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.

 

 

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

  1. eltnick says:

    An excellent post – which is exactly what I expected when I saw who the writer was. I think this is exactly what we need. Saying that you are in favour of equity in ELT is fine and of course the more support we get, the better. What we really need though is to move from words to actions. Small steps like the ones introduced by Sue can make all the difference. In particular, I loved the idea of the trainees sending e-mails to companies. We tend to think that people change through awareness-raising and conscious deliberation but in fact, research suggests that it is action that changes people – far more quickly and far more effectively.

  2. Sue Annan says:

    Thanks Nick. It is something I have wanted to get involved in for a while, but when I stopped to consider it, it seems more effective to get the trainees Involved. That way, the ripple effect has more momentum, as they go on their way into jobs. They will carry the message with them and make their voices heard in parts of the world that I don’t have access to, while fully understanding the issues and able to articulate their feelings about the subject.

  3. Ben Beaumont says:

    Yes, sending the e-mails about the jobs was inspired thinking – great that you managed to get two places to change their approach. Every little helps and with concerted actions like this, we can change things for the better!

    It’s also excellent to see how you’ve really integrated this into the course. Rather than have a session on it, you’ve raised it as an issue throughout the course, helping trainees see that there isn’t just one way to speak English and that there are other varieties, just as acceptable those protected by the ‘grammar police’ you speak of!

    Thanks for doing such innovative work on the CertTESOL!

  4. Sue Annan says:

    Thanks for the endorsement.I plan to continue and will make sure that it is integral to what is going on without making a big fuss of it, and possibly turning people off.
    It would be great to hear Trinity advise other courses to do something similar, as it is only the first steps that are the most challenging.

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