Successful nNESTs: There’s no such thing as impossible!

Irma is an extremely ambitious and conscientious person who has clear objectives in life. University degree, EFL teacher, CELTA, DELTA, summer jobs in the UK, international experience both as a teacher and a teacher trainer. Her career has taken off, no wonder.

Irma was actually working with me in San Sebastian in 2012 when an amazing opportunity came into her way she couldn’t resist. I still remember the day she came with the news and that she was soon off to make her dreams come true. Let me tell you her story.

During the years, Irma has sent her CV and cover letter to hundreds of schools so her profile was in the ‘system’ available not only for the schools but for headhunting agencies, too (therefore she advises everyone to have a good CV and cover letter to send). One of these recruitment agencies contacted her with a job offer – they were looking for DELTA qualified teacher trainers to work for British Council within the scope of a governmental Mentor Project in Malaysia.

Once she replied she had a Skype interview with British Council, which was rather general apart from the questions concerning British Council Behaviours (and about which she needed to read beforehand). It seems qualifications speak for themselves as there were no professional questions and the non-native issue never came up. Later that day she was offered the job and she had only a few days to make her decision. From the moment she accepted the job things speeded up: BC applied for a work permit for her, her flight tickets were sorted out, a hotel room was booked for her and off she went.

She is without a doubt a confident, successful, and greatly honoured professional. She is, incidentally, a 28-year-old woman who is having the time of her life. She could only say good things about working in Malaysia and she warmly recommends it to anyone interested in working there.

But the best part is yet to come! After a year Irma was offered the Senior Teacher Trainer position!!! Although Irma has accepted the position, astonishingly, life had another thing in mind for her – she has been chosen to fill in the position of “academic operations manager.” What an achievement at such a young age and within so little time!

So forget all your concerns about “BC never employs non-natives” or “I can only be a simple teacher as a nNEST,” and go make your dreams come true! Congratulations Irma and thank you for raising our spirits! 

0 thoughts on “Successful nNESTs: There’s no such thing as impossible!”

  1. This is great that there are opportunities for anyone who is qualified and ambitious. And don't forget many of us native speakers are perfectly happy being just teachers, and have no ambitions to be directors or administrators.

  2. Yeah, good for her, but discrimination happens every day to non-native teachers, everywhere….I have been denied positions in MY OWN country. How encouraged are we suppouse to feel, when everytime I looked for a job, the first requirement was NATIVE TEACHERS ONLY?

  3. Thanks for your comment, Robert.
    Yes, it's fantastic and things have indeed been changing for the better.
    That's absolutely true! I'm sure there are also many NNESTs who don't really have ambitions to climb up the ladder and are quite content being a teacher.

  4. Thanks for your comment.
    It does happen often. But this story shows that nothing's impossible – as the title suggests. If you're ambitious, determined and motivated, you will succeed despite the obstacles.
    I've been turned down for jobs many times (abroad and in my country), and have felt humiliated as a result, because I knew it had had nothing to do with my qualifications. But I've never given up, and neither has Irma, I guess. That's why both of us have been fairly successful and have taught English in various countries around the world. I'm saying this, because I really believe that if you persist, you will get your dream job.
    There are also many things we can do about the discrimination, such as writing an article to a newspaper, contacting an anti-discrimination organisation, writing a blog post, etc. As NNESTs we need to speak up for our rights. Nobody else's going to do it. I understand your frustration, because I've been through it myself. My advice is to use the anger and frustration all those native-only ads spark to do something positive. So be angry and act!

  5. Having worked abroad for 4 years now I've had the privilege to meet many non-native teachers and I can only affirm what Marek has just said. We were all turned down many times even though we possessed the experience and qualifications required. Why? One could ask rightly, you are qualified, experienced, have a lot to offer as former (or rather continuous) learner of English, and last but not least, you are ‘cheap’. I loved the simile so let me quote from Marek’s interview with Mr. Peter Medgyes earlier on our blog, “buying a wombat for the Budapest zoo costs more than snaring a fox.” But utter honestly, who would go to a zoo to see a fox if there are no wombats, so to say? The problem is that many language schools use native teachers as a ‘selling point’ and we can’t do much about that, at least until either the ‘customers’ or the natives – ‘used as wombats’ – decide to change their way of thinking. Make no mistake, I’m not against native teachers, the word “teachers” underlined twice. There are so many qualified great native teachers I have met and known and actually learnt a lot from. I believe the key is NOT to prove that one is better than the other (both having great advantages as well as some disadvantages), the KEY is to prove that teachers need not be native speakers of English to be able to teach English, let alone the fact that making such a statement is discriminatory and therefore against EU law. How? Just as Marek has said, spread the word, don’t let such schools disappoint you, be strong and never give up. The place where I’ve been working for 3 years now was the “Okay this is the last one I try because I’m fed up with this native issue.” I was calling literally hundreds of schools for months, sending applications and filling in special forms when finally I got an answer, an interview and right after a job offer. There’s always this ONE for you too, but you have to be patient and persistent. If Irma hadn’t sent hundreds of applications herself she might not be where she is now.

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