Buy a megaphone: Non-discriminatory language is not enough by Karin Krummenacher

Do you believe in primal scream therapy? I am not going to lie to you: It had not been a great day before I set foot into the weirdly medievally furnished meeting room that would be the backdrop of scenes that made me want to scream. Feeling like King Arthur, waiting for the other parties to arrive I had no idea I was only half an hour away from considering buying a pillow just so I could scream into it to release my frustration.

Spoiler: I did not buy that pillow. I postponed my tantrum to the privacy of my own home, as decent postmodern humans do. And now I write about it on the internet. As postmodern humans do.

Back to the meeting room. The interviewers have arrived. Now listen to this:

Roberta: You come highly recommended by the person who used to teach this course. Do you have any experience teaching English to non-native speaking English teachers in Prague?

Karin: Absolutely. In fact, I specialised in this exact area for the extended assignment of my Delta. The paper I wrote is called Language Development for In-service Non-Native English teachers in the Czech Republic.

Roberta: Oh, really? Well that’s wonderful! Exactly who we are looking to hire. Say, are you from the US or the UK?

Karin: I am Swiss. As stated in my CV.

Roberta: Really? Are you sure? I cannot hear your accent. Lena, can you hear that she is not a native speaker?

Lena: No. Hm. What a pity. I think we need to discuss this real quick.

See where this is going?


I expected them to leave the room, to come back and escort me outside with a made-up shallow excuse for why they could not employ me. Far from it! They turned to each other and started discussing in Czech right in front of me, simply assuming that I, the dumb foreigner, will not understand them. They talked about how it was a shame that I am not a native.

Roberta (turns back to me): Would you like to teach German?

Karin: I am not a German teacher.

Roberta: That is ok. You are a native.

Karin: I am not. My native language is Swiss-German and I am neither qualified nor able or interested to teach any language but English.

Lena: Are you sure you did not go to university in an English speaking country? That could count.

Karin: I am quite certain I did not.

They continued to talk in Czech. The most humiliating, degrading experience of my professional life, I think. That’s when the pillow thought started to take shape. Eventually they turned back around to me.

Karin: No, je to škoda, že jsem velmi kvalifikovaná, ale narodila jsem se na špatném místě.

Baffled looks. They realise I understood their entire conversation.

Lena: Unfortunately, we cannot offer you to teach the course. We need a native speaker. It is nothing against you, really. It is “psychological”. The participants want to know their teacher is a native speaker.

Karin: You realise you have told me that the other applicants are less qualified and that I am the perfect fit. You understand this is discrimination and against EU law, right?

Roberta: No, it is just psychologically. For the participants. We have lots of non-native teachers for low levels. Maybe we could find some A1 or A2 classes you could teach…

Luckily, I am much better off now than the last time I had this conversation. I have a wonderful full-time job as a teacher trainer that I love, I do not need the money, I was just interested in the work as it is an area of expertise of mine. And, as opposed to last time this happened to me, I know my rights. I know Roberta and Lena are wrong, they are mossbacked, they are unprogressive, they are a plague to our industry. And they are smiling at me.

What this made me realise is how easy it is to forget how backward things still are, what the reality of EFL hiring still is, once you surround yourself with intelligent forward-thinking people.

Since my last post for this blog I have done a lot of research, given workshops, published articles, talked at conferences, presented at IATEFL, worked with great minds on the issue of native speakerism. I discussed the topic with the elite of the industry. And it is easy to forget that that is not the majority of the industry. Sitting in that room, being disrespected and discriminated against by two smug language school owners, making the most offensive claims there are, was a good strong reality check.

Do not get me wrong: Not for a second was I ever under the impression we had won our battle. But I had seriously thought that there was much more awareness now than half a decade ago. That people would at least be ashamed when sitting face to face with a person they are discriminating. At least in Europe.

They are not.

can't believe i still have to protest this shit[17491]

Now, to be completely honest with you, I am not a very good activist. I am too impatient and too lazy and do not enjoy repeating myself like a parrot to people who do not want to listen. I am so tired of this. And I have other research to do, other fights to fight, other thoughts to think. I am fed up. I did not even choose to be so passionate about this issue. In fact, the violation of my very own rights has got old a while ago. I am just not very good at this whole thing. Luckily though, I am good at being angry. I might even be the best at being angry. You would not believe my stamina, my passion, the fuel anger is to my actions.

In the words of Miley Cyrus: We can’t stop and we won’t stop.

I will not buy a pillow. But a megaphone. I will be louder, fight harder and ruffle more feathers.

As a very concrete action, I have decided that I will not accept empty talk any longer and be more critical of alleged changes.

I often get job advertisements from language schools in order to share them with my network of English teachers and recently certified teachers. Many of them ask for native speakers. I used to email them back, explaining that would be discrimination, etc. Asking them to change the wording. They usually would and I would then share the ad.

This week I received another request to share a job opening. Stating “native speakers only” on three occasions within the ad. I was about to write back and realised that same school had already received the nice “could you please change the wording”-email over five times. Clearly, they had not changed a single thing and definitely not their hiring practices but were just paying me lip service to get their ad out there.

I wrote to the school that I do not support hiring processes that promote discrimination in any form and that, should they be ready to revise their practice and focus on applicants’ qualifications and experience rather than their places of birth, they could contact me again in the future with concrete evidence thereof. Until then: Find your natives yourself.

