A call to action – Luke Meddings, Hugh Dellar and Scott Thornbury on the NEST vs nNEST debate

meddingsLuke Meddings is an award-winning author, trainer and international speaker. In 2000 he co-founded the Dogme ELT movement with Scott Thornbury, and their book Teaching Unplugged (Delta, 2009) won a British Council ELTon award in 2010. Since then Luke has trained extensively, and in 2011 set up independent e-publishing collective The Round with Lindsay Clandfield. Their own book, 52: a year of subversive activity for the ELT classroom, was published in 2012. (from: http://lukemeddings.com/learning/)

In November, together with Robert McCaul, we gave a talk at TESOL France conference arguing for a more inclusive approach to ELT hiring policies, which would place more emphasis on qualifications and experience, giving both NESTs and nNESTs equal opportunities. You can read Rob’s summary of our talk here.

The talk received quite a positive response from the audience, and while preparing for it, we managed to get some encouraging support from Luke Meddings, Hugh Dellar and Scott Thronbury, who all contributed a short video. In this post I’d like to share these videos with you as they go to show an important and – in my opinion – a reassuring fact: those who know most about teaching English are the least likely to defend or excuse native speaker favouristism in the current ELT hiring policies (visit the Talk to the Expert section for articles and interviews with renown ELT professionals).

Hugh_DellarHugh Dellar is an author, teacher and teacher trainer. He co-authored the Outcomes and Innovations series, and together with Andrew Walkley has recently set up The Lexical Lab. He’s conducted numerous talks and workshops at EFL conferences all around the world. For more information click here. 

For a long time the fact that over 70% of all ELT job ads are for NESTs only has been an accepted status quo, so it is very encouraging to see that many renown ELT professionals are now willing to speak out against it and to advocate giving nNESTs equal employment opportunities. If the recruitement policies in our industry are to change, we will need a combined involvement and effort from all of us: nNESTs, NESTs, recruiters and teaching associations (read more about how you can get involved here and in this article by James Taylor).

thornburyScott Thornbury (born 1950, New Zealand) is an internationally recognized academic and teacher trainer in the field of English Language Teaching (ELT). Along with Luke Meddings, Thornbury is credited with developing the Dogme language teaching approach. Thornbury has written over a dozen books on ELT methodology. Two of these, ‘Natural Grammar’ and ‘Teaching Unplugged’, have won the British Council’s “ELTon” Award for Innovation, the top award in the industry (in 2004 and 2010, respectively). Thornbury is also the series editor for the Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers, and the author of many academic papers on language teaching (from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Thornbury).

So, if you agree with Luke, Hugh and Scott, I would like to encourage you to challenge the current ELT recruitment policies by recording a similar short video and sharing it on social networks, challenging three friends involved with ELT to do the same. If possible, tag TEFL Equity Advocates, and with your permission, the video will also be also shared on the FB page and added to this website.

Let’s speak out for a TEFL industry which will – as Hugh put it – ‘judge teachers on how well they teach, and not where they were born’.

0 thoughts on “A call to action – Luke Meddings, Hugh Dellar and Scott Thornbury on the NEST vs nNEST debate”

    1. Hi Geoff,
      Share it on FB or Twitter (either after having first uploaded to youtube or by directly uploading it to FB). Then tag three ELT friends and challenge them to do the same. Please use the hashtag #teflequity on Twitter and on FB tag TEFL Equity Advocates.
      Let me know if this helps.

  1. Totally agree. I would like to add that NESTs should welcome this because we want to be recognized for our experience and qualifications as well, not for our accident of birth.

    1. Couldn’t agree more. We’ve all studied hard to become teachers and I think it’s time hiring policies reflected this. It’s also important that NESTs don’t see the nNEST movement as a threat or a personal attack on them. It’s about giving both groups equal opportunities and judging teachers based on how well they teach, rather than on where they were born.

      1. Yes, I’m an in-service teacher trainer (an ICELT main tutor in Mexico City). We have mainly nNESTs on our courses but also a few NESTs. I emphasize just that: equality of opportunity, that both types of trainees are capable of being excellent teachers.

  2. Thank you for this campaign. In fact, I can’t thank you enough for raising such a serious issue. Most nNESTs feel that they are at a disadvantage because of this kind of polarization…

  3. Thank you for this campaign. In fact, I can’t thank you enough for raising such a serious issue. Most nNESTs feel that they are at a disadvantage because of this kind of polarization…

  4. Well… since the title of the post has the word “debate” in it, I expected more of a two-way discussion about NEST vs nNEST (again, as the title suggests!). I think to make it a true debate, we should hear at least one opinion from the other side, say, a recruiter justifying the policy of hiring only NEST because that’s what their students expect or some such. In the meantime, it’s only the voices of three renowned ELT experts and methodologists, who are, ironically, native speakers themselves, and not students, parents, recruiters, policy makers who might think otherwise.

    Having said that, I enjoyed today’s webinar with James Taylor and will be following this blog more closely.

    Best of luck!

    1. Hi Leo,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Perhaps the title is a bit misleading although wasn’t meant to be. With these three videos I wanted to show what some ELT experts think about the issue. It wasn’t intended as a debate. I agree that there are people who might disagree with their views, however, another reason for the post was to give NNEST encouragement by showing that many renown ELT professionals support them.
      I do agree, however, that it’s important to hear from the clients and recruiters who might disagree that NNESTs should be treated equally and try to hear what they concerns and reasons for their believes are. I’m planning to address this in the future on the website.
      Glad you enjoyed the webinar. It was great. Nice turnout considering it was just the first one.

  5. I agree with the statements in these videos. In addition to Scott’s comments about living in a post-modern era, I think the case could have been made for emergent language as better provoked/facilitated by NNESs.

  6. Pingback: #ELT chat summary on whether, or rather how leading ELT organisations should support non-Native English Speaking Teachers’ rights | teflequityadvocates

  7. Pingback: A call to action - Luke Meddings, Hugh Dellar a...

  8. LOL “you don’t choose a history teacher just because they are really really old”… Nope. I think the analogy backfires on Luke. Age nothing to do with history. I’d choose a history teacher who has done enough reading to help me understand the issues, contemporary and ancient. In other words, the teacher would have to be what corresponds to being proficient in history.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.