Language and Speech Laboratory

The Nativeness factor: An analysis of student´s preferences

David Lasagabaster, Juan Manuel Sierra Plo.

ITL International Journal of Applied Linguistics      volume:148:21-43.

A small number of studies have been pubished which examine the native speaker teacher (NST) versus non-native speaker teacher (NNST) debate. However, almost all of them are concerned with teachers’ opinions, whereas this paper considers the question from the point of view of the student, a perspective largely ignored so far. The data for this study were compiled from the completed questionnaires of 76 undergraduate university students who agreed to take part. Special attention was paid to two independent variables: (1) students’ specialisation and (2) whether the student had been taught by an NST. The participants were asked if they preferred a native or non-native teacher/lecturer with regard to the following: language skills, grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, learning strategies, culture and civilization, attitudes and assessment. Within these areas, students were asked about their preferences concerning primary, secondary and tertiary education. The results showed a clear preference for the NST, although the most voted option was that of the team-teaching approach (an NST and an NNST working together). Nevertheless, the independent variables (specialisation and previous learning experience of an NST) did not exert a significant effect. The results seem to suggest the need for further discussion of the issues surrounding the NST/NNST debate.