Native-English-speaking teachers (NESTs) have long been in demand for perceived benefits of the skills they bring to the classroom. However, the notion that native speakers provide the best models of the target language and thus make the best teachers of the language has been criticised in the literature. This article reports on the disconnection between academic literature on NESTs and the realities they report. Drawing on data from an investigation into NEST schemes globally, the article suggests that lived classroom experiences of NESTs are complex, They are also often bilingual, experienced, and qualified, and regard local English teachers (LETs) they work with as experts and in control of how English is practised in the classroom. These characteristics contrast with much of the academic literature, which explores the concept of native speakerism, which tends to view NESTs negatively. The article proposes that one reason for the disconnection between theory and practice is the parallel lives of researchers and teachers, whether NESTs or LETs. Thus, each group’s realities and concerns are not always understood by the other. The article suggests that a substantial group of bilingual and bicultural NESTs consider the country where work home, so future theorisations of NESTs and native speakerism should take account of these teachers.