Learning to teach across borders: Mainland Chinese student English teachers in Hong Kong schools

Phil Benson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The literature on non-native English-speaking teachers (NNESTs) and native English-speaking teachers (NESTs) tends to focus on their respective strengths, the main strengths of NNESTs being their experience of learning English as a second language and their familiarity with their students' language and educational background. This article proposes a further distinction between NNESTs who are local to their teaching settings, and 'non-local NNESTS', who are at risk of falling between the cracks of the NNEST-NEST distinction if they do not share their students' first language and educational background. It also argues that the strengths of NNESTs and NESTs (local or non-local) are not intrinsic to these categories, but instead serve as contexts of discourse in which teachers construct their 'authority' to teach English in particular settings. A case study of two non-local NNESTs in their final year of a pre-service teacher education degree in Hong Kong explores how they struggled to construct authoritative identities as English teachers in the context of discourses that primarily validate the status of NESTs and local NNESTs. It concludes by calling for a more nuanced view of the NNEST-NEST distinction and for further fine-grained studies of the experiences of local and non-local NNESTs elsewhere in the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-499
Number of pages17
JournalLanguage Teaching Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


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