IATEFL 2016 Plenary Day 2
This is the reasoning;
- The native speaker is the best model, the ideal teacher.
- I am not the perfect model and not the ideal teacher.
- I am a non-native speaker.
- I can’t be a good English teacher.
Silvana gave us results of some studies and asked to decide what the findings show.
Silvana summarised by saying that students generally value professional and personal qualities over nativeness.
Both NEST and NNEST are perceived to be competence each with unique strengths. Preference is inconclusive. Some indicate both, some one, some the other.
Next, she discussed Discrimination and Recruitment.
A majority of the advertisements favoured NESTs and rejected NNESTs. This could be seen as a severe discrimination.
The presenter also talked about the issues of confidence and self-esteem.
It is about all teachers whose first language is other than English.
Silvana’s session was for me very special as well as significant.
In my view, this discussion is very educational and should be wildly continued.
I have been questioning all kinds of debates around ” who is a better teacher, native speaker or non-native language teacher?”
I have been teaching Polish as well as English for over 40 years.
As a Native Polish speaker, I have been a lot more stressed out teaching English because I always have felt a bit behind new expressions, phrases, vocabulary, and so on
I agree with James Alvis Carpenter’s thinking:
“ What does it mean to be an English, teaching professional? Is it the ability to speak English? Capacity to teach English? The professional credentials attendant to both? Or a combination of tangible and intangible elements—like the ability to speak English coupled with the ability to think creatively and connect with people from different cultures? ”
I believe that generally speaking, it does not matter if you are a native or not – native speaker.
The most important is to be a good creative teacher, with competence to motivate students to learn a language.
Passion for teaching, friendly attitude towards learners, love of the subject, a readiness to alter, a willingness to give, support and reflect are vital education skills.
Above all, it is essential to be a lifetime learner, so to continually look for the best ways of improving teaching methods. We should take courses to master teaching techniques.
Kiczkowiak, M. (2016). Current supporters. Available: http://teflequityadvocates.com/get-involved/support-us/. Last accessed 7th April 2016.
Here is the slide from presentation;
TEACHERS and SUPPORTERS
Silvana encourages to remember about;
- Equal Opportunities policy
–Promote it (Be an EOE- and proud!)
–Use it to challenge customers’ prejudices and to explain your recruitment strategy
- Recruit staff based on their qualifications, experience, the merits of their teaching abilities and their language proficiency
- Create opportunities for collaboration
- Create a working environment that values and promotes equality and diversity
FromLet’s be the majority, not the minority. We shake our heads at the unpleasant (often an understatement!) things our ancestors have done in the name of labels and arbitrary categories, but let’s remember that we also need to shake our heads and stand up against what’s happening now. This is the only way to rid our profession of discrimination and ensure that we have qualified teachers teaching English rather than people who have been hired because their first language is a particular variety of English and (in some cases) because they have white skin.
Non- native English Teacher.
Let’s be the majority, not the minority. We shake our heads at the unpleasant (often an understatement!) things our ancestors have done in the name of labels and arbitrary categories, but let’s remember that we also need to shake our heads and stand up against what’s happening now. This is the only way to rid our profession of discrimination and ensure that we have qualified teachers teaching English rather than people who have been hired because their first language is a particular variety of English and (in some cases) because they have white skin.
Hands up, dear readers, those who of you who think I am a ‘native speaker’ of British English.
Hands up if you think I am from England.
“Where are you from?”
It’s one of the earliest questions we teach learners how to ask. And yet it can be one of the most difficult and complicated to answer.
I was born in Chichester, a little town in the south of England.
I’ve never lived there. I spent the first two years of my life in a little village near Bognor Regis (Felpham, for any Sussex dwellers!). My earliest memories of this part of England, though, come from visits to relatives subsequent to moving to the other end of the world.
From the age of 2 to the age of 17, I lived in Botswana, though I went to a boarding school in South Africa (Mafeking) for secondary school.
My mum is English…
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Thank you for this post.
As a non- native English teacher, I am going to join this meaningful discussion.
By Marek Kiczkowiak
There are perceptions that native speakers of English make better English language teachers. Marek Kiczkowiak, winner of the British Council’s Teaching English blog award, argues that those perceptions need to change.Have you looked for an English teaching job recently? If you’re a Native English Speaker Teacher (NEST) then you’ll have seen an abundance of teaching opportunities out there. But for a non-native English Speaker Teacher (NNEST), it’s a different story.
Up to 70 per cent of all jobs advertised on tefl.com – the biggest job search engine for English teachers – are for NESTs (yes, I have counted). And in some countries such as Korea it’s even worse – almost all recruiters will reject any application that doesn’t say English native speaker on it.
