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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