I haven’t published anything on this blog for quite a while now for two main reasons. Firstly – as you can notice, I’ve moved the blog from blogger and been working on cleaning up the posts and pages. Secondly (and more importantly) – I’ve been working on another project which I’d like to tell you a bit more about with the hope that you might want to get involved and support it.
About TEFL Equity Advocates
TEFL Equity Advocates blog (you can access it here) was set up to speak out against the widespread discrimination of non-Native English Speaker Teachers (NNESTs) in the TEFL/TESOL industry. I hope that both NNESTs and NESTs (Native English Speaker Teachers) will get involved as I think it is crucial that we all support each other and stop thinking in binary terms. We’re in it together.
As a non-native speaker, I have faced discrimination myself on several occasions. I was fortunate that at the time I did not give up. I felt angry and frustrated, but I knew that I did not want the same to happen to other NNESTs. And I hated the thought of letting the recruiters get away with it. I’m just very stubborn by nature, I guess. I was also very fortunate that I met many like-minded teachers, NESTs and NNESTs alike, who supported me.
Luke Meddings: “I’m delighted to support Marek’s campaign, which addresses an issue close to my heart. I like the way in which the ‘hard’ aims of this campaign – such as targeting discriminatory job ads – are reinforced by ‘soft’ ones: sensitisation, dialogue and empowerment. I actually believe it’s realising these aims that will lead to change.“
I decided then that we needed a place where we could openly speak out against the prejudice and campaign for equity of all teachers. I wanted other NNESTs to feel that there is hope. That there are numerous people and organisations who support them. I wanted to encourage NESTs to get involved too and to support their NNEST colleagues, because together, we can make TEFL/TESL industry more equal for all teachers, regardless of their nationality.
Why is the campaign important?
Jeremy Harmer: “I wholeheartedly support the aims of this blog – the ending of discrimination against more than 96% of the teachers of English in the world. Or maybe 98%…..or more…”
- Up to 70% of all job ads around the world advertised on-line on tefl.com, the biggest search engine for TEFL job seekers, are for NESTs only. This means that as a NNEST, regardless of your experience or qualifications, your application will be rejected on the spot. And it means that if you’re a NEST, you’ve been given an unfair advantage which you were not even aware of.
- Having your CV turned down as a NNEST, despite being more experienced or highly qualified than a NEST, can be quite humiliating. I’ve met many NNESTs who after years of trying, have simply given up and lost all their self-confidence. They started to believe they actually were inferior and unfit for the job. We can’t let this happen!
- Discrimination of NNESTs has been a skeleton in the TEFL’s cupboard for decades. Schools have sold courses by marketing NESTs as the only way to learn a language, marginalising and relegating NNESTs to the status of bush-league teachers. And although things have been changing for the better, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. I’d like the industry to acknowledge the problem and take steps to eradicate it, as organisations such as TESOL France or CATESOL have (see Anti-discrimination statements).
- For years students have been told that only NESTs can teach them ‘correct’ English. But let’s have the courage to acknowledge the fact that we’ve been lying to them all along. Both NESTs and NNESTs can be equally good teachers, and our students can benefit from being taught by the two groups.
- After all, we all care about our students, don’t we? We all want them to learn, improve, and have a great time in class, don’t we? Yet, we allow the industry to discriminate some of our colleagues, who could make fantastic teachers. We let recruiters choose teachers based on their nationality rather than teaching skills. Let’s stop being so permissive! Let’s act!
- Many NNESTs do not realise that there are numerous colleagues who strongly support their cause. They do not know who they can ask for help. And so they often accept their inferior status in the industry. I feel this needs to change. NNESTs should know that we support their rights, and that they’re not alone.
- Many NESTs would also like to work in an environment that promotes equity of all teachers. I have many NESTs friends who have already expressed great support for this campaign, and even written posts for the blog. So I hope that we can all campaign here together for a slightly more equal world which will benefit us all.
- Finally, inaction is the worst form of action. On any given day numerous colleagues of ours are discriminated, their CVs end up in bins without being even glanced at. We have a moral responsibility to speak out for their rights and to defend them.
TEFL Equity Advocates goals
Peter Medgyes: “Blogmasters are a dangerous lot, provoking innocent people to open up on the web. Marek is a welcome exception. He faithfully relays your opinion even if he should disagree and delivers what he promises. I feel honoured to be a supporter of his blog.”
Here are some of the things TEFL Equity Advocates blog hopes to achieve:
- Acknowledge and expose the discrimination of NNESTs in TEFL.
- Sensitise the public to the problem.
- Debunk the most common and damaging myths and stereotypes about NNESTs.
- Reduce the number of job ads only for NESTs.
- Give self-confidence to NNESTs.
- Encourage NESTs to join the campaign and actively support their colleagues.
- Provide support and advice in cases of discrimination.
- Give NNESTs the knowledge and the tools to fight for their rights.
- Diminish the divide between the two groups by encouraging cooperation and dialogue.
- Gain support of teaching associations for the campaign and encourage them to publicly denounce discrimination.
- Work together with recruiters to ensure both NESTs and NNESTs have equal opportunities of employment.
There are many different ways in which each and every one of us can get involved in advocating equal employment rights for all teachers. Whether you’re a NNEST, NEST, recruiter, teaching association or a student you can do your little bit to help bring about the change and encourage equal treatment of all teachers, regardless of their nationality. Some of them are:
- Write an article for us.
- Share the blog with your friends.
- Let us add you to the list of official friends and supporters.
- Support your NNEST colleagues.
- Join one of the FB groups.
- Talk to your employer about equal rights for NESTs and NNESTs.
- Join people like Peter Medgyes, Jeremy Harmer, Divya Madhavan and Luke Meddings who have already written statement of support for TEFL Equity Advocates blog.
- Give a workshop on equality or propose it as a topic.
- As a teaching association, follow in the footsteps of TESOL France and CATESOL and take a stand against discrimination of NNESTs by issuing a public statement.
- As an employer, choose your staff based on their qualifications, experience and language proficiency, giving equal opportunities to NESTs and NNESTs.
- Openly speak out against this prejudice.
- Be proactive. Stop turning a blind eye. “Indignez – vous”, teachers!
I’d like to leave you with a few words from Divya Madhavan, and I hope you join the campaign and help us make TEFL/TESOL a slightly fairer world. You can access the blog here, and its FB page here. See you there!
Divya Madhavan: “I’m deeply impressed with this campaign because it doesn’t simply make bold statements or pass passionate judgement- it actually provides an intelligent and culturally-sensitive roadmap towards making changes that will have ripples in policy and practice alike. This is the stuff of an authentic critical lens on how we tick in this industry. Critical, in all it’s elegance and complexity. I feel very proud to know Marek and to support this campaign.“