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Friday 5 September 2014


July 18, 2014
Up to 70 per cent of all jobs advertised on are for native English speaking teachers. Photo by Flazingo Photos on Flickr under Creative Commons licence.

p to 70 per cent of all jobs advertised on are for native English speaking teachers. Photo by Flazingo Photos on Flickr under Creative Commons licence.

There are perceptions that native speakers of English make better English language teachers. Marek Kiczkowiak, winner of the British Council's Teaching English blog award, argues that those perceptions need to change.

Have you looked for an English teaching job recently? If you're a Native English Speaker Teacher (NEST) then you'll have seen an abundance of teaching opportunities out there. But for a non-native English Speaker Teacher (NNEST), it's a different story.
Up to 70 per cent of all jobs advertised on – the biggest job search engine for English teachers – are for NESTs (yes, I have counted). And in some countries such as Korea it's even worse – almost all recruiters will reject any application that doesn't say English native speaker on it.
If you start questioning these practices, you are likely to hear one or all of the following excuses:
1. Students prefer NESTs
2. Students need NESTs to learn 'good' English
3. Students need NESTs to understand 'the culture'
4. NESTs are better for public relations
While it is beyond the scope of this short article to fully debunk all the above, I would like to briefly outline here why these arguments are flawed.
1: The first argument gets repeated like a mantra and has become so deeply ingrained that few attempt to question its validity. Yet, I have never seen a single study that would give it even the slightest backing. On the other hand, I have seen many which confirm that students value traits which have nothing to do with 'nativeness', such as being respectful, a good communicator, helpful, well prepared, organised, clear-voiced, and hard working. Other studies show that students do not have a clear preference for either group. It seems then that it is the recruiters, not the students, who want native speakers.
2: On the second point, I believe it's a myth that only NESTs can provide a good language model. What I find troubling is that many in the profession assume language proficiency to be tantamount to being a good teacher, trivialising many other important factors such as experience, qualifications and personality. While proficiency might be a necessity – and schools should ensure that both the prospective native and non–native teachers can provide a clear and intelligible language model – proficiency by itself should not be treated as the deciding factor that makes or breaks a teacher. Successful teaching is so much more! As David Crystal put it in an interview for TEFL Equity Advocates: 'All sorts of people are fluent, but only a tiny proportion of them are sufficiently aware of the structure of the language that they know how to teach it.' So if recruiters care about students' progress, I suggest taking an objective and balanced view when hiring teachers, and rejecting the notion that nativeness is equal to teaching ability.
3: As for the third argument, most people will agree that language and culture are inextricably connected. But does a 'native English speaker culture' exist? I dare say it doesn't. After all, English is an official language in more than 60 sovereign states. English is not owned by the English or the Americans, even if it's convenient to think so. But as Hugh Dellar notes, even if we look at one country in particular, 'there is very clearly no such thing as "British culture" in any monolithic sense'. As native speakers, we should have the humility to acknowledge that 'no native speakers have experience, or understand all aspects of the culture to which they belong' (David Crystal).
4: Finally, the almighty and 'untouchable' market demand. Show me the evidence, I say. Until then, I maintain that a much better marketing strategy is to hire the best teachers, chosen carefully based on qualifications, experience and demonstrable language proficiency, rather than on their mother tongue. We are not slaves of the market. We can influence and shape it. As Henry Ford once said: 'If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have told me: faster horses'.
Perhaps most significant of all, being a NNEST might actually give you certain advantages as a teacher. For example, you can better anticipate students' problems, serve as a successful learning model or understand how the learners feel. Actually, in a recent post James Taylor went as far as wishing he were a non–native speaker.
However, I feel that the question Peter Medgyes asks is his article: 'Native or non–native: who's worth more?' misses the point slightly. As Michael Griffin has shown, the answer is neither. Both groups can make equally good or bad teachers. It's all down to the factors I've been talking about here: personal traits, qualifications, experience and demonstrable language proficiency. Your mother tongue, place of birth, sexual orientation, height, gender or skin colour are all equally irrelevant.
So why does this obsession with 'nativeness' refuse to go away? Because for years the English language teaching (ELT) industry told students that only NESTs could teach them 'good' English, that NESTs were the panacea for all their language ills. But let's be blunt and have the courage to acknowledge that the industry encouraged a falsehood which many of us chose to turn a blind eye to while others assumed they could do nothing. I feel this needs to change.
The good news is that positive changes are already taking place. TESOL France has issued a public letter condemning the discrimination of NNESTs. Some of the most renowned ELT professionals such as Jeremy Harmer and Scott Thornbury, as well as organisations such as the British Council Teaching English team have already expressed their strong support for the TEFL Equity Advocates campaign I started, which fights for equal professional opportunities for native and non–native teachers.
And you can help bring about the change too in numerous ways that were outlined here. So stand up, speak out and join the movement.

