Native vs non-native teachers – What is better?

Born and raised in a wonderful town of South Italy, I developed a strong interest in the foreign languages – particularly in English and French – when I was just seven years old. During my school and academic career, I came across charismatic and outstanding native and non-native teachers who kept me enthusiastic about languages. I was blessed to get confronted with the approach held by native as well as by non-native teachers.


Native vs non-native teachers. What is better?

If, on one hand, native teachers‘ aim was to let us speak the most they could by providing us with “authentic materials¹“ and students were galvanized by the possibility they were offered to be taught by native teachers, on the other hand, the learning process would have not been effective without the great work non-native teachers made in order to develop our listening, comprehension and writing skills.

Native speakers often give for granted lots of concepts and grammar knowledge some non-native teachers would not do, because their thinking system is undoubtedly different from the native teachers’.

I spent the third academic year of my bachelor studies in Berlin, where I joined a DaF course (Deutsch als Fremdsprache, German as a foreign language). The course was held by a mother tongue teacher who showed several culture related issues, but what I can still remind of today, is the moment when she used the German word Kulturbanause².

I needed some time to understand the meaning of that substantive, however I cannot still find a proper equivalence in the Italian language: maybe I would have not learnt that word, if the teacher would have been a non-native one.

I have been teaching German for three years at Italian high schools and last May I started to run DaF online courses to learners and expats coming from all over the world: both experiences are proving to be highly rewarding, because as many of the learners have asserted “it is not so common to enjoy classes and online courses with non-native trainers, since some of them combine knowledge and social skills native teachers sometimes lack of.”

In a nutshell, besides the technical skills required in the virtual classes, there is scientific evidence that empathy and social skills play a key role in the learning process: only motivated teachers would keep a high level of attention and motivation in their students. If teachers manage to build the right emotional channel with their learners, they will have more chances to succeed. Furthermore, all teachers should always keep in their mind the Latin motto ludendo docere according to which they should arrange their classes in a playful manner.

This perspective of teaching represents nowadays a challenge for any trainers and teachers: they are making indeed a big effort in order to transform the virtual classroom into a comfortable and enjoyable place where languages can be learnt.

Well, native or non-native teacher? Is the former actually better than the latter? The decision does not seem to be so hard to meet: native teachers do not have to forget to strike a chord with their students and non-native teachers should take into account to spend some time of their life in the country of the language they would like to teach. Whether you are searching for native or non-native teachers, Eszett can offer you a customised language training matching your needs. It is definitely the right moment to save time and to take advantage of language classes.


¹By authentic materials are meant texts and audio products generally produced for any purpose other than teaching/learning about language. They can include newspapers, daily news, etc.
²Kulturbanause is a person showing no feeling and/or interest in art related topics

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