Péter Medgyes holds a PhD in applied linguistics and language pedagogy. At present, he is Director of the Centre for English Teacher Training at Eötvös Lor´nd University, Budapest. Previously, he was a teacher trainer at a comprehensive school for fifteen years. He has written several ELT textbooks and articles, which have appeared both in his home country and abroad. Dr Medgyes is the outgoing President of IATEFL Hungary. His current research interest is focused on the native/non-native issue
Among the trends which have recently emerged in ELT, two are challenged in this article. One trend suggests that researchers' attention should be focused on the learner rather than on the teacher. However, the implicit message of this article is that the road to the learner leads through the teacher and that teacher-related research should therefore be increased. The other trend attempts to get rid of the native speaker versus non-native speaker division, offering various alternative terms and concepts to replace it. I argue, however, that a non-native cannot aspire to acquire a native speaker's language competence. I also argue that, in ELT, native-and non-native-speaking teachers reveal considerable differences in their teaching behaviour and that most of the discrepancies are language-related. It does not follow from this, however, that non-native-speaking teachers are by definition less efficient. Indeed, I would contend that a deficient command of English may even have hidden advantages. The explicit message of this article is that natives and non-natives have an equal chance to become successful teachers, but the routes used by the two groups are not the same.