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Are native English-speaking teachers more qualified? A Critical Review of Blum and Johnson’s (2012) Article ‘Reading Repression: Textualizing the Linguistic Marginalization of Nonnative English-Speaking Teachers in Arizona’

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With the profound and widespread influence of English in this globalised and interdependent world, scholars are paying more attention to the quality of English education; this quality intricately relates to the abilities and qualifications of English teachers. Therefore, a debate on how to treat native English-speaking teachers (NESTs) and non-native English-speaking teachers (NNESTs) is becoming increasingly prevalent both in the academic field and public discourse. Blum and Johnson’s (2012) article is based on a phenomenon in Arizona, where the policymakers marginalised public school teachers who have accents. The authors mainly analyse the comments made in response to a Wall Street Journal article, and in fact, they strive to highlight the cultural and professional rights of NNESTs. In this critical review, I will firstly illustrate the socio-political and sociolinguistic background and a debate between NEST and NNEST in language teaching and learning, before summarising and evaluating Blum and Johnson’s (2012) findings by relevant literature, as well as from a personal perspective. Considering the heated discussion about the importance of foreign accent in second language successful learning (Cook, 1999), issues about accent will be considered in this review. Specifically, issues such as the correlation between NNESTs and teachers who have strong accents, the impacts of teachers’ accents on students’ language acquisition, teacher evaluation as well as discrimination toward NNESTs will be discussed.



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Cambridge Open-Review Educational Research e-Journal

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Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

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Publisher's own licence