Marine Yeung



Native-speakerism has generated much debate in the field of English language teaching, with the general assumption that native English-speaker teachers (NESTs) are better teachers and would be learners’ preference over non-native English-speaker teachers (NNESTs) given the choice. Despite challenges against such an assumption in recent decades, it is argued that NESTs are still prioritized over NNESTs. Studies on learners’ perceptions of NESTs and NNESTs and the factors behind them have produced inconclusive findings, which prompted the present study in post-colonial Hong Kong, where English is a language of privilege. To gain a better understanding of the reality, 253 students from various academic programmes in a tertiary institution in Hong Kong were invited to complete a questionnaire which aimed to elicit their views and preferences concerning teaching by NESTs and local English teachers (LETs, i.e., NNESTs) after being taught by NESTs. Factors affecting their preferences were also explored using open-ended questions and correlation tests. The findings suggest a minor preference for NESTs, but LETs are favoured in terms of effectiveness. Experience with NESTs and learners’ English proficiency may also have notable influences over learner preferences. These findings have practical implications for teacher deployment for English courses or programmes at tertiary institutions. 


Key Words: native English-speaker teacher (NEST), English proficiency, higher education, Hong Kong


DOI: 10.30397/TJTESOL.202110_18(2).0003