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Hannah Niebaum
FLNG 8020
Dr. Gascoigne
Summer 2013
Let’s Stick Together: Questioning the Effectiveness of Native/Non-Native Co-Teaching
The age-old debate for foreign language teaching still rages on regarding native and nonnative speakers teaching a language. While it’s true, each instructor has strengths and
weaknesses regarding foreign language teaching, these can be detrimental to the language
learning experience for the student. However, in more recent developments, the use of coteaching has been on the rise in popularity for foreign language teaching. Each teacher in theory
can efficiently use their strengths in order to effectively teach their students. In this study, coteaching is examined through opinion and hard data taken from English as a Foreign Language
students abroad. First, the literature will be reviewed regarding native/non-native instructors with
reference to bilingual and co-teaching set-ups. Then, the format of the research study will be
introduced, including all of the limitations and assumptions regarding it. Overall results from the
information gathered will shed light on the student’s perceptions of co-teaching along with the
retainment percentages of each type of instruction.
Literature Review
Past articles and literature on the subject of co-teaching ranges vastly between areas of
concentration in the institution of education. Most of the information out there refers co-teaching
to American education, regarding special education, ESL, and bilingual programs. Many
anecdotal and empirical research has been done throughout these areas, discovering in general
the overall positive impact co-teaching has in classrooms.
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The specific research of native vs. non-native speaking instructors is also vast, which
adds extra information for co-teaching since there is one of each teacher in the dynamic duo.
Most literature on the debate of which instructor is better in the foreign language education
system varies, but most recently it has come to a general consensus that each teacher has his/her
own strengths when teaching a foreign language. The non-native speaker is better at the
fundamentals, like grammar, while staying empathetic, seeing as these teachers also have gone
through the process of L2 acquisition. The native speaker is better at pronunciation, vocabulary,
and cultural information, but generally tend to teach the more advanced language speakers.
These general perceptions were found in the study conducted by Dr. Tammy Hertel and Dr.
Gretchen Sunderman in the article Student Attitudes Toward Native and Non-Native Language
Instructors (2009).
Teachers of course always have a different point of view than the students, and it is no
different with the co-teaching method. Teachers interviewed in Vance Austin’s Teachers’ Beliefs
About Co-Teaching showed some general conclusions regarding co-teaching in various fields,
like general education and Special Education. These teachers all generally thought that the
general education instructor (in my case the non-native instructor) was believed to conduct more
teaching than the other instructor (the native speaker for my study). Even in the United States,
this perception runs horizontal among the groups divided in the education institution. Even if this
is not true, most think of the second teacher (whose role is more specific in nature) to be more of
a ‘helper’, not a collaborator (Pappamihiel, 2012).
What seems to be unanswered or a current problem regarding co-teaching is the absence
of the actual stakeholders involved: the co-teachers. Boards of Education across the country try
to implicate these methods of teaching, while the actual instructors are found scrambling and
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picking up the pieces of the poorly planned transitions. Constant communication with all players
involved, such as administrators, students, parents, para-professionals, etc. are all an integral part
of the co-teaching process (Dove, 2012).
The general overview of co-teaching (listing non-specific modes of instructors) was the
closest I could come to finding information on co-teaching abroad English as a Second
Language. Much last the proceeding article discussed the factors involved in co-teaching,
including the importance of collaboration and involvement from all parties. Well in the article by
Marilyn Friend titled Co-Teaching: A Simple Solution That Isn’t Simple After All, discusses some
deciding, and sometimes negative, factors regarding co-teaching and emphasizes the complexity
that co-teaching can become. Having extra time outside of the classroom to co-plan, maintain a
positive learning environment, designating responsibilities, and administrative support can be
challenging factors for co-teaching.
So overall, the literature on co-teaching focuses mainly on American education system,
but the factors and considerations for co-teaching in this country can definitely be applied to
working overseas. Most modern day education systems are fairly similar and abroad there may
be the same issues co-teachers face in the United States. Debunking common myths and facing
facts, this literature helped round out and predict a conclusion for this ‘unfinished’ research
study. Of course, there will be significant differences abroad, but general teaching methods and
ideals are assumed to be common abroad as well. I would like to know the real outcome of this
research project so I can compare abroad opinion with homeland prerogatives!
