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'The Native factor' what's next after Silvana Richardson's IATEFL 2016 plenary

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It was Day 2 of IATEFL 2016. 9am. Silvana Richardson gave her plenary ‘The Native factor – the haves and the have-nots’. A plenary that is bound to go down in history. One of the best things that could have happened to our industry. It’s a plenary that should be a must see for all future plenary speakers. It received a standing ovation. It was interrupted several times by loud applause from the audience. Some had tears in their eyes when it finished. A perfect mix of pathos, ethos and logos. So if you haven’t seen it yet, please watch it now. I’ll wait for you.

Amazing, wasn’t it?

It’s probably not surprising then that the social media have exploded with blog posts about the ‘Native factor’. Lizzie Pinard wrote a great summary of the plenary. She also wrote a follow-up post which really hit the nail on the head as far as the inadequacy and simplicity of the NS and NNS labels is concerned.

Mercedes Viola wrote a post putting together some very interesting quotes, videos and pictures about being native, non-native and bilingual. Not least from the famous David Crystal, whom I interviewed for TEFL Equity here, and who said he doesn’t use the term native speaker as a linguist any more. The way forward?

Andy Hockley wrote an article about management in ELT, where he towards the end promises that “From this point forward, if anybody who has responsibility for recruitment says in one of my sessions ‘We have to hire native speakers, because the students expect/want it’, I will respond as I did back then, that even if that is 100% true it’s not a good enough answer.” And of course, this is not 100% true. Probably more close to 0% true. For example, in a recent study done in Vietnam, students were found to place greater importance on six other factors than on being a NS.

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For other examples, please watch Silvana’s plenary, or check out the reading list here on TEFL Equity.

Hugh Dellar via Lexical Lab reflects on CELTA and whether it privileges native speakers in this very thought-provoking article. Mind you, it’s worth reading the comments below it as it seems Hugh has opened a can of worms.

And in this 5-minute video which I recorded for The TEFL Show podcasts I reflected on a couple of things Silvana said in her plenary.

Also, Isabela Villas Boas addressed the NS and NNS dichotomy in this post.

If I missed any posts, please let me know, as there has been a flurry of blogging activity post Silvana plenary, so if you’ve written a post about it, I’d love to add it to the list.

And Silvana’s wasn’t the only IATEFL 2016 presentation on the topic. Together with Burcu Akyol, Josh Round and Christopher Graham we gave a panel discussion on tackling native speakerism, that is a prejudice against those perceived as non-native speakers of English. Here’s a short video introducing the talk:

Lizzie Pinard wrote a fantastic summary of the session which you can read here. Mike Harrison kindly offered to record the audio, and it will be available soon on TEFL Equity, so please stay tuned 🙂

Then Dita Phillips gave a presentation entitled: I’m a non-native English speaker teacher – hear me roar! It was summarised by Lizzie Pinard in this post.

I also saw a very interesting talk about intercultural communication and English as a Lingua Franca, which I reported on in this video for The TEFL Show podcasts:

You might be wondering then what’s next. How are we going to capitalise on the increased interest in the prejudice against those in ELT who are perceived as ‘non-native speakers’. Well, the first thing me and Silvana decided to do is to post all the questions which she couldn’t answer during the Q&A session on this blog, so we can continue the discussion. The first lot will be up next week, so stay tuned.

Of course, each of us is in a different position within ELT. Some of you might be school directors or recruiters. Some of you might be teacher trainers. Others might be chairs of teaching associations, while others simply English teachers. And probably several of you are some or all of the above. So there are different things you could do depending on your position. And some specific action points are listed here.

But there are some things each and every one of us can and probably should do if we want ELT to finally become a more egalitarian profession, where teachers will not be divided into two antagonistic species, but a profession which values all of us for what we do best: teach English. So if you’d like to get involved, consider some of the below points:

  • give a workshop at your school
  • present at a conference
  • give a webinar – TEFL Equity is always looking for new presenters, so please check out the webinars page
  • write an article for a newsletter or a blog post – if you’d like to write for TEFL Equity, please get in touch. You can check out the blog for inspiration here
  • add the supporter’s badge to your site – find out more how to do this here

    Design @Jonathan Cordero and @Tekhnologic
    Design @Jonathan Cordero and @Tekhnologic
  • if you see a discriminatory job ad on a jobs board or on social media, please write to the advertiser – it will only take a couple of minutes, but can cause some real change (read my post about this here)
  • you can also write a statement of support for TEFL Equity – read other statements here
  • find out whether your school or teaching association has equal employment oportunities policy; if they don’t suggest one – you can base it on position statements against discrimination issued by teaching associations such as TESOL International
  • use social media – tweet about it, post on FB, share blog posts and videos related to the issue
  • you can also contribute financially by donating to TEFL Equity campaign by clicking on the button below – find out more about how the funds are being used and why they are needed here
    Donate Button with Credit Cards

And if there are any other ways in which you feel you could get involved in the campaign, please comment below or get in touch.