Avoiding discriminatory terminology is a great start and a step in the right direction. But it does not end with terminology.

What needs to follow is deeds and a revision of beliefs that lead to discrimination in the first place. It is some sort of evidence of our work when discriminatory language becomes a no-go for language schools but it does not change that they have a pile of native CVs they actually consider and a pile of non-native CVs which then land in the bin.

Honestly, that the word native is now replaced by native-like competency or native-level speaker, to make ads non-discriminatory, shows that there is no profound change yet, just a strategy around it. Our claims need to get bigger. We can not be happy with the bones the industry throws us. We need genuine change.

Buy a megaphone and pack a lunch. This whole thing is going to take a while.


karin krummenacherKarin is a Prague based teacher trainer, international conference speaker, and published writer. She takes an active interest in teacher development and equality in the industry. Her latest research deals with differentiation on initial teaching training courses. Karin does not sound like a native English speaker but like the proficient non-native speaker she is and thinks that is very much the way it should be. Give her a shout at

How to raise awareness of native speakerism on TrinityCert and CELTA courses – by Sue Annan

[Note from the editor: This post was originally published on Sue Annan’s blog here, and is reproduced on TEFL Equity with Sue’s permission. You can read more about Sue below the blog post]

I have been interested in native speakerism and felt sure that part of the problem was the fact that training courses did not offer a great deal of support for Non Native teachers post course. This is, of course, not the only problem needing to be addressed.

In my own little corner of the world I wanted to create change,  if possible, and I consider myself extremely lucky to work for Trinity College, London , who allow a degree of flexibility when  each  centre designs their course.

I started from a position of strength; my school is more than happy to employ anyone with the right qualifications, regardless of nationality. We also often find non-native trainees on our bi-annual certTESOL courses, and do our very best to help them find work afterwards- in fact, often they stay around for a while and work for us, giving them more experience when they do strike out later on their own.

This time in my programme I made room for the changes I wanted to initiate.

On day 1 we finished with a session called Different Englishes in the Classroom, which included a look at ELF. This was to open the trainees’ eyes to the variety of standard and non-standard language which they would be exposed to, and to develop a tolerance for linguistic variety. Language doesn’t remain static in a box, and there is little need for grammar/ phonology police who believe in their own variety at all costs ( I have come across trainees who think like this).

In a session in week 2, looking at Exploiting Authentic Material, I included the teacher as a resource. We discussed roles of teachers and the benefits of having a native/ non-native teacher in a classroom. Agreement was reached that many clients were brainwashed by companies into believing the NEST was the better option, but in reality, there was  no difference if both were qualified to teach.

By week 3 we had started to receive job offers online from a mix of sources. This often happens and in the past I shared them on a job wall without a great deal of thought. This time I analysed the language and was unhappy with the findings. Of the offers available, only 2 had no restriction according to nationality, passport, age or experience.

At the start of the fourth and final week, I set up a job forum. We discussed sensitivity to local conditions, the present roles of NEST / NNEST teachers and other information to help guide them in the world of work after the course. At this point I divided them into groups and gave them the job applications to read. They quickly found the same conditions that I had, so I asked them how they felt. The group had bonded extremely well, and, protective of Madgalena their resident Pole,  were incensed on her behalf. I also had two older ladies on the course who would also be disadvantaged by the criteria stated.

I asked them to draft replies to the emails we had received. They were very clear in their distaste for such advertisements and explained that they believed the companies were wrong to stipulate these conditions, in some cases acting illegally.

Interestingly, they had a couple of replies. One company offered to remove the offending paragraph from their literature, and the other company said that they would henceforth accept each application on merit. Others were not interested in replying, and one company suggested that we keep them in mind in the future, should WE change our mind!

As an experiment, this worked extremely well. It was easy to shoehorn the topic into other sessions, and to create an opportunity for discussion at all times. Having Magda there was an excellent way for the trainees to really think about the issues, and she was their go-to person for help with their own language awareness questions.

I would be happy to suggest that the idea of incorporating such activities into a CertTESOL or a CELTA should be given consideration. It didn’t disrupt my course at all- in fact I feel that it added value. After all, we promise that our qualification will open the world for our participants- not just for some of them!



[from the editor: if you’re interested in similar training ideas, check out this section of the blog, as well as this article by Karin Krummenacher, Dan Baines and Marek Kiczkowiak]




sue annanSue is a teacher and teacher trainer working for a private language school in the largest of the Channel Islands. As well as being an Eltchat moderator, she is a member of Iatefl BEsig’s online team and is passionate about online learning. She believes that we should all make a difference, no matter how small, to ensure equal treatment for all teachers, with the objective of developing professional standards.

Why do we need to talk about ELF and native speakerism on CELTA and TrinityCert courses?

[Note from the authors: This post originally used information stating that there are no initial teaching training courses discussing English as a Lingua Franca or nativespeakerism. However, the Trinity Cert syllabus includes explicited references to ELF as of 2016. The post has been updated to reflect this. Thanks to the attentive readers for pointing this out.]

One of the biggest elephants in the room is that there is not a single initial teacher training course where discussing English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) and native speakerism are part of the curriculum. Zero. Nought. Zilch. Nada.

