Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Is it OK to work with a non-native English teacher or tutor? This is a common question for many students!

Today we will explain the pros and cons of both options.

This is a very individual question. There is no “hard and fast” rule.

The best solution for you depends on your goals and your level. Also, what are you planning to do with your English?

Are you going to go abroad or work within your home country?


Why Should You Hire a Native English Teacher?

  • Get challenged: If you are intermediate, upper-intermediate, or advanced and if you want to be inspired or motivated, a native teacher will challenge you and show you five different ways to say one phrase. With a native teacher you can really build a broad vocabulary and this could be great for a higher level student.
  • Learn the culture: If you are planning to use your English abroad or with English speakers in your home country, you can’t just learn sentence structure and grammar. You need to learn culture. But the “culture” that you learn has to go deeper than baseball and small talk. You need to understand the nuances of the American communication style. When do Americans add indirect messages into their sentences? How should you react to that? A native English teacher can explain this clearly for you.
  • Learn real, natural phrases: In your country, your English teacher might not be teaching you “real” phrases that are actually used in the US. For example, Lindsay heard the phrase “see you” being used by English teachers in Japan but this phrase isn’t used by Americans so you shouldn’t learn it. A native teacher wouldn’t teach you “see you.” They would teach you “see ya later” or “take care” or “talk to you soon.”
  • Get the right pronunciation: A native English teacher will be able to recognize and model the correct pronunciation for you. They might not be able to teach it better, but they’ll be able to tell you if you are pronouncing something correctly.


Why Should You Hire a Non-Native English Teacher?

  • Get grammar explained in your own language: If you are a beginner, you might need a speaker of your own language to explain things to you in your own language. It can be really hard to jump right into English.
  • Get culture explained by comparing it to your home country: If you work with a non-native teacher, he or she might be able to explain American culture by comparing it to your home culture. That could be an effective way to learn about it and to succeed when you come to the US.
  • Use learning methods that you are familiar with: What is your cultural learning style? Your tutor will be able to teach you in the way that you are used to learning but be careful with this! Sometimes the way that you have been learning languages in your home culture has not been working so you need someone who teaches in a different style.


Here Is What Any Teacher Should Be:

  • Professional and educated with an advanced degree (certificate or academic degree in TESOL)
  • A serious teacher, not a hobbyist. If you hire someone who teaches or tutors full time, they will give you a higher quality class than someone who just teaches on the weekends to make some extra money.
  • Someone who has lived in an English-speaking country. There are some things that you can’t understand about a language unless you have been immersed in the culture.
  • Someone who has learned another language. This person will understand what you are going through and why you are struggling to learn.
  • Someone who has taught English before. Do they have testimonials and examples of happy students in the past?


Next, should you speak as fast as a native? Find out.


What do you think? Please leave a comment below.

Have you learned with a native or non-native teacher?

What was your experience like?

In your opinion, what are the pros and cons?


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