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Teaching Effectiveness of Native and Non-Native EFL Teachers as Perceived by Preparatory Year Students in Saudi Context

This study aims at investigating the perceptions of Saudi preparatory year programme (PYP) students, who are taught by native English teacher (NETs) as well as non-native English teachers (NNETs), towards teaching effectiveness of NETs and NNETs in
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    6201January16:12940-ISSN 1930 www.languageinindia.com Language in India Dr. Choudhary Zahid JavidTeaching Effectiveness of Native and Non-Native EFL Teachers as Perceived by Preparatory Year Students in Saudi Context 98 ===================================================================Vol. 16:1 January 20162940 -ISSN 1930 www.languageinindia.com Language in India =================================================================== Teaching Effectiveness of Native and Non-Native EFL Teachers as Perceived by Preparatory Year Students in Saudi Context Dr. Choudhary Zahid Javid   ================================================================ Abstract This study aims at investigating the perceptions of Saudi preparatory year programme (PYP) students, who are taught by native English teacher (NETs) as well as non-native English teachers (NNETs), towards teaching effectiveness of NETs and NNETs in the intensive English language PYP at Taif University. The study investigated 132 Saudi PYP students through a self-developed 2-point questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were run for data analyses. It has been found out that the participants of this study have exhibited positive attitudes towards their NETs and NNETs. Though the results have shown an overall preference for NETs but it seems that the respondents also believe that NNETs effectively contribute by virtue of their own experiences as English language learners and their experience as teachers. It may be concluded that Saudi EFL learners represented by the participants of this survey believe that NETs are more successful in creating richer classroom environment, teaching/assessing speaking skills, listening skills, vocabulary and reading skills better. The findings reveal that NNETs use innovative strategies and explain lessons more clearly to make their students learn better. By virtue of their personal experiences as language learners themselves, they have been perceived to u nderstand their students’ questions and language difficulties in a better manner that facilitate learning process. Therefore, it may be concluded that each group has been perceived to have their own particular strengths which give one an advantage over the other, these differences do not make one better than the other. Key Words:  Native, Non-native, effectiveness, Preparatory Year Programme    6201January16:12940-ISSN 1930 www.languageinindia.com Language in India Dr. Choudhary Zahid JavidTeaching Effectiveness of Native and Non-Native EFL Teachers as Perceived by Preparatory Year Students in Saudi Context 99 Introduction English has acquired international proliferation and recognition due to the advent of modern technology, faster means of communication and advent of international economy (Liu & Zhang, 2007). This phenomenon has initiated an era of un-precedential English language teaching in all the countries including the Arab countries where it is used as a foreign language (Javid, 2015 ). With this increased scope of ELT, “native  speakerism has been an issue of debate from the moment English began to be taught internationally” ( Alseweed & Daif-Ullah, 2012, p. 36). This increased demand of English teachers commenced an academic discussion in favour or against NETs and NNETs reported in a growing mass of research (Widdowson, 1994; Matsuda and Matsuda, 2001; Al-Issa, 2002; Zughoul, 2003; Bulter, 2007; Wu & Ke 2009; Daif-Allah, 2010; Alseweed & Daif-Ullah, 2012). The scope and width of this research aspect may be evident from the fact that around 1500 papers have been reported which discussed the effectiveness of English teachers with reference to their countries of srcin (Laborda, 2006). Saudi Arabia Preparatory Year Programme (PYP) Several large-scale steps have been taken to cater to the needs of Saudi students and introduction of Preparatory Year Programme (PYP henceafter) in all Public universities in the KSA is one major step that attracted English language teachers from all over the world including the countries which are included in the inner circle, outer circle and expanding circles (Al-Segheyer, 2012; Javid, 2014a). It has been reported that the Saudi Ministry of Higher Education introduced PYP as compulsory for high school graduates who intend to join colleges with a  purpose “to foster a smooth transition from the Arabic language education environment in the secondary schools to an English medium one in the university setting through developing the English langu age skills of PYP students prior to starting a college program” (Alseweed & Daif  -Ullah, 2012, p. 37). Dichotomy of Native Versus Non-Native Speakers Al-Issa (2005) has posited that with an increased scope of teaching in the foreign language context, the issue of native versus non-native has raised many eyebrows though many felt that it is politically appropriate to discuss this sensitive issue openly. This dichotomy of    6201January16:12940-ISSN 1930 www.languageinindia.com Language in India Dr. Choudhary Zahid JavidTeaching Effectiveness of Native and Non-Native EFL Teachers as Perceived by Preparatory Year Students in Saudi Context 100 discussing native versus non-native speakers has met criticism from several people as well (Davies, 2003; Edge, 1988; Kachru & Nelson, 1996). Canagarajah (1999) has stated that 80% of English language teacher worldwide are non-native speakers of English indicating that it is not  possible to insist on having native English teachers to cater for the growing needs of ELT in the modern world. If native speakers naturally have an advantage to teach their mother tongue, non-native speakers, being learners of a foreign language themselves, have a strong claim to exploit their own rich foreign language learning experiences in teaching English as a foreign