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The ASEAN Journal of Education ASEAN Journal of Education

Emerging Perspectives of the NEST - An Analysis of Self, Peer and Student Perceptions of the NEST in a Thai University Context


Russell Crank,


Abstract

TThere are a growing number of scholars who argue against ‘nativism’ in English language teaching and posit that the demarcation between native and non-native speakers is an artificial and discriminatory construct. Emerging from this debate has been research focused on the NNEST (non-native English speaking teacher), which suggests that a “deficiency” model can actually mask their contribution to language education. This study offers a small contribution in the opposing direction by seeking to explore self, student and professional perceptions of the identity of the NEST (native English speaking teacher). It takes the perspective that language teaching requires multiple competencies, and so a singular or native language “proficiency” model may, in fact, mask other significant aspects of both the NEST’s strengths as educators and areas of professional development. This study utilized a qualitative short-response questionnaire with 80 English teachers and students, in order to draw on multiple perspectives (self, student and NNEST colleague perceptions) within a single institution, to seek insight into beliefs regarding the identifying characteristics, strengths and weaknesses of NESTs. The findings suggest that there were aspects of the participant’s perceptions of NESTs that conform with more widely held “nativist” views, however, the results also indicate an awareness of areas of professional growth, particularly in the area of intercultural communication and ELT (English language teaching). This arguably implies a level of recognition among the respondents that English teaching requires a range of language teaching competencies that exceed a simple native-like language aptitude. Furthermore, the survey responses highlight several such competencies that the respondents value in English teachers. The competencies could be thematically grouped as: pedagogical and professional competencies, interpersonal and relational competencies, and linguistic and communicative competencies.

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Key words: Native English Speaking Teacher, Multi-competent English Teachers, Student and Teacher Perceptions, English Language Teaching
     
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