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Tag Archives: TESOL France

Qualification required: Native English speaker

Join our team of friendly gynecologists! If you’re female, we’re looking for people like you! A degree in medicine is preferred, but not required. Apply today and begin a new rewarding career!

Let’s hope we will never see job ads like that in the medical field. No one in their right mind would think that just being female will make you a good gynecologist.  So why do so many TEFL job ad writers think being a native speaker makes you a good teacher? Seriously. In the above announcement replace “gynecologists”, “female”, and “medicine” with “teachers”, “native speaker”, and “teaching English” and you’ve got the meat of far too many ELT job announcements.

This is a serious issue in our field, generally not among the teachers themselves (thankfully!) but among the people recruiting the teachers (and hence paying the salaries). For some reason recruiters, especially in private language-training centers, have come to confuse teaching qualifications and birth certificates. This is one of the biggest shames in our field if you ask me because being a native speaker is NOT a sign of one’s ability to teach the language well. It is not even a guarantee that the (native) English taught will correspond to the English that will be encountered outside of the classroom. I, for example, am American but the vast majority of my trainees don’t do business with Americans. They use English with Chinese, German, Indian, Scottish, and Brazilian suppliers and colleagues. My American-ness is not of any added value here. I don’t know much about those countries’ business cultures, I don’t speak with any accent other than my own American accent and my native English certainly differs from that of a Scot or an Indian. So why is it fair that I would likely be preferred over a Polish or Hungarian EFL teacher with similar qualifications? It isn’t fair. Period.

Nowadays, native speakers no longer are the majority users of English. So why do recruiters specifically seek out native speakers over non-natives with equal qualifications? To be honest, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s a way for recruiters’ to hide their own lack of knowledge of the field’s teaching qualifications. Between the CELTA, DELTA, Trinity DipTESOL, M.A.s in TESOL, and the whole gamut of sketchy “TEFL certifications” out there it’s no wonder that it’s just easier to slap “seeking qualified native speaker” on a job ad and leave it at that. The lack of clear professional qualifications within our field has led to an ersatz discriminatory qualification of “native speaker.”

I just ran a quick search for “TEFL job ads” and clicked on a few random ones that were posted on a few popular ELT sites. Here are some of the requirements I found (get ready to cringe):

  • Native-level intonation, accent, and pronunciation  (Which native accent?)
  • Requirements: teaching experience, degree in any field, British, American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, Irish, South African or South American Passport holders (what a clever way of avoiding saying “native speaker”. At least it technically leaves the door open to dual citizens!)
  • We are looking for CELTA / TEFL qualified native English teachers to join our team
  • We are looking for native speakers of English to join our friendly teams
  • Qualifications required: Native English Speaker, some knowledge of Spanish

Of course some of the ads from which these examples are taken also mentioned teaching experience and/or teaching diplomas so at least they’re not stopping at “native speaker” as the only qualification. It’s the fact that “native speaker” is included as a qualification that irks me. Sure, arguments can be made that native speakers bring their cultural background and that they have intimate knowledge of their home culture. Sure but so do non-native speakers and if the learner is a French guy who is going to work mostly with Chinese businesspeople, what use–culturally speaking–is a teacher from England?

And I’m not claiming that ONLY teachers with recognized certifications or diplomas make good teachers. There are plenty of good teachers who got to where they are through experience, reflective practice, and participating in continuous professional development opportunities such as conferences, workshops, and webinars. It’s a damn shame that these people may automatically have their CV sent to the bin (or is that “have their resumé sent to the trash can”?) because they weren’t born in the right country.

TESOL France recently issued a message to employers who send announcements out on their Jobs List discouraging them from using “native speaker” in their announcements, explaining that trained, professional non-native teachers can be just as effective (if not more so) than native speaker teachers. This measure was unanimously applauded by the ELT teaching community on Facebook (which is rich in both native and non-native speakers 🙂 I hope other organizations who provide job ad services also practice this, even if they don’t yet have a formal statement on the issue. We as teachers can also be stewards for fair recruitment policies by addressing the issue with our hiring managers, by encouraging our schools/companies to seek out high-quality teachers who can show proof of their training and/or development, and by explaining why this is more important than the hollow requirement that one be a native speaker to teach a language.

I do have an idea as to why “native speaker” has wrongfully come to be seen as a qualification. It follows in the footsteps of why use of learners’ L1 became a taboo for much of the 20th century. But that, my friends, is for the next blog post!

P.S. There was a great post written recently on this same subject by Marek Kiczkowiak on his blog teflreflections.blogspot.nl. I see that it has been removed because it’s awaiting publication in the TESOL newsletter and in the Winter 2015 edition of the TESOL France magazine “Teaching Times”, which is fantastic. He says a link to the article will be published on his blog at a later date, but in the meantime, you can still read the many comments on the original post.

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The Big Picture: Teaching Grammar Holistically and Visually

Here you can download the explanations on how to do the activities I demonstrated during my talk titled “The Big Picture: Teaching Grammar Holistically and Visually.” The documents contain a little background info on each activity, the materials needed, step-by-step instructions, plus ways of adapting the activities to one-on-one or group lessons.

