There is a persistent belief in ELT, an ideology if you will – often referred to as native speakerism, that ‘native speakers’ are better teachers. They are better because they have superior knowledge of the language. A wider vocabulary. Better pronunciation. They are more fluent. They are unique sources of cultural knowledge. Their teaching methodology is better.

And this belief has been sold and marketed around the world, leading to a situation where the vast majority of ELT jobs in the private sector around the world are for ‘native speakers’ only. A situation where practically any ‘native speaker’ with or without a 4 week TEFL certificate can travel the world teaching English. A situation where many students prefer ‘native speakers’, because they are constantly told to prefer them.

However, do these arguments about the superiority of ‘native speaker’ teachers hold any water in a world where English has become a global lingua franca? In this talk I will debunk some of these myths about ‘native speakers’, and argue that all teachers, whether ‘native’ or ‘non-native’, should be hired for their pedagogical skills and professionalism, rather than for a language they unwittingly picked up as children. To do so, I will refer to appropriate research and literature, as well as my own experience as an English teacher, teacher trainer and language learner.

I will end the talk by suggesting what each and every one of us involved in ELT can do to tackle native speakerism and to bring back professionalism and equality into our industry.

About the lecturer:   

Marek is originally from Poland and since doing the CELTA and graduating with a BA degree in English Philology, he has taught English in seven countries in Europe and Latin America. He is currently based in Leuven, Belgium, where he teaches academic English at the local university. He also holds Cambridge DELTA and is working towards a PhD in TESOL at the University of York. He has published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at international conferences. His research interests are English as a Lingua Franca and native speakerism in ELT. He advocates equal professional opportunities for ‘non-native’ English speaking teachers through TEFL Equity Advocates, co-authors The TEFL Show podcasts and keeps a now sporadically updated blog about ELT at TEFL Reflections (www. He also gives face-to-face and on-line teacher training sessions about native speakerism and English as a Lingua Franca. He’s also a keen language learner and is currently learning his 7th, Dutch.