While the TrinityCert curriculum bravely encourages trainers to raise awareness of the emergence of ELF in teaching practice and the learner profile assignment, we still believe more explicit input on both ELF and native speakerism is needed as these areas of knowledge go hand in hand. Fortyunately, we were assured that implementing focus on native speakerism on TrinityCert is something Trinity is currently working on (see comments below).

As far as CELTA is concerned, although there is some mention of varieties of English on its curriculum, and while a successful candidate should “understand the main ways that varieties of English differ from one another”; the CELTA trainers we’ve spoken to all confirmed that it’s entirely up to them whether to talk about the lingua franca/international nature of the English language, or not. To top it off, when we asked the person responsible for providing information about CELTA courses at the Cambridge stand at IATEFL 2017 exhibition whether ELF was part of the curriculum, instead of an answer we got a question: Sorry, but what is ELF?

Naturally, this discouraged us from asking ask whether there was any discussion of native speakerism on the course.

It’s a shame these topics are not a bigger part of the curriculum because when Dan Baines surveyed several hundreds of trainees, teachers, trainers and directors of studies; it turned out 97% of the trainees surveyed thought native speakerism was acceptable. 97%!

This is quite shocking, but not surprising if we’re to be honest. After all, they’re right at the beginning of their careers. And if the teacher trainers on the course don’t raise awareness of ELF or native speakerism, then how are the trainees supposed to realise they might be heading in for quite a discriminatory job hunt (especially if they’re ‘non-native speakers’).

It’s also a shame that there is room on CELTA syllabus for probably the biggest ELT myth of them all – learning styles. According to the curriculum, successful candidates “demonstrate an awareness of the different learning styles”. The learning styles myth has been debunked a zillion times (see here, for example), so it’s a pity that such a reputable teacher training qualification would choose to include it over areas such as ELF or native speakerism, which are backed by volumes of academic research.

The recent debate about the relevance of ELF at IATEFL 2017, where Peter Medgyes tried to convince the audience that ELF is of no practical interest to teachers (and in the process showed his own lack of awareness of ELF research), also proved that there is still a huge gap between research and practice in this area. A gap that I think must be bridged. What a better place to bridge this gap then TrinityCert and CELTA? Not to mention the DipTESOL or DELTA.

With all this in mind, Karin Krummenacher, Dan Baines and I conducted a study which aimed to raise TrinityCert trainees’ awareness of ELF and native speakerism. We presented the results at IATEFL 2017 conference in Glasgow, and you can watch the talk below:

So now over to you:

  • Were these two topics ever discussed during your teacher training?
  • As a teacher trainer, do you already include these topics? Why (not)?
  • Do you think they should be discussed with trainees? Why (not)?
  • How could trainers go about discussing these topics?

Looking forward to your comments.

karin krummenacherKarin Krummenacher is a Prague based teacher trainer, conference speaker and published writer. She takes an active interest in teacher development and equality in the industry. Her latest research deals with differentiation on initial teaching training courses. Karin holds Cambridge Delta.

daniel bainesDan is a teacher, director of studies, teacher educator, researcher and occasional conference speaker and blog post writer.  He is the Trinity DipTESOL coordinator at Oxford TEFL in Prague and shares pictures of his whiteboard on Twitter (@QuietBitLoudBit) for fun.

profile picMarek Kiczkowiak is the founder of TEFL Equity Advocates. He runs face-to-face and on-line courses about English as a Lingua Franca and native speakerism. He’s a frequent conference speaker and has given plenaries at international conferences. He’s currently teaching EAP at the University of Leuven, Belgium. He holds a BA in English Philology, Cambridge CELTA and DELTA, and is now working towards a PhD in TESOL at the University of York, UK. He also runs now a sporadically updated blog about ELT at TEFL Reflections and co-authors a regular podcast about teaching and learning English at The TEFL Show.

IATEFL 2017 and the native speaker debate

Yes, it’s this time of year – IATEFL 2017 is almost here. Last year we had a phenomenal plenary from Silvana Richardson about the prejudice many ‘non-native speaker’ teachers suffer from in ELT, which I wrote about here. There were also several really interesting workshops and talks on the topic of ‘native’ and ‘non-native speakers’. So I was really looking forward to seeing what there is in store for those of us interested in equal professional opportunities for ‘non-native speakers’.

It turns out there isn’t much.

Apart from the talk I’m co-presenting with Dan Baines and Karin Krummenacher, which I’ll talk a bit more about in a moment, there is only one other talk that mentions the acronym NNEST (Non-Native Speaker Teacher) in the abstract:

Title: Sink or swim? Preparing trainees for the EFL jobs market.

Time and date: 4th April 2.35pm – 3.05pm

Speaker: Dita Phillips (British Study Centres Oxford-Teacher Training)

Abstract: The murky (sometimes shark-infested) waters of the EFL/ESOL jobs market can be a daunting prospect for newly-qualified teachers, especially non-native speakers (NNESTs). What more can trainers on pre-service courses do to help? I will discuss my survey of CELTA graduates and give practical ideas for helping trainees as they prepare to take the plunge and look for work.

