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FECEI issues a statement against native speakerism

In February this year I had the pleasure to attend FECEI’s (The National Federation of Private Language Schools in Spain) annual conference in Madrid.

For a while I’ve been really amazed with all the great work FECEI has been doing to promote equal opportunities in ELT, especially as far as ‘native’ and ‘non-native speakers’ are concerned. And it was fantastic that they took on this topic right at the very start of the conference, which unconventionally opened with a panel discussion, rather than a plenary, on the topic of what makes an effective English teacher. This I think was a great and very much needed departure from the constant comparisons between ‘native’ and ‘non-native speakers’ that to my mind often miss the point, mostly because they focus on something that has nothing to do with being a good or a bad teacher.

It was also great that almost half of the audience were school directors as these are the people who can actually promote equal opportunities and help us tackle native speakerism. I do hope that at least some of them were convinced by the arguments the panelists presented.

You can see some of the highlights from the conference in this video.

But the absolute highlight of the conference for me personally was to find out that at the board meeting preceding the conference, FECEI members decided to approve a public statement against discriminatory recruitment policies in ELT. You can find out more about it here. This is the full statement:

In compliance with Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, FECEI (the National Federation of Private Language Schools in Spain) stands in opposition to discrimination against teachers on the basis of their nationality in terms of hiring, promotion, recruitment for jobs, or employment conditions.

With respect to the common, long-standing notion, unsupported by research, that a certain ethnicity, accent, or national background gives a person an advantage as a language teacher, FECEI firmly believes that all teachers should be evaluated and valued solely on the basis of their teaching competence, teaching experience, formal education and linguistic expertise. Therefore, FECEI does not condone job announcements that specify “native” as a requirement.

This is a fantastic step forward! Hats off to everyone at FECEI who contributed to do this and made this important statement a reality.

Has your local teaching association issued a similar statement? Could you encourage them to do so?

Let us know in the comments section.


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Susan Holden
Guest
Susan Holden

Good to see this. It echoes the statements by both TESOL France and TESOL Spain – as quoted on the final page of Peter Medgyes ‘The Non-Native Teacher’ (Swan Communication 2017). I have also found a lot of interest in the topic – most of it thoughtful – at the various discussions/debates I have been doing at conference in the last 18 months in Europe and Latin America. My own feeling is that this discussion has to extend to parents (especially those enrolling young children in language institutes) and to employers. And the focus should be on ‘what makes a… Read more »

Marek Kiczkowiak
Admin

Thanks for your comment, Susan
I completely agree that the more discussion, the better. And it should definitely extend to parents and students. Schools have a big role to play there educating the market.
Talking to recruiters is also important. That’s why it was great to see so many at FECEI conference. It was the perfect event to address this issue

Shannon
Guest
Shannon

Great news! One of my best French teachers was Hungarian, so I’ve always been puzzled by the prejudice, and I’ve been even more puzzled since I started training teachers in a program that works with both native and non-native speakers of English. In Canada’s settlement language community, we frankly can’t afford to turn away qualified teachers who are non-native speakers, and we find them to be a great asset to settlement communities in adult and K-12 schools because they understand the settlement experience in ways that most Canadian-born teachers cannot. This doesn’t mean there are no prejudices, but in most… Read more »

Mauricio Buitrago
Guest
Mauricio Buitrago

Hello Marek. Here in my country, Colombia, we are far from getting something you described in your post. Even though Colombian teachers have good job opprtunities here, many schools, universities and most of language institutes prioritize hiring NESTs regardless their teaching qualifications instead of a professional Colombian EFL teacher. It can even be worse, they hire NNESTs from European and Asian countries just because they don’t “look” Colombian. Directors and principals don’t know/care much about this issue, and they simply choose carpenters, musicians, economists and backpackers as English arguing that customers/students find them potentailly more effective for the learning process.… Read more »

Mike Casey
Guest
Mike Casey

Hi, Mauricio. What skills would you say a Columbian NNEST needs to be able to be called a professional teacher?

Mike Casey
Guest
Mike Casey

A good move in general, but what might the negative effects be on language providers? And will clients be forced to accept such a move?

Mike Casey
Guest
Mike Casey

Did they also agree to fight the supposed nativespeakerism of providing native speaker models to students? If so, what do they plan to replace it by?

DebbieInChina
Guest
DebbieInChina

It would be lovely if China could do the same across the board, but sadly in my province (Guangdong), to get a working Z visa and then a work permit, you must have a passport from one of a small handful of countries considered to be ‘native’ English countries. It does include the obvious ones, and South Africa, but not India or Pakistan, Nigeria, Ghana or any other country in which English is a national language (along with others). It is sad, because any 21 year old graduate with a BA in anything and a TEFL (even an online one)… Read more »

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