Vol. 5. No. 1 R-9 April 2001
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Non-Native Educators in English Language Teaching

George Braine (Ed.). (1999)
Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum
Pp. xxi + 233
ISBN 0-8058-3205-X (paper)
US $24.50

This book is an important book, illuminating the realities of non-native academics and teachers as non-native educators in English Language Teaching (ELT). It is a book written by non-native speakers (NNSs) of English, both established professionals and more recent practitioners, but written for the wider audience of English language teachers. The perspectives presented in this book are often unnoticed by the majority of English language teachers and administrators, but reflect the reality of the dynamic diversity found in ELT.

Non-Native Educators in English Language Teaching is divided into three parts, "Who We Are," "Sociopolitical Concerns," and "Implications for Teacher Education." The editor, George Braine, includes a preface that gives a history and rationale for the book. His introduction outlines the general background of the intertwined problems of the notion of the native speaker (NS) in relation to English language teaching, employment concerns, the NNS professional's search for an identity, and the NNS professional's place in an L1 teaching environment. Also, before each of the three major parts, Braine includes a short summary of each chapter.

The book has a table of contents, a very useful author index, and a complete subject index. The contributor biostatements include pictures of the contributors. I liked the way that the pictures gave me a face to match with the writer of each article. I also liked the way the pictures reminded me that ELT is not the property of native speakers who reside in the Center (defined as the United States, Canada, England, Australia and New Zealand, as opposed to the Periphery--amazingly, everywhere else).

In part 1, the 5 chapters inform us about these professionals. In chapter 1, Jacinta Thomas discusses problems NNSs face. These problems include exclusionary hiring practices of NNS professionals in L1 and L2 environments, invisibility within their organizations, their teaching credibility from the perspective of their students, and how all of these affect them and their colleagues. Her conclusion rightfully calls for recognizing these professionals as equals and truly valuing diversity in the TESOL profession. [-1-]

George Braine reports on his very personal journey as a teacher in chapter 2. He explains that the periphery status is not only in geographic location of teaching, but exists for publishing as well (and therefore academic positions in the periphery countries). He suggests that journals should be started which will gain acceptance in Center countries. In his final section, he muses over the shortage of qualified professionals in periphery countries, lack of NNS internationals on TESOL's Board of Directors and the discrimination NNSs (and sometimes NSs) must endure.

The next three chapters deal with the situations these educators have dealt with as writers and writing teachers. Ulla Conner writes a literacy autobiography of her graduate school experience, from writing term papers with the help of U.S. roommates to the accomplished professional she is today, ". . . still learning to write better and to enjoy it more (p. 36)." In her conclusion, she offers ESL writers sound advice. In chapter 4, Xzio-ming Li writes about her dissertation concerning Chinese writing teachers' and U.S. writing teachers' demands, and how this led to her recognizing that the Chinese demands for nature-related images and the American demands for more specifics were both arbitrary, yet reasonable. She then recounts the dissertation's inclusion in a book and how the book almost destroyed her career. Finally, Claire Kramsch and Wan Shun Eva Lam, in chapter 5, discuss how written texts help non-native speakers learn about their relationship with native speakers and help both of them learn about themselves as human beings.

The first article in part 2, by A. Suresh C. Canagarajah, claims that the Native Speaker fallacy is a result of Noam Chomsky's linguistic analysis of English. He demonstrates how this fallacy has affected the Center and Periphery of the ELT world in negative ways. This article truly hits the crux of the matter--if English teachers are well trained and are excellent teachers, what does it matter where they are from or where they are teaching? In the next chapter, Nuzhat Amin explains that Canadian ESL students believe that the ideal teacher is a male, white native speaker and that this belief has negatively affected minorities and minority teachers in Canada. The final article of this part is by Masaki Oda, who shows that the native speaker fallacy, valuing NSs more than qualified NNSs, even creeps into EFL professional organizations within an EFL situation.

The 5 articles in part 3 revolve around how teacher education is affected by the NS-NNS dichotomy. In chapter 9, Keiko Samimy and Janina Brutt-Griffler report on their study of 17 NNSs and their perceptions about their linguistic and pedagogical competence and the NNS-NS issue. They conclude that existing TESOL programs should examine the NS fallacy, that multidimensionality of experience and professional expertise should be emphasized, and that a course or seminar for specific issues and needs of NNSs should be added in these programs. In chapter 10, Kia Kamhi-Stein says that the whole of the curriculum for TESOL MA programs should be modified to recognize the increase in numbers of NNSs in them. Also, NNS issues should be integrated into the curriculum so that everyone could become aware of them. Jun Liu, in chapter 11, reports on a case study for which seven NNSs are put on a continuum of NS-NNS. Liu found that social context cues play a smaller role in the student's perceptions of their teachers' ability if a continuum is used to describe their teachers rather than an either/or dichotomy. [-2-]

In chapter 12, Peter Medgyes takes the viewpoint that the NS-NNS distinction should by maintained because of NSs' better knowledge of English. However, Medgyes says that NSs, as ambassadors of English, should learn about local culture and educational traditions, and re-examine their own educational beliefs. In the final chapter, Dilin Liu argues that NNS teacher trainees' needs are not being met in the North American, British, and Australian (NABA) teacher training contexts. He argues that L2 acquisition theories and TESOL methodologies are based on data from immigrants and L2 students in NABA countries. He further states that these are not suitable to most of the NNS teacher trainees' situations. He concludes that language improvement and cultural training could be added to refocused acquisition theories and methodologies.

This book should be required reading for all ESL/EFL teachers, graduate students, and administrators. It exposes the spurious advantages that NSs have over NNSs for what they are--falsely held beliefs. In fact, all TESOL teacher education programs should re-examine their content and approach to teacher training in light of the suggestions given in this book. The book's only weakness is that there should have been more than one volume so that more NNS professionals could have added their perspectives.

Jim Bame
Utah State University

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