There is also a talk which forms a part of a forum on teacher identity:

Title: ‘I’m not really an expert’: NEST schemes and teacher identity

Time and Date: 06th April 2-3pm

Speakers: Sue Garton (Aston University) & Fiona Copland (University of Stirling)

Abstract: In this presentation, we will examine the identities that native English-speaker teachers (NESTs) and local English teachers (LETs) construct when working  together on NEST schemes. Through an analysis of interview and observational  data, we will show that these identity constructions can affect team-teaching relationships in both positive and negative ways.

One more talk relevant to the ‘native speaker’ debate, which I had originally missed, is this one:

Title: We are. We can. We teach.

Time and date: Thursday 6 April 1645-1715

Abstract: What makes someone a good or successful teacher? Is it simply a question of whether a teacher is a native-speaker or not? Traditionally, that has been the case but recent debate suggests this way of thinking is flawed. How, then, should we define success instead? This talk aims to offer a solution: using teaching competences.

In a way perhaps, the whole debate about ‘native’ and ‘non-native speaker’ teachers might be taking us away from what is really important, that is the ability to teach, regardless of your first language or nationality. So I’m really looking forward to the talk. Hopefully, it will provide a fresh perspective on the debate.

Finally, as Laura Patsko and Katy Simpson pointed out in this blog post, there’s also only one presentation focused on English as a Lingua Franca (ELF). This is a shame as I really hoped that after last year’s plenary, there would be a much wider choice of talks on native speakerism and ELF.

Our talk

Did you know that 50% of trainees on certificate level TEFL courses Dan Baines surveyed find job ads for ‘native speakers’ only acceptable? In other words, 50% of people taking Trinity Cert or CELTA see nothing wrong with advertising for ‘native speakers’ only.

This was what prompted us to start our research project – we wanted to raise trainees’ awareness of native speakerism and English as a Lingua Franca. To start a discussion about these issues. To get them thinking about these things.

And ultimately, to see if we could change their beliefs about ‘native’ and ‘non-native speaker’ teachers and the English language.

To this end, we developed a series of awareness-raising tasks on Moodle which the trainees did during their 4-week TrinityCert course. We conducted a survey at the beginning of the course, and once they’ve completed the tasks, and we also interviewed them to get a more in-depth perspective on their beliefs.

What were the results?

Come to our talk to find out 🙂

Title: NESTs and NNESTs: awareness-raising and promoting equality through
teacher training

Speakers: Karin Krummenacher, Daniel Baines (Oxford TEFL Prague) & Marek
Kiczkowiak (University of Leuven)

Time and Date: 06th April 2-2.30pm

Abstract: This talk explores how trainers can raise trainees’ awareness of ELF and native speakerism on pre-service training courses through online and face-to-face
activities. It presents the effects these had on trainees’ beliefs and gives
participants an array of practical ideas and activities they can incorporate into
their own training routine. It concludes with implications for teacher training
courses in general.

You might also be interested in reading the article Karin, Dan and I published in ELTed Journal, where we outline why and how trainers should raise awareness of native speakerism. You can access the pdf here.

Dan and Karin also wrote blog posts for TEFL Equity Advocates:

  1. I am Hank, or being a NNEST in Prague – Karin Krummenacher
  2. The attitudes to discrimination in ELT job ads – the importance of teaching experience – Dan Baines
  3. Sexism, ageism, racism and native speakerism – job ads in ELT – Dan Baines
  4. Cheeky postcards: lessons learned from being a trainer on TEFL courses – Dan Baines

Hope to see you there!

PS In case you can’t make it, we’ll record the talk and put it up on TEFL Equity Advocates YouTube channel, so watch this space! Follow the channel and the blog so you don’t miss it.

Attitudes to discrimination in ELT job ads – the importance of teaching experience by Dan Baines

The first article in this series of blogposts looked at the general attitudes to discrimination around the industry in general. This second piece will look at the disparity of belief between trainee and novice teacher and those who are more experienced.

Trainee teachers and native speakerism

When contrasting the views of trainee teachers with the rest of the industry it can be seen that some of the data is consistent with the overall tendencies whereas some shows more variation. Regarding visible tattoos, requiring EU passports, asking for C1 proficiency and employment of Caucasian teachers, there is very little difference in these attitudes except that trainee teachers seem marginally more likely (6%) to see a language requirement as justification and are slightly more likely (again 6%) to see racist hiring policies in China as unjustified.

However, there seems to be a much greater disparity with the issue of native speaker requirements. Promisingly, 68% of teachers in general found the requirement for native English speakers to be both discriminatory and unjustified while the number of trainee teachers stands at a much smaller 50% meaning that 50% find this practice either justifiable (20%) or simply not discriminatory at all (30%).

The data also suggests that teachers become more aware of native speakerism as a form of discrimination as they move through their career. As can be seen in chart 1, the likelihood of considering nativespeakerism to be an unjustifiable form of discrimination seem to rise with experience.

This data would seem to suggest one, or a combination, of scenarios.


1. As teachers become more experienced, they become less likely to see being a NNEST as being a hindrance or to see being a NEST as a legitimate “qualification”
2. The trainee teachers who believe being a NEST is a legitimate requirement simply leave the industry.
3. Perceptions of what a NES is change over time and therefore changes their attitude.

