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How to deal with prejudice against non-native speaker teachers

  • 1.  How to deal with prejudice against non-native speaker teachers

    Posted 10-10-2018 14:14
    I work at an IEP in the USA, although the large majority of our students come from the same country and share the same culture and L1. I just saw an email from one of my colleagues to the director of our institute, explaining that students have complained to him about our NNEST's accents and that they make fun of one particular teacher behind that person's back. He compares NNESTs to young American teachers and suggests they are better because they can teach American culture, the implication being that NNESTs are inferior or somehow inadequate. He suggests we should be hiring more of the 'Americans', who will be more popular with students. I am astounded at the tone of the email, which suggests he agrees with the students assessment of these particular NNESTs and that he believes we should pander to the students' prejudices.

    I was actually shown the email for another issue, and the subject of NNESTs was not brought up at all by my director. I have no idea how to respond to this issue, but I'm really upset by it. Could anyone recommend some easy to use resources I could make available to other colleagues, particularly for those who may not be familiar with the subject of cultural imperialism and equity? Also, how would you address this with students? I already see this as a problem at large amongst our student population and have experienced some uncomfortable moments when students of minority groups have been made fun of in class.

    Thanks for your help.

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    Rosanna Bird
    ESL Teacher
    USA
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  • 2.  RE: How to deal with prejudice against non-native speaker teachers

    Posted 11-10-2018 03:42
    Hello Rosana,

    I like this plenary by Silvana Richardson talking about the "native speaker"
    https://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2016/session/plenary-silvana-richardson

    She is an excellent speaker, and I find the talk very engaging. I hope this is helpful.

    Regards,

    Nausica

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    Nausica Marcos
    Denison University, US
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  • 3.  RE: How to deal with prejudice against non-native speaker teachers

    Posted 11-10-2018 08:49
    Edited by Jannette Hermina 11-10-2018 08:49
    Wait, who is making fun of the Non native speaker teachers? Are the ESL students making fun of them?! That is where I will start if that is the case. Ironic! In addition,  I do  not know if you are aware, but accent discrimination is real, and it can land in a court. The people affected can take legal action. If I was your boss, I would be very careful handling that situation.
    https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/language-accent-discrimination-workplace-33464.html

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    Jannette
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  • 4.  RE: How to deal with prejudice against non-native speaker teachers

    Posted 11-10-2018 05:37
    Dear Rosanna
    I think it would be better to first change teachers' attitudes and then they will raise students' awareness of the imperialism and multiculturalism.
    Maybe you could recommend them to read this article "Myths and Misconceptions About Nonnative English Speakers in the TESOL (NNEST) Movement" and ask them to write reflections on it and have them discuss it along with issues of inequality, imperialism, culture. Negotiating these issues with teachers could change their attitude dramatically.
    they may follow the same procedure with their students


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    Nahid Fallah
    Iran
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  • 5.  RE: How to deal with prejudice against non-native speaker teachers

    Posted 11-10-2018 10:53
    TESOL has an official Policy Statement about this issue that you can use to support your position in discussions.

    It's entitled "Position Statement Against Discrimination of Nonnative Speakers of English in the Field of TESOL" and was published in 2006.  You can find it HERE.

    To quote: "The distinction between native and nonnative speakers of English presents an oversimplified, either/or classification system that does not actually describe the range of possibilities in a world where English has become a global language....TESOL strongly opposes discrimination against nonnative English speakers in the field of English language teaching. Rather, English language proficiency, teaching experience, and professionalism should be assessed along on a continuum of professional preparation...Teaching skills, teaching experience, and professional preparation should be given as much weight as language proficiency."

    Hope this helps!

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    Joanne Clyde
    Bilingual Director
    Community Consolidated School District 146
    Tinley Park IL
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