It is often encouraging to see how far we have come in terms of equal opportunities regardless of a candidate’s place of birth or first language. For example, I have a number of friends teaching English in Australia even though English is not their first language.
It is encouraging because despite Australia being a country where English is spoken as a home language in a large percentage of homes, the ELICOS (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students) industry is open to employing anyone that has suitable English Proficiency and the right qualifications. While I agree that there is still work to be done in terms of educating agents and students about what makes a good ESL teacher, there is a more pressing issue in other countries.
There are still several countries where the law requires visa applicants to be from a very select number of countries. While there are often ways around this, for example, employing someone to teach German if they are from Germany, but actually letting them teach English, or employing someone as a tech consultant for a school, but they actually teach, this is not possible for a very large percentage of applicants from countries that do not appear on the ‘list.’ In the last month, I have received applications from three European teachers, all with CELTA plus experience and one with a master’s degree, only to have to inform them that according to the Taiwanese employment law, we are unable to hire them.
It is frustrating and infuriating that I have to turn down candidates who would be a perfect fit for the vacancy just because of their country of origin.
However, we might be able to completely change this
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A few months ago, I became part of a think tank aiming to improve the level of English education in Taiwan and to assist with Taiwan’s vision of having English as an official language to increase global competitiveness. This means I have had the opportunity to meet with several politicians and quite a few of them agree that the law needs to be adjusted.
We have proposed the following:
- CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL or above (PGCE, Bachelor of Education, MA etc) regardless of the country where it was taken. If it is an initial qualification like CELTA, we want it to be externally moderated with teaching practice.
- A proficiency test showing English ability at a solid C1 (IELTS 7 or equivalent, but only accepting IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, or Cambridge Upper Main Suite).
This will bring us in line with other progressive countries. For example, in Australia, you need CELTA or above to teach in ELICOS, and IELTS 7 to qualify for a skills migration visa. So, it is very similar to what we are suggesting.
The politicians willing to present this to the education committee have asked us for the laws in countries where this level of employment equity exists, and this is the part where I can do with some assistance. I realise the laws are complex and you might need to compare both the industry regulation and the visa laws to understand what is required, but as can be seen above with the Australian regulations, it can be fairly simple to make the comparison if you know where to look.
Thus, my request for information is this:
- If the country where you are currently employed has laws in place that clearly indicate that being a ‘native speaker’ is not a legal requirement for a work permit or work visa, could you send me those laws so I can use them in my presentation to the committee members.
- Alternatively, could you let me know what the requirements for a skills migration visa are?
It will greatly enhance our chances of getting this to a vote in the legislature.
I realise that it is complex and one might need to look at two or three laws to get the whole picture, but it is a very time consuming exercise for me and I will appreciate help form the TEFL Equity Advocates & Academy community.
So if you can help, please leave a comment below this post. With tons of thanks in advance.
PS. This is done in my personal capacity and not related to my employer or any other organization I am a part of.
Gerhard has been teaching in Asia for almost 20 years and currently lives in Taipei, Taiwan with his wife and three children. He has worked as Teacher, Teacher Trainer, Academic Manager, and Director of Studies. He has just started his doctorate with a focus on organizational leadership.