Click here to download activity procedures for “The Big Picture – Teaching Grammar Holistically and Visually” by Christina Rebuffet-Broadus

So far, I’ve given this talk at:

TESOL France Grenoble, Oct. 12, 2013

IATEFL Poland, Lodz, Sept. 28-30, 2013

If you have any suggestions about the activities or just want to tell us about how they went in your classroom, please do so! I’d love to hear from you.

Want more? Click here for 7 reasons to use Cuisenaire rods in the Language Classroom

 
 

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Liverpool calling: Report from Associate’s Day at the 2013 IATEFL conference

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Support WMIS!

 

Associations need to associate. That was the underlying message from today’s Associate’s Day event at the IATEFL conference in Liverpool . As the representative of TESOL France, I attended the all-day session with two other TESOL France representatives: president Debbie West and vice-president Jane Ryder.

Throughout the day, attendees got tips and inspirational stories on how to look beyond the borders of their own teaching association (TA) to join forces with neighboring TAs. Kati Tama of IATEFL Hungary showed us how they use http://sites.google.com to create an intranet site for their TA to better curate information and announcements relevant to their members. She  also presented a virtual conference model to really bring virtual conferences to life for attendees at the online satellite events. For example, this week, members of IATEFL Hungary will enjoy pre-conference events, streamed videos from Liverpool, and a post-conference party complete with a sing-along of Beatles songs. This type of online viewing event can really help create the energy of being there in person for motivated teachers who for some reason or another can’t attend events in person.

Representatives from TAs in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka shared stories of how they worked together to coordinate Peer Support Reviews, which was described as “looking critically at what our TA friends are doing to encourage best practice.” The TESOL France delegation (and many other attendees, I’m sure) were beyond impressed with how much these awesome TAs had achieved despite obvious challenges they must deal with in these countries. It really hit home when the Pakistani delegate told us “Once, we did only have four people come to our event because of bombings in the city.” The teachers in these countries, especially their TA members, deserve a huge amount of respect. Suddenly problems common to classrooms typical of classrooms in the developed world—late students, technology failure, noise next door—seemed extremely trite.

One important session of the day was devoted to brainstorming on ways to improve IATEFL’s Wider Membership Scheme (WMS) and Wider Membership Individual Scheme (WMIS). These programs give teachers in under-funded countries the opportunity to join IATEFL and attend the conference at subsidised rates. Challenges obviously exist in such programs, as there always seems to be more demand than money, but that’s why the Associates dedicated part of the day to collecting ideas on how to make the program as efficient as possible.

Attendees in Liverpool can do their part to reach out to their fellow teachers in countries where funds are all too rare by purchasing a WMIS badge at the registration counter with a £2 donation (of course larger donations are also accepted!)

 

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Talking Dogme at TESOL France Lyon

Just got back from doing my first teacher-fronted presentation (you know, where you stand in front of a room full of people staring at you, the PowerPoint projector glaring in your face). It was TESOL France Lyon’s inaugural event and I was there in the name of Dogme…

The crowd wasn’t huge, around 15 people or so, which:

1) made it less frightening and

2) meant we could actually do a demo Dogme lesson because you guessed it—I presented the experimental semester.

Only a few people in the room had heard of Dogme and fewer knew what it was. Sonia, another speaker of the day came up with a pretty good summary. Something like “not planning too much what you’re going to do, but taking what students say and building a lesson around it, based on what needs to be worked on.” Sounded like a good start

So on we went through a bit of student feedback from their time with Dogme, the background of the movement or the Danish connection as I call it, and some key components of the approach:

  • Conversation Interaction-driven
  • Materials-light (not necessarily mats-free!)
  • Focused on emergent learner language

I also talked about POST-planning lessons as a sort of bird killer (as in “kill 2 birds with one stone”—nothing “afowl” of course!) It keeps a record of what was done in class in case another teacher needs to sub for you one day and helps you track what’s actually been done rather than just what you had planned to do. Plus it provides a chance to reflect on how the lesson went, what worked, and how to build on that.

Maybe the best part though was actually going through a demo Dogme lesson with fellow teachers. We did an accelerated, condensed lesson, talked about how it unfolded,  then brainstormed how it could have gone differently. The demo lesson was heavily inspired by the first half of Lesson 7 and suggested alternatives looked a bit like this:

From feedback I got, they really enjoyed this part because it offered the opportunity to see what the lesson looked like and how it could have gone in alternative directions, depending on the interests of a particular group of students.

The participants asked lots of stimulating questions, leading to lively discussion (and thankfully no one just wanted to pick a verbal fight—I was a bit nervous about that, I must admit!)

Two questions came up for which I didn’t have answers, so fellow Dogmeticians, I need your help here!

  • (How) could you do Dogme with an ESP class or an exam prep class like a TOEIC class?
  • What suggestions do you have for doing Dogme with 5-year olds?

I’ve done non-Dogme TOEIC prep and kids aren’t really my thing, but if anyone has any responses to these questions, I’m all ears and will transmit the answers to the people who asked them (crediting you, of course!)

Finally, a touch of advice for anyone thinking about presenting for the first time—GO FOR IT!!

More to come on that subject, though!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on June 2, 2012 in Dogme

 

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