Native Speaker Syndrome (NSS)

Native Speaker Required

Wayne Duplessis • Let’s call it N.S.S. (Native speaker syndrome); there is no one cause, and no viable cure. Schools that ‘sell the native-speaker’ are offering a product that is easy to sell, the mystique of the exotic, an assumption of proficiency (fluency combined with accuracy) and in some cases the white factor.
School owners are selling a product with a ready market. Selling non-native speakers mean bucking market trends. Which businessperson is going to turn away from a sure thing to chart an unfamiliar course? Any DoS/AC/recruiter that pushes too hard against this will find someone else warming their chair before long.
There’s a certain excitement in having a ‘stranger’ in the classroom. The exotic alien may have insight into learning. They may be a window into another culture. They may just create a stir in the market. Many businesses survive by ‘selling the sizzle instead of the steak’.
There is the thought that someone who has spoken a language their whole life will have a better grasp of grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. The desire to get the ‘real thing’ is strong in many consumer groups. Perhaps some parents believe this will be the advantage their child needs.
The alleged bonus of the white face, the blue eyes and the ‘native’ accent sells quite a few course and entices the customer to cross the street. It also creates unrealistic expectations and has created it’s own unique problems.
NSS is a somewhat flippant attempt to deal with a situation that isn’t going to go away. As teachers and administrators we need to make schools, parents and students aware of the alternatives.


About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
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