Non-Native English Teachers’ Perceptions of Their Professional Identity: A Critical Perspective

Conference: The European Conference on Language Learning (ECLL2020)
Title: Non-Native English Teachers’ Perceptions of Their Professional Identity: A Critical Perspective
Stream: Applied linguistics research
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Jessica Saba, University of Balamand Dubai, United Arab Emirates


Nativeness and non-nativeness in the field of English language teaching (ELT) have been regarded as debatable labels and controversial terms. In many parts of the world, there is a preference for native English-speaking teachers (NESTs) in the field of ELT because they are considered ideal to teach the language that they are born to speak. This theory is denied by several researchers, but non-native English-speaking teachers (NNESTs) still face issues when it comes to their professional identity because they feel less powerful than their NEST colleagues who are preferred and prioritized because they have their monolingual linguistic identity. Pennycook (2004) believes that the idea of a fixed linguistic identity is based on culture, race, and location. This preference for instructors in the field of ELT who have a monolingual linguistic identity has major effects on the professional identity development of NNESTs. The theoretical framework of this research is based on the principles of Critical Applied Linguistics, and the study sought answers to the following questions: what challenges do NNESTs face in the ELT profession considering the dominance of the native speaker ideology in some higher education institutions in Dubai; how do these challenges affect NNESTs’ professional identities; what tools for empowerment need to be provided for NNESTs for better development of their professional identities? Ideology critique was used to explore the perceptions of NNESTs about themselves, their professional identity, and their reflections on society’s views on native speaker dominance in the field of ELT.