Advocating in favor of equal opportunities for native and non-native-English-speaking teachers

20 02 2015

I’m a non-native English-speaking teacher (NNEST) who has been teaching EFL for 28 years. I have never experienced discrimination as a teacher, and the institution I work for does not discriminate against NNESTs. Quite the contrary –  we select NNESTs over NESTs  when the former have teaching experience and academic qualifications and the latter don’t.

However, there are a few English programs in the city that advertise that they only have native-speaking teachers, as if this were an advantage in itself. This contributes to the misleading social construct that a native speaker is always a better teacher.

Due to my participation in the NNEST-of-the-month-blog and the Casa Thomas Jefferson’s fair recruiting practices, I was invited by Marek Kiczkowiak to give an interview for the TEFL equity advocates blog,

I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed speaking about the issues brought up by my interviewer.

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4 responses

23 02 2015
Derrick

I’m a NEST and I can testify that this in itself does not make me a teacher of English. I’ve had to work hard to learn teaching methodologies and pedagogy in addition to improving my English. Yes, I spent my entire life in the United States and I still had to improve my English. I consider myself very smart and I had always gotten high marks in school. This is not enough. A teacher has to understand how a student learns a language. A teacher also needs to understand how their students view and perceive the English language for the first time, and NNESTs know this first-hand because they have been through that before. That is an experience I will NEVER have. There is this notion in the learner community that the best English schools have NESTs as teachers, and while this is an understandable conception, it is terribly misleading. In fact, if a student is serious about learning, then they should inquire into how serious their teachers are about professional development and standards of achievement. Knowing what I know, I would take a non-native with qualifications over an unqualified native any day.

23 02 2015
isabelavb

Dear Derrick, this is a wonderful testimony of what it takes to become an English teacher. We all had to work hard beyond just knowing English, and you explained what this hard work entails very clearly. Thank you for your insightful comment!

24 02 2015
Eneida Coaracy

Dear Isabela,
Thanks for the thought-provoking interview. I believe clients who still hold on to the misleading conception that one learns a language faster and better if he/she chooses to have a NEST will start reconsidering their points of view after listening toyour words.
Eneida Coaracy

24 02 2015
isabelavb

Thanks, Eneida. It’s too bad these clients don’t have access to these discussions and that some schools use this misleading idea as a marketing strategy.

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