A Master of Arts thesis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) by Sarah Al-Shammari entitled, "Investigating Views of 'Nativeness' of English Teachers in a Multilingual, Multicultural Setting," June 2011. Available are both hard and soft copies of the thesis.
The native-/non-native-English-speaking teacher dichotomy has aroused much debate over the years. While many students and parents have assumed that native English speakers (NESs) are naturally the best choice for English language teachers, scholars have been proving that non-native-English-speaking teachers (NNESs) can be as effective, and perhaps more effective than NESs in some situations. For instance, NNESs may be better teachers of grammar since they have had to study it themselves in the course of learning the language, unlike NESs. NESs, on the other hand, are often considered better teachers of pronunciation since English is their mother tongue. This research investigated the views of undergraduate students at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) in the United Arab Emirates, to see if there is a preference for NES or NNES English teachers in this multilingual environment. It also documented the observations of English teachers (NESs and NNESs), using student and teacher surveys and interviews. Fourteen English teachers from the Department of Writing Studies were surveyed, and three of these also volunteered for individual interviews. 146 undergraduate students were surveyed, from three different levels of English writing classes, and three students also volunteered for individual interviews. The research revealed that more students preferred NESs to teach all aspects of the English language (grammar, writing, reading, pronunciation/speaking, listening, and vocabulary) except the social aspects. The teacher responses, however, predicted that the students would prefer to be taught grammar by NNESs and pronunciation/speaking by NESs. The findings also revealed that 38% of the 146 students preferred to be taught by NES English teachers in general, as opposed to 6% in favor of being taught by NNES English teachers, with the majority of students not expressing a preference. The student and teacher interviews suggested that AUS students did not choose their courses based on the nativeness of the teachers, but on the leniency of their grading systems.