language to their students. Research has offered significant insights into the fact that there does not exist any definite definition of the term and “ nativeness itself appears to be complicated both psycholinguistically and socioculturally” ( Butler, 2007, p. 4). At the level of considering an individual as native, the factors like the age of a person when he/she was first exposed to a language, his/her linguistic competence, his/her identity along with various other factors may be relevant, but it is rather controversial to determine a clear cut boundary between native and non-native varieties of English language (Butler, 2007; Cook, 1999; Davies, 2003). An overview of relevant literature strongly suggests that comparative merits and demerits of NETs and NNETs have been intensively discussed in ELT research (Butler, 2007; Arva & Medgyes, 2000; Brutt-Griffler & Samimy, 2001; Canagarajah, 1999; Davies, 2003; Kamhi-Stein, 2004; Llurda, 2005; Alseweed, 2012; Alseweed & Daif-Ullah, 2012; Javid, 2014b). Though a huge mass of research is available related to this topic, the studies that attempted to investigate the perceptions of English language learners are comparatively scarce (Ling & Braine, 2007 and Wu & Ke, 2009). Learners’ Perception   A growing mass of research has reported that identification of learners’ perceptions regarding important pedagogical aspects are instrumental in achieving much sought-after goal of effective English language teaching/learning process (Al-asmari & Javid, 2012). The present    6201January16:12940-ISSN 1930 www.languageinindia.com Language in India Dr. Choudhary Zahid JavidTeaching Effectiveness of Native and Non-Native EFL Teachers as Perceived by Preparatory Year Students in Saudi Context 101 study is an attempt to investigate Saudi PYP learners related to the merits and demerits of native and non-native EFL teachers. Literature Review  Research has offered valuable insights into the fact that an unprecedented increase in the use of English language by so many people has initiated an era of wide spread English language teaching worldwide as more than one billion people are involved in this growing education industry (Crystal, 2003; javid,2010). The use of English language may be divided into “the expanding circle” including countries like China, Caribean Countries, Eygpt, Indonesia, Isreal, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South America, Taiwan, Zimbabwe, “the outer circle” c omprising Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Zambia, and “the inner circle” consisting of USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand (Brown, 2013). It has been reported that though the issue of ‘native’ and non - native’ English language teachers has not been a major concern for common people, it is a topic of heated discussion among English teachers of either affiliation (Jin, 2005). Research suggests that the term ‘native’ is related to locality and birth and is positively linked with English language teaching whereas ‘non -native is considered embarrassing and inferior as compared to their teaching counterparts; i.e., native teachers (Suárez, 2000). Liu (2008) has stated that “ the use of the terms “native” and “non - native” is admittedly a very contentious matter, especially in the sociolinguistics of English and its pedagogical dimensions ” (p. 103) . Much research has attempted to define this knotty term such as Chomsky (1965) has defined a native as a person who is qualified to judge grammatical correctness and Strevens (1982) has declared that a native speaker is one who has acquired English during infancy and childhood. A comparatively comprehensive definition has been articulated by Mora (2006) who has stated ‘native speaker’ is   “ A person who learnt the language in childhood, as a dominant language and continued using it in adulthood on a regular basis and has reached a    6201January16:12940-ISSN 1930 www.languageinindia.com Language in India Dr. Choudhary Zahid JavidTeaching Effectiveness of Native and Non-Native EFL Teachers as Perceived by Preparatory Year Students in Saudi Context 102 certain level of proficiency…it is a construct with social politica l, personal and geographical implications denoting a perceived advanced level of language expertise” (p . 18). A growing mass of research seems to suggest that there is a need to reconsider the casual use of this term (Kachru & Nelson, 1996; Liu, 2008). In this regard Lee (2005, p. 8) has suggested six defining characteristics of a native speaker which are: "the individual acquired the language in early childhood and maintains the use of the language, the individual has intuitive knowledge of the language, the individual is able to produce fluent, spontaneous discourse, the individual is communicatively competent and able to communicate within different social settings, the individual identifies with or is identified by a language community, and the individual does not have a foreign accent." The status and effectiveness of NNETs has come under discussion since the time English has been taught globally. Cook (1999) has revealed that a dominant majority of English language learners study English in foreign language context and majority of teachers who teach them are  NNETs. Significant research conducted by Medgyes (1992, 1994) has laid the foundation in this regard as he emphasized on the perceptions of English language teachers as well as English language learners regarding the effectiveness of NETs and NNETs. Brown (2013) has elaborated that it was the groundbreaking studies of researchers like Medgyes (1994) and Braine (1999) that set the stage and “it took almost ten years for new discussions to emerge from establishments such as the Non-native English Speakers' Caucus in the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) organization in 2003 in favor of the Non- native English Speaker Teachers (NNEST)” (p. 4). A growing mass of research has been reported that discussed EFL teachers’ effectiveness and Laborda (2006) has enumerated around 1500 studies in this regard. Gulf countries have not  been an exception in this regard and numerous studies have been conducted in the Middle East to
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