This colloquium, designed for instructors of all linguistic background, assembles various professionals to explore the role of the NNEST in the K-12 system in the ESL and EFL context. Presenters will describe challenges and walk audience members through concrete strategies in a variety of settings.
We will begin with an introduction analyzing NNEST research history and show that the focus of research and publications has been at the tertiary level. Yet, a large number of NNEST operate at the K-12 level. The case of primary and secondary English teachers in Hong Kong will be highlighted to support the need for more research at the K-12 level.
State-of-the-Art Article Moussu, L. & Llurda, E. (2008). Non-native English-speaking English language teachers: History and Research. Language Teaching, 41, 316-348. References: 165
Braine, G. (2010). Nonnative Speaker English Teachers: Research, Pedagogy, and Professional Growth. New York: Routledge.
Arva, V., & Medgyes, P. (2000). Native and non-native teachers in the classroom. System , 28 . 355-372.
Inbar-Lourie, O. (2005). Mind the gap: Self and perceived native speaker identities of ELF teachers. In E. Llurda (Ed.), Non-native language teachers: Perceptions, challenges, and contributions to the profession (pp. 265-282). New York: Springer.
Mc Neill, A. (2005). Non-native speaker teachers and awareness of lexical difficulty in pedagogical texts. In E. Llurda (Ed.) (pp. 107-128): Springer.
Sifakis, N., & Sougari, A.-M. (2005). Pronuciation issues and EIL pedagogy in the periphery: A survey of Greek state school teachers' beliefs. TESOL Quarterly , 39 . 3, 467-488.
Andrews, S. & McNeill, A. (2005). Knowledge about language and the “ g ood language teacher ” . In N. Bartels (Ed.) , Researching applied linguistics in language teacher education (pp. 159-178). New York: Springer.
Butler , Y.G. (2007) . Factors associated with the notion that native speakers are the ideal language teachers: An examination of elementary school teachers in Japan . JALT Journal, 29 , 7-40.
Butler, Y.G. (2007). How are nonnative-English speaking teachers perceived by young learners? TESOL Quarterly, 41, 731-755.
Ellis, E. (2004). The invisible multilingual teacher: The contribution of language background to Australian ESL teachers’ professional knowledge and beliefs. The International Journal of Multilingualism, 1, 90-108.
Hayes, D. (2005). Exploring the lives of non-native speaking English educators in Sri Lanka. Teachers and teaching: Theory and practice, 11, 169-194 .
Kamhi-Stein, L., Aagard, A., Ching, A., Paik, A., & Sasser, L. (2004). Teaching in K-12 programs: Perceptions of native and NNEST practitioners. In L. D. Kamhi-Stein (Ed.), Learning and teaching from experience: Perspectives on Nonnative English-speaking professionals (pp. 81-99). Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press .
Llurda, E. & A. Huguet (2003) Self-awareness in NNS EFL primary and secondary school teachers. Language Awareness , 12, 220-235.
“ The 15 chapters in this volume were written by teachers who were born or reside in the countries they represent, who speak one or more languages of their country of residence, and who are all NNS of English. These authors, their writing styles, and the contents of their chapters are evidence of the diversity and multiple ownership of English.”
The autobiographical narratives reflect the growth of these writers as teacher-scholars, recalling their professional journeys, reflecting on their challenges and successes, and providing insights into their teaching philosophies. These are voices that must be listened to if the TESOL profession is to grow and develop.
Nonnative Speaker English Teachers: Research, Pedagogy, and Professional Growth (2010)
“ Although a considerable amount of research has been conducted on NNS issues, few biographies of individual teachers revealing their socio-economic backgrounds, levels of education and training, and day-to-day association with the English language, have been published. While enriching the research base on NNS English teachers, such narratives would also provide essential data for curriculum design and teacher education.”
Nonnative Speaker English Teachers: Research, Pedagogy, and Professional Growth (2010)
“ Chapter 5 , “An English Teacher from the Outer Circle”, is the biography of an English teacher from Malaysia. To represent the Expanding Circle, a teacher from China was chosen because China is an ELT powerhouse, with an estimated 2 million English teachers and 300 million learners. Probably for the first time, Chapter 6 , “An English Teacher from the Expanding Circle”, provides insights into the life of an English teacher in China.
Chapter 7 , “From Worlds Apart: The Lives of Two English Teachers” highlights the startling differences between the teachers from Malaysia and China.”
In Hong Kong, the Native English Teacher (NET) scheme employs qualified NS English teachers in primary and secondary schools.
In Japan, the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) employs mainly young, unqualified, NS graduates to carry out team teaching with Japanese teachers of English. From 1987 to 2002, around 90% of about 66,000 JET participants were not certificated teachers.
In Korea, the English Program in Korea (EPIK) follows the JET model and recruits English NS to enhance the English speaking abilities of Korean students and teachers.
In Hong Kong, where the government pours millions of dollars into the English language curriculum, the local NNS English teachers are “under siege”. A perennial issue in Hong Kong the past two decades has been the “decline” of English standards among Hong Kong students. As a result of public concern about the low proficiency of language teachers , the government
began recruiting NS English teachers for primary and secondary schools, and
launched a language benchmark test (English Language Proficiency Assessment for Teachers–LPAT) in 2001. English teachers are tested on reading, writing, listening, speaking, and classroom language assessment.
Results of the September 2005 Benchmark Test for English Teachers in Hong Kong 566 (92%) 612 Classroom Language Assessment 483 (39%) 1,244 Speaking 584 (64%) 915 Listening 431 (30%) 1,445 Writing 540 (59%) 912 Reading # and % passing # of candidates
Results of the 2009 Benchmark Test 412 (97%) 424 Classroom Language Assessment 681 (51%) 1,345 Speaking 902 (69.5%) 1,298 Listening 717 (46%) 1,553 Writing 1,043 (80%) 1,299 Reading # and % passing # of candidates
Hong Kong Education Department and the Process Approach
In 1994, the ED published a 42-page booklet titled Teaching Writing as a Process. It states that “most writing for a serious purpose requires a lot of thinking and planning before the task can be undertaken ...”