There also seems to be a difference in interpretation when respondents are considered by job (chart 2). The groups who found native speakerism the least justifiable are the people in jobs that typically require a greater amount of experience (academic management and teacher trainers). What is interesting in the case of academic management is that these are often the people responsible for the hiring of teachers, so, possibly due to market demand, directors of studies are enforcing prejudices they disagree with whilst adding to the further discrimination of NNESTs. What is striking is that 73% of ex-teachers felt that these hiring practices were unjustified, suggesting that the reason for the change in attitude is not down to teachers simply leaving the industry.


What is a native speaker?

There was much less variation between trainee teachers and more experienced teachers when it came to defining the term native speaker (they were instructed to choose as many as they agreed with, not to choose one definition). As can be seen from chart 3, the distribution is very similar with “born in an English speaking country” and “grew up speaking English at home” being the most chosen options by both groups. However, with the exception of other, each option was chosen more frequently overall than it was by the trainee teachers, suggesting that the more experienced were more confident about how to define this term. Some of the differences may suggest that trainee teachers are less knowledgeable about issues such as World Englishes and bilingualism. Twice as many trainees chose to fill in the “other” field, but many responses contained contained rather vague phrases such as “mother tongue” or “first language”.


The biggest surprise with the data was that there was no overall consensus on what being a native speaker means. 65% was the highest percentage, with nothing else breaking, or in many cases coming close to, the 60% mark. If the professionals that make up the industry can’t agree on what this term means, why do we see it nearly everywhere we look.


Textbook and non-textbook examples

At the outset it was expected that trainees’ interpretation of well-known forms of discrimination and non-discrimination (racism, sexism, ageism, relevant skills and qualifications) would mirror the overall tendencies of the group. However, whilst this was found to be true for racism and the requirement for a high English proficiency, others differed. The surrounding context of the women’s college and the summer camp led to variation in opinion, with many stating the requirements of this specific context as the reason to justify the discrimination.

With the issue of the native speaker requirement, on the other hand, there was no such contextual justification. Nothing about the country or the type of position was mentioned at any point, but just that students prefer it and that NEST may just be better in some areas. It’s not surprising that over time teachers encounter native speakerism within the profession, but how often is this addressed in pre-service and early service education? It wasn’t mentioned on my CELTA nor was there any mention of it on my DELTA or MA TESOL.

Reasons for individual differences

Above I outlined 3 possible reasons for the disparity between trainees and the rest of the industry on the issue of native speakerism, but the evidence presented seems to suggest that there is only one conceivable reason for it. Firstly, there doesn’t seem to be a huge shift in definitions of what a NES is. If you separate the charts and lay one on top of the other, the distribution is nearly identical with the only significant differences being the open-mindedness in general responses, indicated by the higher percentages for each descriptor. The idea that those unaware of native speakerism or those who feel it is justified are leaving the industry also seems to be unfounded as ex-teachers were one of the most likely to see native speaker based discrimination to be unjustifiable. Which takes us back to the first explanation that awareness of the issue comes with experience.

Native speakerism and teacher training

This begs a couple of very important questions. Why is it taking so long for more teachers to acknowledge the discrimination in ELT? Why isn’t there any focus on issues of discrimination in teacher education courses? It seems unlikely that there is some kind of conspiracy to keep this a secret to protect the interests of NESTs, but more likely that when trying to force methodology, language awareness, teaching practice etc. into 120 hours, some issues are seen as simply less important. Silvana Richardson’s recent IATEFL plenary was a great step forward in addressing the elephant that has been camped in the room for decades, but in many ways she was preaching to the choir. The standing ovation at the end was deserved and you could see the emotion in the eyes of those present as she described their experiences through her own, but these people are the industry. How are we sending the message to those who have yet to join?

Many institutions, TESOL France and IATEFL, to name a couple, have taken a firm stance on job advertisements with discriminatory language, but the fact still remains that dozens of ads are posted elsewhere everyday that go unchecked. The jobs themselves are frequently aimed at teachers with minimal classroom experience, instead preferring a place of birth as the experience to supplement CELTA/Cert TESOL, making them appealing for teachers fresh from training courses. As a result, many teachers unknowingly fuel the fire of this discrimination by applying for and accepting these jobs and furthering the idea that NS status makes a significant difference to one’s ability to do the job. If this is the case, teachers deserve to be fully informed about the myth they are perpetuating and the biases in the industry; some will inevitably exploit to their own ends, but others may take a stand and educate others.

There has been a lot of recent debate about whether initial teacher training courses privilege NEST and there have been many fine arguments put forward by both sides. However, what does remain clear is that there is definitely inadequate attention given to issues such as this despite there being so many opportunities for its inclusion. Most courses offer some kind of career support, so why not take 15 minutes to highlight the kind of prejudice that exists? Why not find an hour to look at qualities of good teaching/teachers and explore where this fits within the NEST/NNEST dichotomy?

[from the editor: If you’re looking for inspiration for activities, check out the article Dan Baines co-wrote with Marek Kiczkowiak and Karin Krummenacher, which is available here. You might also want to take a look at sample lesson plans here, or attend the upcoming webinar with Michael Griffin and Zhenya Polosatova entitled: Exploring NNS issues in a teacher training course.]

daniel bainesDaniel Baines is the Director of Studies at Oxford House Prague and a Trinity CertTESOL and DipTESOL tutor. He holds an MA TESOL from Sheffield Hallam University and has given talks at conferences in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain and most recently at IATEFL in the UK. His primary research interests are native speakerism in ELT and reflection in initial teacher training. He was a finalist in the 2014 British Council ELT Masters Dissertation Award.