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Maha Hassan
Guest

Hi, I really liked Silvana’s Plenary Speech. She really had the guts to say it out loud there at the home of IATEFL. I do respect her for that!! Please, read my comment on my BLOG just after she had finished her speech. http://teachingenglishcafe.blogspot.com.eg/2016/04/hoorah-to-silvana-richardson-impressive.html
You comments are welcome

lizziepinard
Guest

“Pinard” 😉

isabelavb
Guest

Great wrap-up of the discussions around Silvana’s plenary. I myself wrote a post for the Richmondshare blog on this issue (which I started writing even before Silvana’s plenary but was fortunate to have had the chance to enhance with her thoughts), based on a recent discussion on a Facebook page. Have a look at one of the comments and you will see that we still have a long way to go! http://www.richmondshare.com.br/the-native-versus-non-native-teacher-dichotomy-challenging-mental-models/

trackback

[…] succeeded against the odds, blog posts written by the website curators (most recently, a post that questions what comes next after Silvana Richardson’s IATEFL 2016 plenary ) and, finally, a “Talk to the Experts” section, which contains a list of links to a […]

peter
Guest
peter

This is just another outgrowth of the pernicious political correctness movement, arguing that we are really all the same. Oh, such folly. I’d love to compete in the Tour de France, but no matter how hard I train, I just don’t have the physique. I want my students exposed to native speakers who can tap into a rich linguistic and cultural trove simply inaccessible to non-natives socialized in a different tongue. The decision to hire natives or non-natives should be left to those doing the hiring. By the way, since most of you don’t seem to speak German at native… Read more »

Helen Strong
Guest

“I want my students exposed to native speakers…”
Have you asked your students what THEY want, Peter?

peter
Guest
peter

My students tell me that they want native speakers only. They appreciate having a language role model whose pronunciation is perfect, whose grammar is impeccable. They tell me that they chose to study at our institution because we only hire qualified native speakers in all of the languages we offer.

Helen Strong
Guest

How many of your students did you ask, Peter, and how did you word the research question exactly?

peter
Guest
peter

Helen, you’re trying to turn this into a technical question. The core issue, it seems to me, is pseudo-philosophical (Derrida deconstructing binary oppositions leading to the current PC craze), linguistic and post-colonial (what is native speaker English and who speaks it), and economic (they won’t hire me because I’m not a native speaker). As I’ve said before: You don’t want to hire a native speaker (of whatever definition)? Great, more power to you. But please don’t tell me what I do is unprofessional or even, as some seem to imply, morally repugnant.

lizziepinard
Guest

“They appreciate having a language role model whose pronunciation is perfect, whose grammar is impeccable.” – As Marek says, it is doubtful that such a thing exists. But if it does, then I would say, for example, Silvana Richardson would fit the bill nicely. She’s not a “native speaker” though!

peter
Guest
peter

Thank you for your support – you just made my argument. If a non-native fits your particular bill, so much the better.

lizziepinard
Guest

Errrrm that was your ‘bill’ I was responding to, not mine! I was merely pointing out that a ‘non-native speaker’ could fulfil it (while not all ‘native speakers’ could). So i think you’ll find I just crushed your argument. 🙂

peter
Guest
peter

Nope, sorry. My point from the outset was: You decide who’s best for you, according to your quality standards. If a non-native meets those criteria for you – great!

Helen Strong
Guest

“The decision to hire natives or non-natives should be left to those doing the hiring.”
The decision to use child labour in factories should be left to the multinational corporations.
The decision to execute people because of their sexual preferences should be left to the governments.
The decision to abuse their children should be left to the parents.

We’re talking about basic human rights, here, Peter. WE get to determine what kind of society we want to live in.

peter
Guest
peter

Sorry, Helen. but you lost me the moment you implied I condone child labor. My goodness. Sense of proportion, please?

trackback

[…] TEFL Equity Advocates: ‘The native factor’ What’s next after Silvana Richardson’s IATEFL 2016 plena… […]

wadingthroughtreacle
Guest

Reblogged this on Christopher Graham's Teacher Development Blog and commented:
Notes and ideas around a recent panel I was on at IATEFL. Thanks to Marek.

Tatiana Njegovan
Guest
Tatiana Njegovan

I am very glad about the new moments in “the teaching business”, to call it that way. I am an English teacher who came to live in France in 2002 from Belgrade, Serbia, where for 12 years I worked as a full-time certified teacher of English. My husband got a job here in avio industry and that was the reason why we came. My professional history here in France is sad and complicated because of my origins, although I validated my Master 1 at  French University, obtained C2 level in French and have in my CV TOEFL, Cambridge Proficiency Cerificate,… Read more »

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

I’m going to summarise Silvana’s plenary in a teacher training 15 minute forum this month. I’ve double-checked with our equal ops, diversity & inclusion coordinator our policy for recruiting teachers and also how we handle student questions about nnest.

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[…] days after Silvana Richardson’s brilliant plenary: The Native factor (read more about it here), there was an equally fascinating Q&A session. However, since it was impossible to address all […]

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[…] days after Silvana Richardson’s brilliant plenary: The Native factor (read more about it here), there was an equally fascinating Q&A session. However, since it was impossible to address all […]

Chris
Guest
Chris

I might be commenting a bit late but I’ll give it a shot anyway as I’ve only just discovered this inspiring talk. I’m a native-speaker of English and I also work as an English teacher. I thought the talk was fascinating and gave me lots to think about and I’d like to offer another perspective. Yes, I agree that ‘nativeness’ is a poor indicator as to whether someone makes a good teacher or not. Totally agree. I would choose a qualified non-native over a native with no relevant qualifications any day. But I have a bit of an issue when… Read more »

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[…] 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 […]

TeamBritanniaHu
Guest

Reblogged this on hungarywolf.

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