English as a Lingua Franca

by Kevin R Burns

Can Non-native English teachers, teach English in Japan?

I often am asked by people from non-native English speaking countries if they can teach English in Japan.
I think the short answer is yes. But they may need to be able to show that they have studied enough to be able to do that. ie) have a Masters in TESOL from a recognized institution

There are non-native English teachers, who marry Japanese, and therefore solve the visa problem of staying in Japan long-term. Or they have a student visa but do a bit of English teaching as a part-time job.

One Japanese teacher of English in Japan says:

" I don't think there is much difference between English lessons offered by native speakers, Japanese teachers, and people from Philippine. Probably more skills are required to attract students b/c students prefer native speakers of the target language or their mother tongue... "

One of my former colleagues, a Filippina studied in Manila and got a Bachelor of Science degree. Then studied in Japan and got a Masters of TESOL degree. She now teaches at a very good university in Japan.

So it is definitely possible for non-native teachers to teach English here. I see many examples of people doing exactly that at the English teaching conferences I go to in Tokyo and Kanagawa.

And then there is this:

Re: Non-native speakers teaching English in Japan, a friend and colleague of mine, feels that native English teachers` days may be numbered and the future may belong to non-native teachers of English. He says:

"ELF (English as a Lingua Franca) is a growing field. We (native speakers) may soon be out of work, as we shift from an EFL perspective to an ELF perspective."

Here is Silke Maianen:

English as a Lingua Franca:
Teachers' Discourses on Accent and Identity
MA Thesis
Department of English
University of Helsinki
October 2008
Silke Majanen


The English language has become a global matter. Its uses have expanded to cover
virtually anything from the language of international relations to the language of
science; from the language of international business to the language of tourism and
popular culture. The presence of English can be felt in all existing media. Thus,
today, English represents an unparalleled lingua franca, with its “enormous
functional flexibility” (House 2002: 243). An essential reason for this expansion has
been the role of nonnative speakers of English and their ready acceptance of the
language. In fact, the overall majority of English speakers worldwide are nonnative
speakers who often use the language in influential networks, and the proportion of
those speakers is growing rapidly.

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Oct 22, 2015
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