Current Study
The current study will contain one class of students, roughly the average size (ranging
from 15-30 students approximately). These students are all roughly the same proficiency level,
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with prior teaching and experience with learning English as a foreign language. It will be a cogendered class and of course, be learning the target language in their native country/ancestral
home. Examples like this could include Korea, Argentina, France, etc. – anywhere English is not
the dominant language. Dependent variables range from educator ability, the use of the same two
teachers in the study, or the amount of time each section is taught by each combination of
Questions for the research study are: How effective is foreign language co-teaching
abroad? What perceptions do students have regarding native, non-native, and co-teacher taught
classrooms? Research regarding co-teaching abroad was almost little to none, but the amount of
research regarding English language learning in the United States led to the conclusion that coteaching is a collaborative process with a great deal of strategy and teacher application involved.
This leads to the belief that co-teaching will be very effective for the foreign language students,
resulting in higher tests scores and better oral communication in the target language.
Student perception of co-teaching with English as a second language as the subject was
dampening, but other areas of co-teaching student perception, such as special education and ELL
in the United States shows an overall positive outcome towards the co-teaching aspect.
Hypothesizing the similarities between these student groups, I am concluding that students will
find the co-teaching to be more helpful and rewarding for them. This will also be shown through
the analysis of their grades, comparing the single teaching by each instructor to the last choice of
the final co-teaching method.
Participants for this study are all middle school students ranging from the ages 13 to 15
years old. They are non- native speakers of English, but with previous language instruction in
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English. These students also are enrolled in their mandatory allotted time of English as a Foreign
Language course. Ideally, one class would be used over the course of the study so that accurate
results can be acquired to support the questions asked. The participants are co gendered,
hopefully balancing out at an even number. For later and/or more of a data pool, multiple middle
school classes across a district would be included in the study, if resources and cooperation is
A pre/post questionnaire will be provided at the start of the study and at the conclusion of
the study to gather a general perception of students’ opinions on their preferred instructor method
of teaching; native only, non-native only, or native/non-native co-teaching method. A series of
six questions and a comments section at the end will be on the survey, the first three asking
which instructor had the most effective teaching on a scale of one to ten (Native Speaker/NonNative Speaker/Both) and the following three asking in general the student’s preferred
instructor/combination on a scale of one to ten, one being the worst and ten being the best
(NS/NNS/BO). The conclusion of the survey will have a comments section just as a catch all for
students wish to clarify answers or have general comments about an instructor.
Also accompanying the survey will be an overall retainment data analysis, quantifying
quizzes/test scores and observation from the students on their general learning from each
instructor/method. Over the course of three separate sections, differing in English material, the
varying educator methods will be divided, beginning with the non-native speaking teacher,
followed by the native speaker instructor, than concluded with the two co-teaching the material
together. Throughout each section, there will be weekly quizzes, unit tests, and general
observation by the instructor(s) at the amount of material successfully retained by the instructing
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method. At the end of the study, this data will be analyzed and charted as to effectively compare
the most efficient possible way for this type of age group to learn the English language!
Influential Factors
Although this study seems to be well set-up, when working with the human element and
certain circumstances, there are always limitations, assumptions, and influential factors made or
known about the study group to take into consideration. As factors to consider for the study,
there should be an awareness of the time of year the material is being taught like for example, if
there is a national holiday, political event affecting the country, problems at home/social circle
for the student, and these outside influential factors could change the students’ attitudes and
motivation for learning in the classroom setting. Assumptions regarding the study are that the
two instructors are competent educators, preferably at the same ‘level’ of teaching, if there is
such a value to be placed on educators. There are no transferred in/out students from the class,
thus skewing the data. The class will be held in the same classroom at the same time every class
period for the subject so students have a uniformity of some kind.
Limitations for this study are numerous just because of the nature of the study. This ideal
study is set up so that these instructors do have the permission and cooperation from the school,
parents, students, and other staff to follow through with the study. Most instructors do not have
such freedom to do so, but in an ideal world or maybe in the near future, this study can be
possible so as to gain this useful information in developing co-teaching curriculum and methods.
A large limitation for this study also could include that the pair of instructors did not previously
know each other or did not pick to be paired together. If the personalities of these teachers
conflict, it will affect the co-teaching segment of this study, which is possibly the most important
part of this study. Another limitation to this study is the possibility of the material’s difficulty
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differing between the instructor(s) section. Following the content’s flow, one instructor’s section
might be more difficult to teach, be harder to retain by the students, or differ in length than the
other sections taught by the other instructor(s). This would change the results drastically and
skew the data for the study if student’s base their experiences on the material being taught alone.
Teaching material that better corresponds to the instructor(s) strengths seems like common sense,
but the overall goal of this study is to find, in general, what instructing method best teaches this
age group of students in English. The goal is to not find what instructing method best fits which
material regarding the English language.
