, Taiwan. Dr Brown subsequently earned a PhD in Educational Policy and Leadership from the Ohio State University. His research concerns lived experiences with and beliefs about the institution of English education among students and teachers in East Asia.