Learner Native-Speakerism at the Eikaiwa Gakkou

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Martin A. Cater, J. F. Oberlin University

This paper presents the results of an investigation into 32 Japanese learners’ perceptions of native and nonnative English-speaking teachers conducted at a central Tokyo branch of a large eikaiwa gakkou (conversation school) chain. Findings indicate that participants may hold some discriminatory beliefs aligning with Holliday’s (2006) concept of native-speakerism, an ideology upholding the view that native English-speaking teachers are superior instructors due to their speakerhood and knowledge of Western culture and teaching methodologies. Results show that native English-speaking teachers were more often regarded as better at teaching pronunciation, speaking, listening, reading, writing, and grammar than nonnative English-speaking teachers. The study also found that approximately half of the respondents believed qualifications gained in countries where English is a first language are preferable to those acquired elsewhere. Results are mixed on whether respondents recognised the potential of nonnative teachers to be better positioned to understand why learners make mistakes.