Much has been recently said and written about the divide between teachers of English (or of any other language) native vs non-native and, clearly, this is a discriminatory divide that has become illegal in job adverts, at least within the EU. And yet, we all know that jobs are more easily given to native users (NEST’s) as opposed to NNEST‘s no matter how competent or well trained they may be. This post came about as a reaction to a recent job advert by one of the two binational centres in Athens and gives me a great opportunity to share a recent blog post shared by one of the team members maintaining a great website on raising bilingual children, Daphne Vlachojannis, parent of three bilingual children (herself a bilingual Greek-American human rights lawyer who will be following our upcoming CELTA).
5 Reasons Why We Should Root for Non-Native Language Teachers
“We need to move beyond the unhelpful and pernicious dichotomy, and conceptually stop separating [language] professionals into different camps. In many cases, this absolute division is artificial, given the global mobility of many ELT [language] professionals, and how some of us live in other countries for long periods of time.” Silvana Richardson
The issue with non-native speaker language teachers (NNSLTs) has always been critical for parents and is crucial to address. It has been coming up a lot lately in conversations and discussions with friends and clients, and the common denominator has not been experience or pedagogical skills, as one might expect, but rather – whether a teacher is a native speaker or not. I shouldn’t be surprised as I have made plenty of unpleasant, even humiliating experiences, myself looking for teaching positions as a non-native speaker of English. But I am still baffled when I hear parents or employers talk about the native speaker aspect as the single most important factor. So, why is that and what does one mean by ‘native speaker’ exactly?
The post was written by Maria Potvin, a pastYL course trainee of note, member of the website team.
Moving to Munich, Germany from Bulgaria in 2000, at the age of 18, Maria completed her Master’s degree in English Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität. She is a CELTA-qualified English language trainer and holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching Multilingual Learners. Maria is fluent in Bulgarian, English and German, and has a basic command of Dutch and Russian. After more than 10 years of gaining wide-ranging experience in an international corporate setting, following her heart and returning to her linguistic “roots” came naturally. She set out to pursue her passion for languages and foreign cultures in order to support families in navigating their multilingual journey.
Maria moved to Amsterdam with her Canadian husband and two children in 2018, where you can find her trying to blend in with the locals riding a bakfiets.
Thank you very much for reposting, Marisa! This is indeed a big issue and I have experienced discrimination many times myself. However, I hope that things are slowly changing and we will see some shifts in the near future!
At least the laws have changed in the EU but not in around the world I’m afraid. 🙁
The online ELT market is unregulated, as well. I hope we can follow the example of the EU and its laws to ban native speakerism driven discrimination both in the physical and the online world.
Yes, I have been a victim of native speakerism despite having 2 Masters degrees, a CELTA, and many years of experience.
I felt cheated for a long time because when pursuing a CELTA no one warns you about the world’s admiration for native speakers or the questioning glances you receive as a non native.