Please fill out the form below if you would like to post a comment on this article:
11/16/2023 - TICA
Very candid and informative
08/16/2021 - Mel
Thank you for this article. I am also from Zimbabwe highly educated with a PGDE in Education a Master's Degree and I must say I do get baffled at the whole Native or Non-Native speakers and you find that some schools would rather employ a native passive speaker with no qualifications than a passionate qualified teacher that will improve learning experience of students all on the basis of whether a teacher is native or Non-Native. Recruiters need to be more educated on this and be professional. If anything a non native is better inspiration and proof that English learners can also make it and improve their English proficiency levels. What is the point of having a global community when globalization and internationalism excludes other countries and limits them only to six countries?
07/03/2020 - J
Thank you for this article. I find it baffling that whole native English speaker requirement...
06/30/2020 - Tahseen
Although I have been taught by native English people since reception and do pass as a native speaker, I would like to share a fact with you.
If you are from Yorkshire you have to listen to their accent which is very different from those who live in Liverpool, Ireland or Scottland !
So even if we live in UK the sound of dialect is so different that it takes a while to get used to it.
I think its becomes synonymous with the looks if the person which is associated with the english that is spoken!!!
06/11/2020 - Matt
You missed one little point on your analysis. All the big 5 countries that get the tag of ‘native speaker passports’ are WHITE! Except South Africa, but that only the demography of the land. For all intents and purposes, South Africa is a white country. These Anglo Saxon counties wield their influence far and wide and international education is no exception.
When a Chinese, Korean or Indian parents wants a native speaker, they mean they want White teachers, Western teachers, western qualifications are held in grey esteem in many Asian countries. It is nothing but neo-colonialism. And white Heads and School admins have found it convenient to maintain the status quo - hire and promote their own.
I’m glad that international education leaders, recruiters, schools are being asked to introspect.
06/08/2020 - Daniel
You are absolutely correct about this, Francis. Is it partly a reflection of the Eurocentricity and (north-) 'american-ness' of international education? Is it partly a reflection of the flawed nature (content) of professional development institutes that drum a white, Eurocentric/North-American beat into the heads of aspiring administrators? Does it partly reflect the business model that is used to direct or manage so many international schools these days, with HR departments holding a business perspective rather than an education perspective? Is it partly linked to the nepotism that clearly exists in recruitment generally and among education administrators specifically? Of course, it is down to all of these, and more. Sadly, it is also down to wilful ignorance as most (but thankfully not all) recruiters refuse to question their own prejudices let alone make an effort to explore the qualities of a candidate who cannot be easily pigeon-holed. Mind you, the 'elephant in the room' (mentioned also in another TIE article) is clearly racism. It's not only skin-colour racism but also academic-intellectual 'racism' because if your degree, education, training does not originate in one of these aforementioned nations (the ones that you identify in your first paragraph), then you cannot possibly be properly educated and you are clearly not suitable for this exalted institution. Change is needed in recruitment practices and so we must continue to highlight these flaws so that talented individuals can indeed be allowed to enrich the classrooms of schools worldwide.
05/29/2020 - Llm
This is so well written! I wish there would be an organization that we could bring this up with. It makes me sick when I sit through assemblies where the head of school talks about international mindedness and then I take a walk down the halls of the school only to see the names on the classroom doors: all teachers are native English speakers and all TAs are locals. What are the children to understand of that? What are the local children supposed to feel? That if you are not a native english speaker you are not good enough to be successful in life? It sure feels like it ...
05/13/2020 - T.I
Well argued article my brother
05/12/2020 - Eras
Well observed brother.I have noticed this native issue on most international schools' job adverts.Something is very wrong for sure.South Africa qualifies on native English speakers on what basis??. It's so sad they assert that native English language speakers automatically happen to be competent educators.It's high time international schools become international in their mindsets!
05/12/2020 - svk
I've been on this situation too many times.
I've come to the conclusion that because the people recruiting don't know enough English to judge how good the person applying for a job is, using this "native English" criterion makes it easy for them to select (even if it's blindly). It's also easier for them to market an NES teacher to parents. Instead of saying "we have good, qualified teachers", they just say "we have NES" and leave it to the parents (who probably don't know better) to figure it out.
And finally, just human psychology (something that can be unlearned). If you went to a Thai restaurant and were told that the chef was Thai, you would unconsciously assume that the food they served was authentic, when in fact, the chef might not have been a cook at all back home.
05/12/2020 - Tee
It was never about being native speaker
Let’s not fool ourselves
05/12/2020 - Knowmore Mhasho
This is a true masterpiece. I agree with you and it’s so sad how parents are led to buy into the English school rhetoric. Speaking as a parent and a recruiter I have noticed that this is just a psychological game plan. As a recruiter when it comes to hiring a competent professional for any role, it’s unfortunate that l don’t consider the school you have learnt or if you are coming from an English speaking school or not. It’s all about your competence and attitude that counts more. Thank you Francis. This is an eye opener.
05/12/2020 - Linda
Excellent article on a very troubling issue. It's ironic that international schools, of all places, often have such a narrow range of eligibility for teaching positions. There is huge value to having linguistic, national and cultural diversity among the faculty. The notion that only passport holders from dominant western countries are qualified to teach is insulting and insular.
05/12/2020 - uno
Great article! People speak or write a taught language to a very high standard than they do their mother tongue. If someone is learning, say French for example, they will probably listen to French news a lot on France '24, therefore, will speak media standard French... This obsession with native speakers is absolutely misplaced. I have seen native speakers that struggle to write correct grammar and spelling for their language. I have seen meating instead of meeting, two instead of too.
05/12/2020 - Preeti
Thank you for this. This perspective needs to be repeated over and over again. We are in 2020 and the exact same problems of 'native vs. non-natives' are thriving in international school recruitment policies. It's a shame that the catering of international schools to discriminating policies and perspectives be it parents or administrators continues to create disparity. Thanks to all those educators out there that work hard towards bridging this divide.
05/09/2020 - Jame
I completely agree with the author. I was teaching in Asia for 5 years and in those countries and even in Middle East,they judge you by your appearances even if you speak native English. So you should not fear to say it is going to be appearance based criteria.
There are many top students in North American universities who are not native English speakers but qualified in every standard of measurements.
I think one should not worry about those recruiters who are trying to make money by appeasing some schools who believe in Native language speakers. Though I believe speaking English properly is very important, there are many native English speakers who do not know correct grammar. Sometimes those who work hard to learn the language are better than them in teaching English. The fact is I saw many teachers from Africa who teaches at British Schools because they are qualified in the subjects they teach such as Math and Physics. Some schools have no choice but they will be hire those teachers when they could not find native English Teachers. I have been turned out by many administrators because I have accent as I speak more than four languages. However, I have never been unemployed and actually I always end up being hired and earn much higher salary than those who judge me with my accent without even knowing my qualifications.
So, I don't really worry about those recruiters as there are always others who will hire teacher who are non-"native English Speakers".
05/07/2020 - Dan Slevin
This is an issue that also feel strongly about and am glad you have raised. English is the language of the world and not the preserve of those born into places where it is the state language. If fact, people from places where English is not the first language are likely to be multi-lingual and very effective communicators.
As a school leader, when interviewing, country of origin matters not to me however their ability to communicate and answer intelligently through interview does. If someone from a non-English country can demonstrate that they have the better knowledge and skills in an English-medium interview, then they deserve the job - not somebody who is less strong but with a golden passport.