What’s The Draw Of Native Speaker ESL Teachers?

Why do schools want them?
Partly in order to expose students to totally natural language. Whether this language is in fact totally natural or not, especially after some time living abroad, is debateable, but this is generally one of the draws. Also, the fact that they do not speak the local language as a local teacher would means that students are more or less forced to communicate in English with them. Realizing that they can successfully communicate with native speakers may also give the students added confidence.

Are native speakers the best teachers?
Not necessarily. It seems quite obvious that it’s a person’s training and performance that make him or her a good teacher – much more that the fact of their native language.

Are native speakers better teachers than locals with degrees in teaching?
Given the answer above, generally I would say no. People – regardless of their native language – can definitely become good teachers, but again, native language is pretty much irrelevant to teaching ability. In fact it is often easier to teach something you have learned formally (as non-native speakers do) than it is to teach something you haven’t learned formally (as native speakers do).

One advantage that many schools see in native speakers though is that they may offer the possibility to move away from the traditional methodology which involves a teacher-centered, heavy grammar focus with lots of correction. Native speakers who have a standard four-week TEFL certificate like the CELTA often don’t have to overcome or ignore years and years of training in these traditional methods as many local teachers do.