Perceptions of EFL teachers’ didactic competence and target language accent in Greece.

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This study aimed to investigate the way young Greek adults perceive English language instructors’ competencies and the degree to which they value target language accent more than other teacher characteristics. Research into perceptions of EFL teachers is largely based on perceptions of learners in the Middle East and Northern countries. This study aimed to extend this line of research by investigating the current state of affairs in Greece, which is a country of interest due to the high demand for English language learning. Data from Greek participants was gathered online and analyzed using a combination of quantitative methods to discover EFL (English as a Foreign language) learners’ personal goals when they study English and the attitudes they hold towards NESTs (Native English-Speaking Teachers) and NNESTs (Non-Native English Speaking Teachers) in terms of competence and accent. Based on previous literature, it was expected that Greek people would show a preference for native accent. The results show that participants indeed indicated an implicit inclination towards native accent rather than a medium or a strongly accented one, although in some cases a Greek accent in English was identified as more comprehensible and preferred than an American one. Moreover, when explicitly asked to attribute importance to general EFL teacher qualities, respondents prioritized teachers’ instructional and professional traits over a native accent and at the same time demonstrated a predilection towards clear and intelligible rather than native or native-like speech. Participants’ attitude towards EFL instructors’ preferable attributes and their perception of variously accented speech also seemed to be in line with their personal goals and desired outcome of the learning procedure, which is an aspiration to achieve rather personal success and fruitful communication than native-like abilities. All in all, the findings of this study suggest that, despite the opposite belief within the country, native EFL teachers are not considered superior compared to non-native ones from the learners’ viewpoint. In theoretical terms, this study managed to cast light on young Greek adults’ attitudes towards various aspects of the English language learning process and, thus, compensate for the lack of sufficient research in the field as far as the Greek context is concerned. In practical terms, the current findings can be viewed as a trigger for EFL instructors within the country to adapt their teaching practices according to the students’ needs and for language school owners to end biased hiring practices in favor of NESTs, since they are not based on solid grounds.
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