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NATIVE SPEAKER OR NON-NATIVE SPEAKER TEACHER?: A REPORT OF STUDENT PREFERENCES IN FOUR DIFFERENT FOREIGN LANGUAGE CLASSROOMS

Abstract

To date, discussion of the native and nonnative speaker (NS and NNS) teacher issue has been primarily limited to the field of English language teaching (ELT). This study aims to expand the scope of this issue by exploring student attitudes and preferences toward NS/NNS teachers in non-ELT contexts in order to allow more reasonable generalizations.  Adopting a theoretical stance informed by Multicultural Education, the present study employed a mixed-method (questionnaire and interview) to explore student perceptions of NS/NNS teachers in four foreign language (FL) courses (Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, and Italian) at a southwestern American university. Data were analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively based on the categorization of geographically divided language groups (i.e. Asian/ European).  Questionnaire results revealed a stronger student preference for NS teachers in Asian language classrooms than in European counterparts. However, interview results showed that student attitudes are not unequivocal. Interview results surface themes such as students’ conflicting expectations of roles, favorable attitudes toward NS/NNS teacher combination, and the link between language learning goals and NS/NNS preference. Counterintuitive results from Italian language classes (resemblance to those from Asian language classes rather than to those from Spanish classes) brought into question the geographically-based categories used for analysis. It is inferred that two possible influences on this contrastive behavior between students in Spanish and Italian classes are the prominent position of Spanish as the ‘default’ FL in the region and student motivation for learning. Based on the findings, suggestions to language program administrators are provided aimed to address the hiring inequities that result from misconceptions about NNS teachers in FL classrooms.

How to Cite

Meadows, B. & Muramatsu, Y., (2007) “NATIVE SPEAKER OR NON-NATIVE SPEAKER TEACHER?: A REPORT OF STUDENT PREFERENCES IN FOUR DIFFERENT FOREIGN LANGUAGE CLASSROOMS”, Journal of Second Language Acquisition and Teaching 14, p.95-109.

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Authors

Bryan Meadows (University of Arizona)
Yumika Muramatsu (University of Arizona)

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