Investigating NEST schemes

This joint project between Aston University and University of Warwick is sponsored by the British Council as part of its English Language Teaching Research partnership Scheme.

Project Summary

Despite a strong focus in recent years on the value of NNESTs (non-native English speaking teachers) and the essential contribution they make to language learning, many governments still seek out and employ NESTs (native English speaking teachers) to participate in learning and teaching in state schools, colleges and universities throughout the world. The hiring of NESTs may be through national schemes such as NET in Hong Kong, or through NGOs such as VSO.  While previous research has examined practices on individual programmes, to date there is no global overview of how they operate and the experiences of both NESTs and NNESTs taking part. What is more, there is a lack of widely available resources to support those considering or preparing for such schemes.

This project will bring together an international team of partners to investigate NEST schemes around the world. Detailed information will be collected through document analysis, interviews with NESTs and NNESTs and classroom observations. This information will be used to prepare an audit document which will give details about the schemes, and which will be of value to both policymakers and teachers. Importantly, classroom and interview data will be used in the preparation of training resources to support both teachers and teacher trainers. A final preliminary report will also be produced.

This project aims to answer the following questions:

  1. Which countries currently use NESTs in state education?
  2. How do these schemes operate and how much training and support do participants have?
  3. What are the affordances and challenges of employing NESTs from the perspectives of the different stakeholders?
  4. What happens in NEST classes and what are the typical roles played by NNESTs and NESTs?
  5. What can be learnt from the experiences of NNESTs and NESTs to improve classroom teaching?
  6. What can be learnt about the experience of NNESTs and NESTs to improve training and support?

The research will investigate government programmes, such as:

  • JET Program (Japan Exchange and Teaching Program) in Japan
  • EPIK (English Program in Korea) in South Korea
  • NET Scheme (Native-speaking English Teacher Scheme) in Hong Kong (China),
  • FETRP (Foreign English Teachers Recruitment Program) in Taiwan. 

It will also investigate schemes which are operated through NGOs on a more ‘ad-hoc’ basis. For example, volunteer organisations such as VSO and CUSO (Canadian University Services Overseas) have recruited NESTS to teach English, or support English language teaching, in a range of contexts. Likewise, in Vietnam NESTs are recruited from similar organisations by Vietnamese universities or colleges to work collaboratively with local Vietnamese English teachers.   The project will aim to list countries which operate ad-hoc systems and the specific NGOs through which recruitment and training takes place.

Research Team 

Dr Fiona Copland, (PI), Aston University (

Dr Sue Garton, Aston University (

Dr Steve Mann, University of Warwick (