Read more posts from our blog award winners, join our Teaching English Facebook community for further tips, resources and discussions or see our offer for teachers.
Photo by Falzingo Photos on Flickr under Creative Commons licence.
Posted on July 18, 2014 by Marek Kiczkowiak
Marek Kiczkowiak


Total 41 CommentsAdd your comment

TEFL Equity Advocates on British Council blog | teflequityadvocates

Posted on July 18th, 2014Report abuse
[...] do comment as I would love to hear what your thoughts on the matter are. You can read the post here. Share this:TwitterFacebookGoogleGoogle+ Marek KiczkowiakLike this:Like [...]

Michael Pazinas

Posted on July 18th, 2014Report abuse
Thank you so much for this wonderful post Marek. I agree with you entirely. I would go so far as saying that we need to eradicate the terms "native" and "non native" altogether! They are, as you say, irrelevant 'factors' in a teacher. Prof. Jenkins, in her book, The Phonology of English as an International Language (2000) makes a case for this as does Kramsch cited by Braine, Non-Native Educators in English Language Teaching (1999). It is truly frustrating to see job posts time and time again asking for native speaker teachers.
I will certainly be offering my support for the TEFL Equity Advocates Campaign.
Thank you once again!

Discrimination in ELT | Minh ELT

Posted on July 19th, 2014Report abuse
[...] is a small movement within the industry to fix discrimination: see… and , but their cries will probably fall on deaf ears. The people [...]

Torn Halves

Posted on July 19th, 2014Report abuse
Perhaps a distinction needs to be drawn here between grounds that particular employers might have for employing native-speaker teachers, and reasons why a disproportionate number of jobs get given to native-speakers (or a disproportionate number of the higher-paying jobs). It is possible that absolutely every employer agrees with you that there are no good grounds, and yet the discrimination continues because the underlying reasons/causes are still in place.
Perhaps the chief underlying cause is that EFL (or English as a lingua franca) has not managed to dissociate itself from a phenomenon that might be called empire. EFL is still not a purely international language. British English is still held up in many places as a standard to be aimed at, instead of taking the international English sustained by non-native speakers as the standard for foreign learners. The British Council, of course, is in an advantageous position because of that legacy, and doubtless it is institutionally committed to doing what it can to maintain the imperial perception that British is best (which means: the British native speaker is best).
The really difficult question is whether in a world dominated by imperial institutions with an Anglophone leadership (the IMF, the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation, NATO, Hollywood, Coca Cola, Levis, Nike, etc., etc.) it is possible for English as a foreign language to function independently of that global empire. If not, our prediction is that the campaign to end discrimination in ELT will come up against a brick wall.

Maha Hassan

Posted on July 19th, 2014Report abuse
Marek well said, well nailed. Hope more people will join the ride!!??!

Does it matter if your teacher is "native"? | Speak English today!..

Posted on July 19th, 2014Report abuse
[...] was just reading an interesting article by Marek Kiczkowiak on his TEFL equity advocates site where he bemoans the lack of jobs for non [...]

Malachy Scullion

Posted on July 20th, 2014Report abuse
Hear hear. Let's overturn this daft assumption about native/non-native teachers starting now.