'The N factor': spreading equality in your workplace – by Sarah Priestley

After watching Silvana Richardson’s IATEFL 2016 plenary ‘ The native factor, the haves and have-nots’ this April I immediately asked myself what I could do to raise awareness of some of the issues Silvana highlighted.  Through meeting Marek on Twitter we started chatting about my ideas.  So, this post is to share with you the activities I have recently done to help my teaching colleagues and customer service staff be more aware of ‘The N factor’.  I hope I might inspire you to do something similar in your organization!1In May 2016, to get the ball rolling, I presented a slot in our monthly teacher 15 minute forum (a CPD event for teachers where teachers have 5 minutes to summarize a teaching idea, an article or an area of interest) on ‘The N factor’. 10 teachers came and for most of them it was the first time they had heard about this area of hot debate.   I highlighted some key facts and figures from Silvana Richardson’s plenary and commented on how our own staffroom was made up of both NS and NNS and that we should all be proud of who we are.  I reiterated this point by quoting Peter Medgyes, who I was lucky enough to hear speak at the EICE Valencia conference this May.


To spread the word to all teaching staff I shared my 15 minute forum slides in an email and wrote a short summary of my 15 minute slot in our weekly teacher newsletter. I also continued to talk about the topic over the next few days and weeks with anyone who would listen to me!

Afterwards, I also realized that our customer service staff might be interested in hearing what I had to say.  After all, they deal with the public every day and a frequent comment they hear is ‘Of course, I presume that all your teachers are mother-tongue speakers.’  I wondered how confident my customer service colleagues were in handling this scenario and how knowledgeable they were of the advantages that both NS and NNS teachers can bring to the classroom.

Our Director and Customer Service Manager were very keen and enthusiastic about my suggestion so in June I organized 2 briefing sessions.  Chatting with a fellow teacher Ania Krzyzosiak, we decided to prepare and run the customer service sessions together (you can download the handout here).  That way, there would be both a NS and NNS delivering the session and 2 brains and pairs of hands are always better than one!  16 colleagues attended and our 30 minute briefing generated a lot of healthy discussion and comments.  I think the Venn diagram activity, where they had to think about the qualities that NS and NNS can bring to the classroom, was particularly thought-provoking and made my non-teaching colleagues consider advantages that they had never really thought about til then.


The exit tickets we collected at the end of the 2 customer service sessions included comments such as ‘More convincing arguments for answering the basic question.’ and ‘Non-NEST teachers can teach as accurately as NEST teachers.’

IATEFL 2016 may be over but Silvana Richardson brought to the foreground very important issues and there is still plenty to be done on tackling discrimination and misconceptions in many organisations and at many levels in the ELT world.  I work for the British Council and we have a global policy of equal opportunity for recruitment.  That said, I still feel it is important to discuss ‘The N factor’ in my workplace.  I hope my small contribution will go some way to continuing this debate and that after reading this blog you might be thinking of how you, too, can spread the NSNNS word!

If you’d like to see some lesson materials for adult students connected to the NS NNS topic then click here.  If you have any ideas or comments about this blog then post them below and/or tweet them to me at @Sarah_TTrainer .

About the author

sarah priestleySarah’s teaching and teacher training career over the last 20 years has taken her to Eastern Europe, the Far East and Europe, where she currently works at the British Council.  A Cambridge CELTA and Young Learner extension tutor, she has trained both teachers working in the state sector and in ELT.  She is currently Coordinator of the Bilingual Education Consultancy Service British Council Italy and teaches adults and young learners.  You can follow her on Twitter @Sarah_TTrainer


Going beyond the native speaker model in ELT – on-line course for teachers, trainers and materials writers

Recently TEFL Equity Advocates has launched on-line courses which tackle a variety of issues concerning ‘native’ and ‘non-native speakers’, their roles in ELT, and the lack of professional equality between them. You can check out all the courses here.

Going beyond the native speaker model in ELT

It’s become sort of an article of faith that all research in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) should compare language learners with ‘native speakers’. Similarly, in English Language Teaching (ELT) the ‘native speaker’ is often said to be the ideal teacher and the ideal model of language. However, just what does it mean to say that someone is a ‘native speaker’? And “when we say:

  • you’ll have to ask a native speaker, or
  • don’t ask me, I’m not a native speaker,

what is it we are appealing to? What is it that human native speakers know? What sort of knowledge does the native speaker have?” (Davies, 2012, p.1).

We also need to ask ourselves if and why the ‘native speaker’ should be the ideal model of language. And who gets to decide? If not the ‘native speaker’ model, then which one do we teach instead? What are the alternatives?

We’ll tackle all this and more during the course. Watch this short introduction to find out more about the course.

What’s included in the course?

  • 10 hours of online instruction,
  • 5 hours of guided self-study,
  • 2 sections,
  • 11 lectures,
  • 3 videos featuring ELT experts,
  • 7 video presentations,
  • 7 articles by ELT and SLA experts;
  • guidance and help from your tutor.

What will I get out of the course?

By the end of the course you will have a better understanding of where the idealised notion of the ‘native speaker’ comes from. You will have also questioned whether or not ‘native speaker’ language should be seen as the only appropriate model in ELT. You will also have looked at course book materials with a more critical eye and learnt how to adapt the materials to promote a more international view of English. Finally, if you’re currently teaching or teacher training, you will have also got a chance to try out some of the ideas from the course in practice, and to reflect on the outcomes.

