Native and non-native speaking teachers of Italian: an exploration of differences in students' and teachers' perceptions

Rebekah Pina Sturniolo-Baker

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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In recent years there has been much discussion, and even debate, among scholars regarding the advantages and disadvantages of being taught by a native or a non-native speaking language teacher. The notion that native speakers are the best language teachers has a long-established history in the field of language teaching, and is known as the native speaker fallacy. It has even had an effect on hiring practices in many language institutions around the world, with native speaking teachers often being given preference over non-native speaking teachers. This in turn has led to a response from non-native teachers who have sought to show that they can be equally good teachers on their own terms.
This study explores the different perceptions that students of Italian at university level in Australia have towards their teachers who are native speakers of Italian, and those who are non-native speakers. It also examines the perceptions that these native and non-native teachers have of themselves. Online questionnaires were administered to both students and teachers, and then one-on-one interviews were carried out. Through these methods both quantitative and qualitative data have been gathered and analysed.
What is clear from this study is that students do perceive differences in being taught various aspects of the language by a certain type of teacher; and that ultimately not only do they acknowledge these differences between their native and non-native teachers, but they appreciate the opportunity to be taught by both. Teachers are also aware of their strengths, and of the challenges they face in connection with their linguistic background, and they also appreciate that students can benefit from being taught by both native and non-native speaking language teachers.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2015


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