In Hong Kong schools, “students have to complete a piece of writing without anytime to think about it or to plan and without the chance to draft, obtain advice or revise their draft”. Hence the advocacy of the process approach.
Lee, I. (1998). Writing in the HK secondary classroom: Teachers’ beliefs and practices. HK Journal of Applied Linguistics, 3, 61-76.
Survey conducted among 101 teachers. Follow-up phone interviews with 10 teachers.
A gap exists between teachers’ beliefs and practices. Their focus is on grammar, although they believe textual coherence is essential.
Teachers may not know how to teach writing.
Teachers don’t provide enough help to students on discourse features of writing.
Lee, I. (2008). Student reactions to teacher feedback in two Hong Kong secondary classrooms. JSLW, 17, 144-164.
Teacher A (5 years experience; Band 1) School policy required teachers to mark student writing in detail and respond to every error made by students. Normally brainstormed ideas with students. Single drafts. No self- or peer evaluation. No conferencing. Encouraged students to read aloud their writing at home to parents.
Teacher B (12 years experience; Band 3) School policy required comprehensive marking of errors. Believed that grammar should be given top priority in feedback. Spent major part of writing lessons explaining grammar points. In lessons, a frame was provided, a sample was given, and students were required to copy sentences from the sample because they have “nothing in their minds”.
Hong Kong - The official policy on marking errors
In the English syllabus for secondary teachers in HK (1999, p. 95), the Education Department states that “teachers need not correct all the mistakes in learners’ work” and recommends that teachers “correct mistakes selectively”.
Icy Lee (2003) “ L 2 w r it i n g t e a c her s ’ perspectives, practices and problems regarding error feedback” Assessing Writing, 8
About 70% of teachers marked all errors (comprehensive marking)
Teachers who did “selective marking” marked more than 85% of errors
87% used marking codes
About half the teachers used direct feedback. They thought it was their “job” to locate and correct errors
91% thought error feedback should be selective (but did not practice it) “Many teachers self-contradictory”
Most teachers thought students made some progress
Teachers had problems with time, marking codes, repetition of errors by students, students’ weak proficiency
Teachers were surveyed and interviewed to investigate
How they give error feedback in writing,
Their views and beliefs on error feedback, and
Their problems and concerns regarding error feedback.
206 English teachers in HK were surveyed thru questionnaire (39% had 10+ years experience; 27% between 5 and 10 years; 34% less than 5 year); 10% were English Panel chairs; 55% had a degree in English. 19 teachers were interviewed
Lee, I. (2008). Understanding teachers written feedback practices in Hong Kong secondary classrooms. JSLW , 17, 69-85
Lee analyzed the corrections made by 58 teachers.
57% of teacher corrections were accurate.
3% were inaccurate (accurately located but inaccurately corrected/coded).
40% were unnecessary (e.g. leading to stylistic difference /improvement; changing original meaning; resulting in errors).
Mc Neill, A. (2005). Non-native speaker teachers and awareness of lexical difficulty in pedagogical texts. In E. Llurda (Ed.) (pp. 107-128): Springer, NY.
McNeill (2005) notes that teachers who are more aware of the language difficulties of their students are more effective because they can pay more attention to learners’ actual needs. Conversely, teachers who are less of their students’ difficulties with language may neglect areas where the students need the teachers’ help.
Based on these assumptions, McNeill investigated NS and NNS English teachers in Hong Kong, asking his subjects to identify the sources of difficulty in a reading passage. In addition to the 65 English teachers, 200 Cantonese speaker secondary school students also participated in the study. The teachers were classified as “experts” and “novices”. Experts were experienced, trained graduate teachers and novices were those still attending initial training.
The students were given a 600-word reading passage and tested on their understanding of the vocabulary in the passage. The teachers were requested to make predictions on the difficulties that the students would encounter in the passage. Data analysis showed that the NS teachers failed to predict the words that the students found difficult. In contrast, the NNS teachers were more accurate in their predictions. In fact, both expert and novice NNS teachers’ predictions correlated significantly with the student data. McNeill concludes that teachers who share their students’ L1 “have a distinct advantage in knowing where their students’ language difficulties lie” (p. 116).
Research on K-12 NNS English Teachers. Where do we go from here?
Overall, about 75% of the published studies on NNS English teachers is on their self-perceptions and on the perceptions of their students. But, these studies have inherent shortcomings.
Most of them have been conducted by NNS. Research by NNS on issues that are critical to themselves may cast a shadow of doubt on the validity and reliability of the data. It must be pointed out that most of these researchers had not removed themselves, as they should have, from the data gathering process. Instead, some had designed and distributed the questionnaires, conducted interviews, and analyzed the data by themselves.
A problematic area in the study of students’ perceptions is how students’ define NS and NNS. Anecdotal evidence suggests that, from some students’ viewpoint, all Caucasians (including Finns, Germans, Russians, and Swedes, for instance) are NS of English. Other students, especially Asian-Americans, may not consider American-born Asians to be native speakers of English simply because they are not Caucasian.
Studies of NNS English teachers at their local contexts are needed
NNS English teachers could be surveyed (questionnaires and interviews) for their proficiency levels in English, day-to-day use of English, and awareness of the NS-NNS dichotomy and the strengths of NNS English teachers.
Results could be used to educate these teachers on the need to improve their English and on their inherent strengths as NNS English teachers.