So by the end of the course you will have not only learnt more about the latest developments in ELT, but also got an array of new teaching ideas and activities you can use in your daily teaching, materials writing or teacher training.

How do I sign up?

It’s very simple. Just click here to be redirected to the course page where you can read more about it, take a look at the curriculum, preview two lectures and sign up.

If you have questions, comment below or get in touch.

'Tackling native speakerism in ELT' – recording of the IATEFL 2016 panel discussion

Finally, we got around to publishing the recording of the panel discussion on native speakerism that me, Burcu Akyol, Josh Round and Christopher Graham did at IATEFL 2016. In it we addressed the problem of native speakerism in ELT; that is:

a prejudice, stereotyping and/or discrimination, typically by or against foreign language teachers, on the basis of either being or not being perceived and categorized as a native speaker of a particular language. […] Its endorsement positions individuals from certain language groups as being innately superior to individuals of other language groups (Haughton and Rivers 2013, p.14).

We addressed the issue from three perspectives, that of a ‘non-native speaker’ (Burcu), a recruiter (Josh), and a teacher trainer (Christopher). Each of the speakers offered practical ideas how the prejudice against ‘non-native speakers’ can be overcome. There was also a 30 minute Q&A session.

For your convenience, the recording was divided into six shorter sections:

  1. Introduction.
  2. ‘Non-native speaker’ perspective.
  3. Recruitment perspective.
  4. Teacher training perspective.
  5. Q&A session.
  6. Conclusion.

For each, both an audio recording and a video with the slides are available. You can access the audio playlist on Soundcloud here. The video playlist is on YouTube here. You can also read the transcript of the whole panel discussion here. The audio was recorded and edited by Mike Harrison (thanks a lot Mike!). You can visit his website here. The transcript was done by Karina Roberts (thanks a lot Karina!).

1. Introduction – marek kiczkowiak



2. Non-native speaker perspective – Burcu Akyol



3. Recruitment perspective – josh round



4. Teacher training perspective – Christopher graham


5. Q&A session



6. Conclusion – Marek Kiczkowiak



'Tackling native speakerism in ELT' – IATEFL 2016 panel discussion

With this short video I wanted to invite you to an IATEFL 2016 panel discussion on native speakerism in ELT which will take place on Thursday 14th April in Hall 11a at 5.25pm. I will be joined by Burcu Akyol, Christopher Graham and Josh Round. See you there 🙂

You can watch other videos, interviews and webinars about native speakerism in ELT on TEA YouTube channel here.

'I am just me' – lesson plan by Zhenya Polosatova and Michael Griffin

This is the first lesson plan for teacher training to appear on TEA. Pop back to the Activities and Lesson Plans section every now and again as it will be regularly updated with lesson plans for ESL/EFL classes and for teacher training aimed at raising awareness of different issues surrounding native speakerism in ELT. If you’d like to submit a lesson plan, please get in touch here. Always looking for new contributors.

We’ll start off with some comments from the authors, followed by the lesson plan itself. If you decide to use it, have any comments or suggestions, please let us know in the comments section. We’d really appreciate your feedback.

Mike Griffin:

The lesson comes from a mentor-training course conducted with Korean public school English teachers in which participants received input and practice helping other teachers with their professional development. One core aspect of the course is observation and feedback. This is partially done through  is micro-teaching where participants run a lesson for their peers and then receive feedback in a post-observation feedback session from those who participated as observers during the lesson. This particular lesson was used as an example reading lesson and a chance to model the procedure. There was no  real requirement to touch on NNEST issues or anything related to participant confidence or comfort but it just seemed like a nice chance to address these issues. The idea was to use material that would be personally relevant to the participants and get them to think about issues of confidence and community. Other trainers could conceivably use the material and lesson anytime there is a chance to do a sample/demo lesson  to focus on the fears related to using English in and out of the training course. Such a lesson is probably best suited to the first few days of the course when participants might be a their most worried that they are the only one with this type of concern.

Zhenya Polosatova:

Mike, I really like how you described the context/background for the lesson. Something to add is that perhaps using the lesson in the NNS/’EFL’ context (especially at the beginning of the course) opens and encourages the discussion about how the teachers’ perception of their own English helps or hinders their coming perception of and learning on the course. Perhaps especially relevant to the Asian countries, and especially so if the trainer is an ‘outsider’ from the culture/country. It is hard to generalize thought, because the lesson was created specifically for South Korea.

Another possible reason for working with these texts is to model how the choice of text might impact the learners. As Mike mentioned, the teachers were designing a language lesson for each other, taking into consideration the background and interests of the peers, and taking the text was an attempt to do the same as trainers.

Credit: taken by Tana Ebaugh in Daegu, South Korea

Credit: taken by Tana Ebaugh in Daegu, South Korea

Lesson Plan


Teacher (candidates) will be able to demonstrate understanding of the three semi-fiction texts about the teachers’ feelings on a training course by filling out the grid; they will also be expressing their opinions and guesses about the background of the teachers and advice that can possibly help them survive the course and gain confidence in general. In this discussion they will be able to use at least 2 of the expressions/collocations from the texts.