If you start questioning these practices, you are likely to hear one or all of the following excuses:
1. Students prefer NESTs
2. Students need NESTs to learn ‘good’ English
3. Students need NESTs to understand ‘the culture’
4. NESTs are better for public relations
While it is beyond the scope of this short article to fully debunk all the above, I would like to briefly outline here why these arguments are flawed.
1: The first argument gets repeated like a mantra and has become so deeply ingrained that few attempt to question its validity. Yet, I have never seen a single study that would give it even the slightest backing. On the other hand, I have seen many which confirm that students value traits which have nothing to do with ‘nativeness’, such as being respectful, a good communicator, helpful, well prepared, organised, clear-voiced, and hard working. Other studies show that students do not have a clear preference for either group. It seems then that it is the recruiters, not the students, who want native speakers.
2: On the second point, I believe it’s a myth that only NESTs can provide a good language model. What I find troubling is that many in the profession assume language proficiency to be tantamount to being a good teacher, trivialising many other important factors such as experience, qualifications and personality. While proficiency might be a necessity – and schools should ensure that both the prospective native and non–native teachers can provide a clear and intelligible language model – proficiency by itself should not be treated as the deciding factor that makes or breaks a teacher. Successful teaching is so much more! As David Crystal put it in an interview for TEFL Equity Advocates: ‘All sorts of people are fluent, but only a tiny proportion of them are sufficiently aware of the structure of the language that they know how to teach it.’ So if recruiters care about students’ progress, I suggest taking an objective and balanced view when hiring teachers, and rejecting the notion that nativeness is equal to teaching ability.
3: As for the third argument, most people will agree that language and culture are inextricably connected. But does a ‘native English speaker culture’ exist? I dare say it doesn’t. After all, English is an official language in more than 60 sovereign states. English is not owned by the English or the Americans, even if it’s convenient to think so. But as Hugh Dellar notes, even if we look at one country in particular, ‘there is very clearly no such thing as “British culture” in any monolithic sense’. As native speakers, we should have the humility to acknowledge that ‘no native speakers have experience, or understand all aspects of the culture to which they belong’ (David Crystal).
4: Finally, the almighty and ‘untouchable’ market demand. Show me the evidence, I say. Until then, I maintain that a much better marketing strategy is to hire the best teachers, chosen carefully based on qualifications, experience and demonstrable language proficiency, rather than on their mother tongue. We are not slaves of the market. We can influence and shape it. As Henry Ford once said: ‘If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have told me: faster horses’.
Perhaps most significant of all, being a NNEST might actually give you certain advantages as a teacher. For example, you can better anticipate students’ problems, serve as a successful learning model or understand how the learners feel. Actually, in a recent post James Taylor went as far as wishing he were a non–native speaker.
However, I feel that the question Peter Medgyes asks is his article: ‘Native or non–native: who’s worth more?’ misses the point slightly. As Michael Griffin has shown, the answer is neither. Both groups can make equally good or bad teachers. It’s all down to the factors I’ve been talking about here: personal traits, qualifications, experience and demonstrable language proficiency. Your mother tongue, place of birth, sexual orientation, height, gender or skin colour are all equally irrelevant.
So why does this obsession with ‘nativeness’ refuse to go away? Because for years the English language teaching (ELT) industry told students that only NESTs could teach them ‘good’ English, that NESTs were the panacea for all their language ills. But let’s be blunt and have the courage to acknowledge that the industry encouraged a falsehood which many of us chose to turn a blind eye to while others assumed they could do nothing. I feel this needs to change.
The good news is that positive changes are already taking place. TESOL France has issued a public letter condemning the discrimination of NNESTs. Some of the most renowned ELT professionals such as Jeremy Harmer and Scott Thornbury, as well as organisations such as the British Council Teaching English team have already expressed their strong support for the TEFL Equity Advocates campaign I started, which fights for equal professional opportunities for native and non–native teachers.
And you can help bring about the change too in numerous ways that were outlined here. So stand up, speak out and join the movement.
Dita starts by telling us what her talk is NOT about – statistics, definitions, discrimination etc.
Then she tells us about Martina who was incredulous that it was possible to be Czech and teach English in Oxford.
Dita started learning English when she was 6 years old. She did her CELTA in Czech Republic, with British and Polish tutors. It was great for the NNS to have Polish tutors but it was never discussed, which was a real missed opportunity. Would have been good to talk about teachers as role models. She was one of the first NNS teachers in the first school that hired her, as it was new for them to recruit NNS. When she got to Oxford, applying for jobs, a number of schools told her yes your qualifications and experiences are good but we don’t hire NNS but finally she did get a job at a…
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