David Harbinson

Posted on July 20th, 2014Report abuse
Hi Marek,
This is a good post and a great addition to the growing discussion of NEST and NNEST.
First, let me address the issue that you raise about Korea, since that is where I teach, and in fact the only place I've ever taught. You mention that recruiters reject applications if they are not from native speakers, and that is true. In fact, they will reject applications if they are not from someone who has a passport from one of the following 7 countries: US, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, Australia and South Africa. In addition, you need to have graduated from a university in these countries. Now, let's be fair, it's not the recruiters or even the schools that are making this stipulation – it's the Korean government. In order to teach English in Korea you need to obtain an E-2 visa, and the Korean government will only issue one to 'native speakers' from one of the 7 aforementioned countries. So if we're going to point fingers it really needs to be at the Korean government and their immigration policy.
I don't really know what my (adult) students think about this, but one thing I will say is that every now and again, when I introduce myself to (usually) a lower level learner and say I am from the UK, they think I'm saying Ukraine. Of course I correct my students, but for that short period where they think I am from Ukraine, there never seems to be any worry or complaints about me not being from a 'native English speaking' country.
I have also met a couple of teachers in Korea, who grew up speaking another language as their L1, but moved to one of the seven countries, obtained citizenship and were able to get a visa to teach English in Korea. One teacher, who was from Romania, originally got on very well with his school and students. Of course, this is just anecdotal, but I think it goes someway to supporting your point that learners don't only want NESTs.

Name*Emma Perna

Posted on July 20th, 2014Report abuse
It's not so much as being a native or non native speaker for what really counts is to be well prepared and have the ability to create empathy with students.

Name*Anila Surath

Posted on July 20th, 2014Report abuse
Being a NNEST I agree with you.You have highlighted all the attributes of a good teacher.I hope NNESTs have a better chance at becoming English language teachers the world over.

Name*Sian Meyrick

Posted on July 20th, 2014Report abuse
In my 25 years of TEFL teaching & translating all students, their parents and schools always prefer to employ native qualified teachers, it is what it is,in all language teaching not just English. Non-native English teachers invariably have a chip on their shoulder……..

ESOL tutor

Posted on July 20th, 2014Report abuse
I am an ESOL tutor. I agree that NNESTs can make brilliant teachers… often even better than NESTs. I know several. HOWEVER, I think these kinds of articles often pitch highly qualified/ experienced NNESTs against NESTs, which is a flawed approach. Of course it would be madness to hire the NEST in that case. But, theoretically, if two people were equally well qualified/ experienced etc, then surely it must be better to choose the NEST?? As a language learner myself, I would always choose a native rather than a non-native speaker all things being equal… which sort of also debunks your first point.

Name*Pramod Kumar Sah

Posted on July 21st, 2014Report abuse
Thank you a lot for this well-written article. I hope it would give some sense to those companies that strictly outline Native English Speaker as the first and a MUST requirement. I have also had a very sad experience – despite having double master's in English Language Teaching, I have struggled to find a teaching job. I have applied to many companies but my applications have not been proceeded because I an a NON NATIVE SPEAKER of English.


Posted on July 21st, 2014Report abuse
I can agree with a lot of what you have said, as in my experience of being the person doing the hiring (and I'm a native speaker) I've had to turn down many non-natives, partly due to the visa requirements (Some countries will only grant these 'specialist' visas based on certain requirements, using the fallacy that only Native speakers are qualtified enough to teach their own language). But I have made exceptions, one couple, whose English usage was equivalent to Native, and who had perfect RP pronunciation, turned out to be some of the best we ever had. And also had the misfortune to hire Native speakers who were enthusiastic enough, but really lacking in effective teaching skills.


Posted on July 21st, 2014Report abuse
i agree language is a skill and learning language is also a skill, so a skillful teacher can produce better result in a language class irrespective of NEST or NNEST.


Posted on July 23rd, 2014Report abuse
As a non native teacher of German, I am very relieved that one is not restricted to teaching only one's own native language and indeed, having gone through the experience of consciously acquiring another language, one is often more aware of the structure of that target language and better able to empathise with student difficulties. That being said, however, I, too, would naturally prefer to be taught by a native speaker, simply for the chance of acquiring a more 'authentic' accent. Having undergone further EFL training with a group of Polish teachers of English, I was struck by their expertise and enthusiasm, but at the same time aware, in one case uncomfortably, of their accent and the little mistakes they made, especially in written English. This, of course, was at an advanced level. T


Posted on July 24th, 2014Report abuse
If British Council strongly believes in equal opportunities for both native and non native teachers, why BC only hire native teachers in Colombia?


