Nonnative English Speaking Teachers Who Are Foreign Nationals in South Korea and Japan: A Continuing Struggle for Inclusion

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Kilryoung Lee


It is widely considered that native English speaking teachers (NESTs) are more suitable to teach nonnative students than nonnative English speaking teachers (NNESTs). When it comes to NNESTs in an EFL setting, most are local nationals (LNNESTs). However, it should be noted that there is also a group of NNESTs who are foreign nationals (FNNESTs). Compared with LNNESTs, FNNESTs have the additional concept of ‘foreign’, which leads people to think that these teachers may neither show authentic proficiency of English nor understand the native language of the country. Thus, FNNESTs are often considered to be much less suitable to teach nonnative students than LNNESTs. There have been few studies focusing on FNNESTs. In this study, two studies of FNNESTs in Korea and Japan respectively were reviewed and compared. The two countries have almost the same perception about FNNESTs even though there is a slightly different point in the policy toward FNNESTs between the two countries. It was found that NESTs were perceived as the ideal model and FNNESTs were unfairly and/or discriminatively treated in both countries, a situation which could damage their identity as teachers.

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How to Cite
Lee, K. (2022). Nonnative English Speaking Teachers Who Are Foreign Nationals in South Korea and Japan: A Continuing Struggle for Inclusion. LEARN Journal: Language Education and Acquisition Research Network, 15(2), 20–29. Retrieved from
Research Articles
Author Biography

Kilryoung Lee, College of Education, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, South Korea

Professor at the College of Education, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS), Seoul, South Korea. His research interests focus on Teacher Education, Teaching Listening/Speaking, NEST/NNEST.


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