How to Reply to Job Ads for Native Speakers Only and Get a Job as a Non-Native Speaker

A few years back something happened that completely changed my career.

At the time I was working for a very well-known language school chain; I applied for a job in another country within that same chain and was openly told that they wouldn’t hire me because I was a ‘non-native speaker’.

Probably sounds familiar to many of you who are ‘non-native speakers’. Perhaps you’ve been in similar situations.

It’s happened to me on numerous occasions since. You’re experienced. You’re qualified. You’ve got all the necessary skills.

But then you get a reply saying: sorry, we only hire ‘native speakers’.

When you get a reply like this, you’ve got two options:

1. You cry out in anger and despair, but unwillingly move on looking for luck somewhere else.

2. You skip the crying out part and do something about it.

OK, but what do you do? How do you persuade the school to offer you the job even though they only want to hire ‘native speakers’?

You write back to them.

Plain and simple.

Well, it’s only plain and simple if you know HOW to go about it. When it happened to me for the first time, I had no clue.

But since then, I’ve developed an email template that has worked wonders time and time again.

It’s taken me from: no, sorry, we only hire ‘native speakers’…

to: we’d love to invite you for an interview.

If you’re like: OMG, I soooooo much need an email like this, then I’m going to share with you the exact template (if you’re impatient and want it now, just scroll below).

But first, here’s a step-by-step breakdown of what you should say as a ‘non-native speaker’ if you want to have any chances of getting hired when replying to a job ad for ‘native speakers’ only:

  1. Start off on a friendly, non-confrontational note (e.g. I understand that in some places it might be common practice to advertise for ‘native speakers’ only.)
  2. Draw attention to the increasing importance of equal opportunities in ELT (e.g. However, you might be aware of the growing debate about such policies, and a growing concern in ELT for equal employment opportunities for both ‘native’ and ‘non-native speakers’.)
  3. Remove the recruiter’s biggest worry – student demand for ‘native speakers’ (e.g. research actually shows that learners value several other skills and characteristics, such as creativity, ability to motivate students, more highly in teachers than their ‘nativeness’.
  4. Show the benefits of employing you (e.g. It can also be very motivating to learn from a teacher who has managed to become proficient in the language.)
  5. If in the EU, point out recruiting ‘native speakers’ only is against EU regulations (e.g. in 2001 the EU  has stated that…). See here for specific EU rulings on this.
  6. Mention that many renown professionals (e.g. David Crystal) and teaching associations (e.g. TESOL Spain) in the ELT community have spoken out against such job ads (e.g. many teaching associations, such as TESOL International or IATEFL, have issued position statements against it.)
  7. Ask them to reconsider you for the position (e.g. Bearing this in mind, I was wondering if you might reconsider your initial requirements, and accept applications from ‘non-native speakers’.)

Don’t forget to keep the entire email on a polite tone. While you might be angry and frustrated, this is only going to further alienate the recruiter.

Would love to hear whether you found the tips here useful, so give me a shout in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
To your success!
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1 year ago

It help me a lot, thanks !

Marcia Marques
Marcia Marques
1 year ago

Thank you so much for your help with this matter!

Juliet Munden
1 year ago

Hi, Thank you for this very interesting post. I am a textbook writer for English in teacher education in Norway. One of the chapters in a book I am currently revising is about pronunciation, and in that chapter I argue against native-speakerism. I would like to quote your seven points, and am writing to ask your permission to do so. I would of course credit TEFL equity advocates, and provide the website reference for my readers.

Juliet Munden
1 year ago

Thank you very much, that will be very useful to Norwgian students. Thank you too for the post about pronunciation and native speakerism, which also has an interesting comment collection. I would be happy to send you the chapter as a pdf when it has been through the editorial process. So October/November ish. I would need an email address to send it to, I think.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

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