Posted on July 24th, 2014Report abuse
In Colombia, it is not viable to hire Colombian teachers if you are an institute like the BC. This is because clients are expecting to see a blonde haired, blue eyed person called Mary or Steve. Colombian students, those who are paying the kind of fees that the BC charge, do not want a Colombian teacher. If you are running a business you have to provide what the market demands.It is that simple.

Marek Kiczkowiak

Posted on July 24th, 2014Report abuse
Hi Michael,
Thanks for commenting.
I definitely agree that we should avoid using the 'n' words in professional contexts, such as job ads. While in a casual conversation they are useful terms, I think they're just to vague and imprecise to be used in job advertisments. 'What does it mean to be a native speaker?' is not such an easy question to answer. On top of that, as things currently stand, the term native is clearly used to discriminate teachers.

MArek KIczkowiak

Posted on July 24th, 2014Report abuse
Hi Luba,
A very good question. I wonder if somebody from BC (I don't work there) could comment on that. Perhaps you could email the BC in Colombia to find out?

Marek KIczkowiak

Posted on July 24th, 2014Report abuse
Hi Beth,
What does it mean to speak with a 'natural' accent? When it comes to pronunciation we can be very biased. For example, many learners would consider the RP accent to be very desirable despite the fact that onlly a tiny proportion of native speakers actually use it. On the other hand, some other accents (e.g. Indian) would be considered probably as less prestigious (or even incorrect) even though there are millions of native speakers who speak with it.
As far as mistakes are concerned, I think schools should make sure that their non-native teachers speak English to a very high standard. Having said that, I think that we tend to scrutinise non-native speaker's language much more closely than we do with native speakers. If a non-native makes a mistake, we put it down to their lack of proficiency. However, when a native makes a mistake, we dismiss it as a slip. There is a bit of hypocrisy there in my opinion.
What do you think?

Marek Kiczkowiak

Posted on July 24th, 2014Report abuse
Hi ESOL Tutor,
I can see your point. Perhaps all things being equal it might be more desirable to choose a native speaker. However, it might depend on the specific requirements of the job in question.
Having said that, the sad truth is that things are not equal for NNESTs. It is madness to hire less qualified native speakers, but this is what happens all the time. NNESTs are turned down just for being NNESTs.

Name Geoff Jordan

Posted on July 24th, 2014Report abuse
Good job! The more of us bang on about this, especially when it's done as well as you do here, the better.

Name*Jav ier Vanegas

Posted on July 25th, 2014Report abuse
It seems quite confusing that on one hand the language (English) is commonly seen as an international language and it is certain that there are more non native than the so called "native" speakers of the language today worldwide. Isn't it a contradiction to claim that native speakers are better to teach in a globalized English speaking world?

The Editor

Posted on July 25th, 2014Report abuse
Luba, Andrew,
We can confirm that we do have non-native speakers of English on our Colombia teaching team. Thanks for your concern.


Posted on July 25th, 2014Report abuse
I agree with you in one issue there is good reputation for nest teacher which that push a lot of school and institute around the world to employ nest teacher but there is fact that nest teacher give the student ahug confidence becaes they dealing with native one whatever he is good as a teacher or not and you know confidence is most important thing in English learning
So in order to employ nnest teacher you have to offer some activity to your student like chat with native speaker in other school in English country

Marek Kiczkowiak

Posted on July 27th, 2014Report abuse
Hi Torn,
Thank you for yet another insightful comment.
It is an issue we have been discussing on TEFL Equity Advocates quite a lot. I am really not sure what the answer to the problem you raise is. I do think, though, that while the change needs to come from the bottom, the big players in EFL will need to get actively involved if permanent move towards equity is to be achieved. We need more initiatives like the one by TESOL France which issued a public statement condemning and banning native-speaker only job ads from their recruitment network.
Regarding ELF, I think a lot still needs to be done in terms of gathering data about it. Currently, I don't think there is one, teachable ELF model. Having said that, as teachers we can and should move in our every day practice away from an exclusive focus on the British or American English (unless our students need it for specific purposes, e.g. immigration). I believe that there should be more emphasis on intelligibility, being communicative, and language that is and can be understood in a multi-lingual setting.

