There are positives and negatives to both situations that have been presented. I will begin with the positives. A teacher who has learned the English language for teaching purposes may be able to speak the students home language. This will allow the teacher to make real life connections during lessons, translate vocabulary and communicate with the family at home if needed. Hopewell (2011) and Jiménez (1997) show that students benefit from using bilingual reading comprehension strategies, such as using cognates, translating words within context, and discussing English texts in their heritage language.
A teacher who is native to the English language will have a strong understanding of grammar rules, spelling patterns and figures of speech. This teacher will know to create lessons that focus on some of these trickier areas, as well as where a student may begin to get frustrated and what lessons will need more time and attention.
The negatives are the reverse from the positives above. For the teacher who has learned the English language for teaching purposes, having an understanding of tricky grammar rules or spelling patterns may be difficult to teach. Figurative language is also an area that without understanding, the lessons will be difficult to translate.
A teacher who is native to the English language will need to do an abundance of research and preparation for her student to create a bilingual lesson. This teacher will also not be able to communicate with the student in their native language and therefore will not be that sense of comfort for the student. Communicating with the families at home will also have its own challenges and will take more time and preparation for this teacher. “Along with the challenge of leveraging a language that the teacher might not understand, this teacher must also find ways to integrate this language into instruction to promote student achievement”. Pg. 2
I believe that both teachers can show equal progress, depending on the time they take to prepare lessons. If each teacher takes the time to prepare their lessons to strengthen their own knowledge and gather materials to support the lesson, they will both show progress in their students English language.
When looking at the differences between native speaking language teachers and non-native language teachers, there are many pros and cons. Many view native speaking language teachers as more adequate ESL teachers because of their competence in both the language and culture of the target language (Shin, 2008). Some say that native speaking language teachers have better pronunciation and therefore can teach pronunciation in the target language better than a non-native language teacher. On the other hand, non-native language teachers who are native speakers of a student’s L1, might find communication with their students to be easier, especially for beginning ESL students. Though the goal is for ESL teachers to speak English in the classroom as much as possible, it can be frustrating or overwhelming for older or beginner students (Arntsen, 2016). Also, if the non-native speaking language teacher is a native speaker of a student’s L1, this may help the teacher and student form a positive relationship as they can connect over language and cultural identity.
In my opinion, students have the potential to make progress with both teachers. I think that the teacher should be dependent on the student’s proficiency level. For example, if a student is a beginner ESL student, they may be placed in a Dual Language ESL program with a teacher who is a non-native speaker of the student’s target language. This teacher would be able to communicate effectively with their students while still helping them progress in their English proficiency. For students with a higher English language proficiency, they may be placed in an Integrated ESL program. In this program, students may have a native speaking language teacher as they are able to communicate effectively in their target language while still needing language targeted instruction. Not only do ELL students need to be placed in programs that are appropriate for them, teachers do as well. Teachers should be placed in programs where they can support the specific needs of their students the best.