Talk to each other in pairs and answer these questions:

  • You are all English teachers. Have you ever taken any training courses (other than this one) in Korea? Abroad?
  • When was the last time you took a TT course? Where was it?
  • Where were the other teachers / trainees from?
  • How did you feel the night before the course began? And after it started? Mark ‘yourself’ on the line

🙁 ———————————————————————————————- 🙂

-50                                                      0                                                               +50

  • Do you think the other teachers on that course had the same feelings?

Reading 1

(T notes: only text A for everyone, see below, handout folded – 2-3 mins)

TASK: Read through the text and see if the text confirms your opinion about the feelings teachers usually have at the beginning of a course.

Text A

The training course just started and I think I’m the oldest in the group! Everyone will expect me to be full of knowledge and insight because of my many years of experience but I am just a regular teacher. Yes, I have been teaching for a long time but that doesn’t mean that I am a good teacher. It doesn’t really mean anything except that I have been teaching for a long time. I’m very worried because I think I don’t fit in here with all these excellent younger teachers. They are so smart and sharp. Was I ever that young and full of energy? I don’t think so. I am just me, a regular teacher. They were trained in all these new ways and know all this new stuff and are so good at speaking English. This is going to be a long and difficult course. I am worried everyone will expect too much from me and then will see I am just a regular teacher. How embarrassing! Now everyone will know exactly how I compare to these younger and better teachers. I am not looking forward to this at all.

Reading 2

(T notes: only text A for everyone, 5 mins)

TASK: Read your text and put ‘X’ in the corresponding column in the grid.


(T notes: go through the grid and demonstrate on the board, remind that we only focus on column A for now; peer checking – checking all together, by naming the correct answers and finding evidence in the text)

(T notes: optional question, if time allows: Where do you think the teacher comes from? Have you ever met a teacher who had the same feelings?)

Jig-Saw reading

(T notes: 10 mins for both tasks and peer sharing; Divide Ss into B+B and C+C pairs; explain that for the following 5-7 minutes they are going to read different texts and work separately from the other group, same tasks as above – fill in the grid, peer checking).

Text B

I don’t think I belong here. The teacher training course has just started but I don’t think I can really enjoy it. I’m already stressed out. I’m worried I don’t fit in here. I know I worry too much sometimes but everyone else is so smart, talented, enthusiastic and experienced but I am just me. I don’t think I have anything to offer the group and I am worried I will always be stealing ideas from these great teachers without adding anything for the whole course. I’m sure I’m the worst trainee here. I’m not good at English and what’s worse I am not so good at teaching either. I always make so many mistakes in English and in teaching. I know I have a lot to learn and I am lucky to be with such a great group but I feel out-of-place with all these great people around me. I wonder how I can survive this course.

Text C

The good news is I can speak English pretty well. Everything else is the bad news. I think am in the wrong place. My teacher training course has just started and I am very impressed by my group members. Some have been teaching for many years and some have brilliant ideas about teaching and most of them have lots of knowledge and experience. I am just me and I don’t have any of that. I only have what I read in university classes but I don’t really know what I am doing in my class at school. Here, we are expected to talk about teaching and share and reflect on our experiences. I’m worried that my experience is not long enough or valuable enough. I feel like I have nothing to offer the group. I don’t think anyone wants to hear about my silly problems and big failures from school. What can I do? I don’t know how I can survive this course.

Reading 3, Language work

(T notes: 3-5 mins)

TASK: You have now read about all the three teachers (between A and B) Look through the texts again and find expressions the teachers are using to describe themselves on a course, and their peers. Choose those expressions or collocations that you might find useful in your own language use.


  • What do all the three teachers have in common?
  • Where do you think they come from? Why do you think so?
  • Could they all be in the same training group on the same course? Why, or why not?
  • Where do you think the author comes from?
  • What relationship does the author have with the teachers in the texts? (a colleague? a peer trainee on that course? a trainer? a friend who is not a teacher? another idea?)
  • Is there anything you would like to ask the author about?
  • What do you think the title for the three texts would be? Can it be one title? Why, or why not?
  • If you had a chance to talk to the teacher(s) in the text, what would you say to them? What advice could you give? (both professionally and personally)
  • Would you like to talk to the teachers? Have you ever met teachers like them in your life? How do you feel after reading what they shared?
(T notes: all the three texts were originally published on Michael Griffin’s blog here).

Answers – reading 2

grid answers

answers – reading 3

answers lg

Authors’ bio notes:

ZhenyaPolosatovaPic [3665352]Zhenya Polosatova is dividing her time between teacher- and trainer training and curriculum design/development. Over the last 15 years she has also worked as an EFL teacher to children and adults, educational consultant, and an academic manager/director. Zhenya’s area of interest and passion is applying reflective practice in teacher education and continuous professional development for teachers. She blogs here and is a co-founding member of PTEC, or Pioneer Training and Education Consortium offering a range of services from curriculum development to teacher training. PTEC website can be found here.

Michael Griffin-0013-Edit_FB [3522994]Michael Griffin has been involved with English teaching for 15 years. He has worked as a teacher, teacher trainer, trainer-trainer, curriculum developer, substitute teacher, assistant director, and mentor. Intercultural awareness, world Englishes, curriculum development and reflective practice are some of his main interests. You can find his blog here.