Elvira Nurmukhametova

Posted on July 28th, 2014Report abuse
Thank you for posting the article, it's a hot subject for a lot of us :)
I personally think that it's always good to have a choice of a native teacher or even a teacher with a specific accent when you are deciding on a language course. Here I am referring to all foreign languages. When I was choosing a Spanish course for myself, I wanted to get a Spanish speaker (as opposed to South American) purely because I prefer the Spanish accent. So I think it's fair if a student (not an agent) is looking for, say, a teacher with an American accent and turns down all others.
However, it should definitely NOT be at the discretion of the recruitment agents to judge your ability to teach based on your non-native status. Often (like the case with Korea) it's the government who decides. Last year I wanted to test whether (being a NNEST) I could still get a job when the post clearly said: 'native speakers only'. I applied for a teaching position in Turkey. The agent called me straight back to have a little chat and said that my qualifications and experience looked good. Above all,I sounded English enough to be suitable for the job, but he'd like the employer to hear me too. I made a video introducing myself and talking about my teaching experience, techniques etc. Two days later they sent me a contract.
My tip for NNESTs would be – ignore the posts and apply regardless! You can be as employable as a lot of native teachers.
Remain confident, believe in yourself and Bob's your uncle – you'll get the job you want!


Posted on August 5th, 2014Report abuse
Hey Marek,
As much as I agree with your article, there are certain aspects of being a Native which are overlooked in your analysis. I am a bi-lingual native in Polish and English which makes me a bit of a different case, but for the sake of argument, let's just omit the Polish part for a moment.
I've been teaching in Poland for over 6 years now and there are certain things that I need to address right off the bat.
Most natives come from backgrounds other than teaching and / or linguistic studies. Most of us have real experience in the corporate and in the business world which is something that you can't learn by simply reading the Business Insider or the Economist, neither can you claim that this is something which you'll pick up via osmosis after teaching it for "x" amount of years. We don't simply teach the language, but also the corporate culture which goes along with it, we explain the differences in management in communication and even silly things like business attitudes across English speaking countries.
In many cases, schools search for natives who can conduct Business English lessons and the reason for that is quite simple – context. I agree that not all, in fact the vast majority of natives can't provide this sort of context, but if you find the right one, they're worth their weight in gold.
For instance, I majored in International Business and worked for the US corporate for over a decade before deciding on a teaching career. I now run my own language school and it's extremely difficult if not impossible for me to find a NNEST who can understand Business English on an intermediate or higher levels. Unless of course you live in a big city, but even then, it's a challenge.
I've only been teaching in Poland so this is the experience that I'm able to comment on. Another problem – the grammar method. Poland's teachers rely on it heavily. Lessons are mainly conducted in L1 and what ss are facing is hours of test prep via pounding grammar into their heads. Having two bi-lingual children myself, I have to ask – why?
My children don't even know the meaning of "adjective" or "noun" yet they are perfectly fluent in both English and Polish. They learned it by communicating with us verbally.
Having said that, I do believe that most NNESTs are amazing teachers and most of them far surpass natives when it comes to teaching… however, this argument is only valid when we pin a native straight off the boat with an associate degree against a well versed and progressive non-native teacher who's passion is to learn about L2 as much as they can.
As per the cultural aspects. Language reflects each individual culture and even if I'm to agree with you that Brits and Yanks don't own the rights to English, it still reflects the culture of each individual country which a particular brand of English stems from.
Now, it all depends on what is the purpose of your lessons – if you're teaching Business English, teaching the culture is a highly important skill. If you're teaching GE to someone who's only trying to communicate during their vacation travels then you're fine with just the core and neutral version of the language. If you're teaching someone to interpret / translate – cultural aspects are extremely important in order to understand many regional nuances. For example, I'd like to see someone try to translate "Generation of Swine" by Hunter S. Thompson, without the intrinsic knowledge of American culture, better yet, try to read it with understanding.
Bottom line is – this argument is as old as the language teaching profession itself and in many cases it's spot on, English teaching has always been a "backpacker" job. Yet amongst us, there are those who take it seriously and treat it as a profession and not simply as means to travel and score with some exotic chicks while sipping on little drinks with umbrellas on Pacific islands.
Native TEACHERS and I have to emphasize – Teachers, will always hold an upper hand in this game. I agree that we need to weed out those who ruin it for the rest of us, but this is language acquisition and learning first hand from experienced natives will always be in demand.
Thank you for your time.