Projected Results
The projected results are all speculation, based on corresponding literature, studies, and
educated guess, regarding the study. For the pre/post general study questionnaire, I predict the
students will enjoy learning from the co-teaching method. These reasons could range from
familiarity with the instructors previously, so they are already comfortable learning with these
instructors or because the students feel that they have more help or resource from both
instructors at the same time, feeling like their learning environment is being enhanced. There
may be some favoritism towards one or the other instructor based solely on the student’s
personal preference, not because of the material learned, but with any questionnaire there should
be these considerations.
Data analysis from test scores and quizzes might also prove favoritism towards coteaching based alone on the extra resource and knowledge from both teachers’ presences.
However, if the class’s general knowledge is low of the English language, there is a chance of
the non-native instructor’s results being higher, given under the assumption that the instructor is
teaching in the native language, not the target language of English. However, a consideration to
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be made that would contradict this theory is that teaching English abroad with native speaking
teachers tends to be more of a relaxed and positive learning environments, using games and
hands on activities to learn as opposed to traditional teaching methods. These fun inducing
activities may cause for better retainment because of the positive experience rather than sole
So overall, comparing student preferences and mainly empirical data, the conclusion I
can assume is that the students will prefer and benefit from the co-teaching method. With their
general education teacher (non-native speaker) paired with the visiting English teacher (native
speaker) benefit from the strengths of the NS/NNS instruction. These instructors have also
created a safe and comforting educational environment for the students by previously teaching
them for those two separated sections of material. Random factors like preconceived notions of
NS vs. NNS held by the students could also create the possible results for this current study.
In conclusion, this research project pursued the question “Is co-teaching abroad a foreign
language affective?” This question arose other questions, such as ‘Which age groups is coteaching ideal for?’ and “Can/Does class duration affect the co-teaching method?’ All signs point
to yes, from previous research studies, journal articles, and general educated guesses after
developing an academic educational background. Although in theory, co-teaching is extremely
ideal there are numerous influential factors that are involved when co-teaching, as seen in the
literature review. Collaboration and communication are key to creating a successful co-teaching
However, to prove these general theories regarding co-teaching, I have developed a
current study that involves a questionnaire and empirical data section. In the pre/post
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questionnaire, students’ perceptions on the various ways a foreign language is taught
(NS/NNS/BO) will be identified from the participants group. Then the analysis of quiz/test
scores and observations from the instructor will track retainment by the students. After the study
is concluded, all the data will be analyzed, the instructor(s) with the best identified data will be
shown as the most effective way of teaching.
Projected results all point to co-teaching, as there are great positive claims regarding the
method. Co-teaching is more common amongst English as a second language and Special
Education in the United States, but abroad is works similar to the English as a second language
does here, except that specifically for an allotted time, teaching is devoted to let students learn
English, not just having an ESL instructor aid in general education. Unfortunately, there are a
plethora of limitations and assumptions this study holds, but its intentions are ideal and pure.
All in all, co-teaching seems to require great effort from the instructors, but in the end
with the proper planning and communication, it can be one of the most effective methods of
teaching. It is already somewhat implemented in language acquisition not just in ESL, but in
bilingual programs across the globe. The gradual removal of the non-native speaking instructor
and the gradual introduction of the native speaking instructor, with most of the overlap occurring
in the middle, I believe is to be the most effective way of learning a second language or one’s
heritage language effectively. Some parts in Canada have programs similar to this, teaching
French/English by incorporating them into the general education material. Certain subjects are
taught in certain languages and it all seems highly successful. Maybe in the future, if these kinds
of programs are adopted by more of the global population, more languages would be spoken!
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Austin, Vance L. "Teachers' Beliefs About Co-Teaching." Remedial and Special Education 22.4
(2001): 245-55. JSTOR. Web.
Dove, Maria G. "Chapter 4: Grassroots Approach to Co-teaching for English Language
Learners." Breaking the Mold of School Instruction And Organization: Innovative and
Successful Practices for the Twenty-first Century. 25-31 p. Web.
Friend, Marilyn. "Co-Teaching: A Simple Solution That Isn't Simple After All." Journal of
Curriculum and Instruction 2.2 (2008): 9-19. JSTOR. Web.
Hertel, Tammy Jandrey, and Gretchen Sunderman. "Student Attitudes Toward Native and NonNative Language Instructors." Foreign Language Annals 42.3 (2009): 468-82. JSTOR,
Pappamihiel, N. Eleni. "Benefits and Challenges of Co-teaching English Learners in One
Elementary School in Transition." The Tapestry Journal 4.1 (2012): 1-13. Web.
Wallace, Michael J. Action Research for Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998.

Projected -