Write back

The candidate must be a ‘native speaker’. Only ‘native speakers’ should apply. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of ELT job ads with similar language. According to various studies, about 75% of ELT posts advertised on the Internet is for ‘native speakers’ only. So what do we do about it?

Well, we can write back. And explain why such ads are discriminatory. And hopefully encourage the employer to accept ‘non-native speaker’ candidates too.

Kathrine Bilsborough gives some really insightful tips on replying to such ads in this article. She also explains why it is important we do write back whenever we see such ads. And it is also really important that ‘native speakers’ comment and reply to such ads. After all, the stereotypes and prejudices affect all of us in this profession. And we need to fight them together. Adam Beale, a ‘native speaker, in this post, for example, explains why he turned down a job offer from a recruiter who highlighted in his email that he would only consider ‘native speakers’ for the job. I also wrote about how such emails can make a difference, even leading to an actual change in recruitment policies of a given school or job board.

So below is a sample email you could send to a recruiter who advertises for ‘native speakers’ only. Feel free to copy and paste it, and if you have any suggestions how to change/improve it, get in touch. You can also check out Katherine’s and Adam’s post I mentioned above for similar letter templates.

If you decide to send it to a recruiter, let me know how it goes. If the reply is positive, we could perhaps add the school to the Hall of Fame 🙂

Dear __________,

I am writing in reply to your recent job ad for English teachers. I understand that in some places it might e common practice to advertise for ‘native speakers’ only. 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’.

For example, as far as students’ attitudes are concerned, most research actually shows that learners value several other skills and characteristics (e.g. creativity, ability to motivate students) more highly in teachers than their ‘nativeness’. Various studies also show that students appreciate the qualities and skills ‘non-native speaker’ teachers bring into the classroom, and would ideally like to be taught by both ‘native’ and ‘non-native speakers’.

In addition, since the vast majority of them will use English as a lingua franca – most likely with other ‘non-native speakers’ – it seems to me that exposing them to proficient ‘non-native speakers’ can foster students’ awareness of the global nature of English. It can also be very motivating to learn from a teacher who has managed to become proficient in the language. This experience of having learnt English gives you invaluable insights into how the language works, what the potential problems and difficulties are, and how these can be overcome, as well as helping you better empathise with students.

I would also like to point out that advertising for ‘native speakers’ only is considered discriminatory in various countries, and many teaching associations, such as TESOL International or IATEFL, have issued position statements against it. Many renown ELT professionals and scholars such as Jeremy Harmer, David Crystal, Jennifer Jenkins or Scott Thornbury have also positioned themselves against such recruitment policies, since there is absolutely no evidence that being a ‘native speaker’ makes you a better teacher.

Bearing this in mind, I was wondering if you might reconsider your initial requirements, and accept applications from ‘non-native speakers’.

I am looking forward to hearing back from you.

Best regards,