Posted on August 5th, 2014Report abuse
I couldn' agree more. Unfortunately, most job ads that are "willing to compromise" and do not require NESTs in certain positions, they still end up doing so, because of the visa requierments that makes it impossible to apply if you are not a British, American, Australian, or may be South African citizen. What is this, if not discrimination??????


Posted on August 5th, 2014Report abuse
To keep it short: as far as the research goes I have conducted my own. Just out of sheer curiosity I have put up two identical adverts: one posing as NEST and the second as NNEST. The outcome after a week: 63 calls vs 12….

Marek Kiczkowiak

Posted on August 5th, 2014Report abuse
Hi Elvira,
Thanks for taking the trouble to comment.
Regarding your first point, the example you give is a case of the teacher having specialised knowledge, which in this case is accent (could be business, medical English, or anything else that the school has demand for from their students). Therefore, the recruiter should specify this in the ad, i.e. We are looking for a teacher who can teach Spanish Spanish. Notice that I'm not saying: We need a native speaker, or a native speaker of Spanish from Spain. The latter would be a clear case of discrimination based on the country of origin. What I do object to, then, is the view that a non-native speaker could not do the job, i.e. teach Spanish Spanish accent. This should be objectively verified based on an interview.
I'm glad you managed to get a contract. I definitely agree that persistence is the key. It's paid off more than once for me too. However, it entirely misses the point of the debate. I'm not sure whether I should laugh or cry in despair at the recruiter's sheer lack of logic. If they're willing to employ proficient non-native speakers, why discriminate them and advertise for native speakers only?
Thanks again for commenting.

Marek Kiczkowiak

Posted on August 5th, 2014Report abuse
Hi Rafal,
Thanks for your lengthy and thoughtful comment.
1. There are many people who might be bilingual. However, some mightn't have the passport from an English speaking country. Does this make them less linguistically qualified to do the job? Some might have a passport from a particular country, but can't really speak the language that well (a Brazilian mate of mine just recently got an Italian passport, because his grandfather was from there, but he is only maybe B2 in the language). Being (or not) a native speaker is a very slipper issue. Why don't we judge teachers by their language abilities, not by their passports?
2. You say 'Most of us have real experience in the corporate and in the business'. This might be true. And it might not. Where I currently work there are very few teachers who have such experience. Similarly, many non-natives might have business experience. Or they might not. The point is, we can't assume any of that a priori. It's like saying: All Italians know how to make pasta. It just spreads unhelpful stereotypes. You go on to say: ' in fact the vast majority of natives can't provide this sort of context, but if you find the right one, they're worth their weight in gold'. Of, course they are. As any other teacher with specialist knowledge in a field that is in demand. Why not start selecting the candidates based on the contents of their CVs, rather than generalisations and stereotypes?
3. You wrote: 'Another problem – the grammar method. Poland's teachers rely on it heavily'. This might be true. However, this doesn't mean that all Polish teachers do, let alone that all NNESTs do. On the other hand, many NESTs rely on the communicative method, which they take to mean: let's chat about… However, not all. The point is: both statements are unfair and unhelpful generalisations.
4. As for your next point, this is what happens, i.e. many NEST with inferior qualifications are favoured for jobs, because they are native speakers. Is teaching only about knowing the language?
5. Regarding culture, I totally agree with you. What I object to, though, is using the cultural argument as an alleged advantage of a native speaker. The context when really specialised cultural awareness that a non-native could not provide is very limited (as you pointed out). In 6 years of teaching all levels, GE, Business, exam prep in various countries, I've never been in such a situation. I think we must also point out that a non-native speaker could also acquire such specific knowledge. Perhaps it is not so common, but definitely not unimaginable. Finally, as a native speaker of Polish who has lived abroad for the last 6 years, I've noticed more and more that I know much less about Polish culture than I did a couple of years ago. And is there something called Polish (or British) culture that all Poles (or Brits) would universally agree on?
6. It might be in demand. However, I don't think a native teacher holds the upper hand. I'd say it's pretty arrogant to say this. I'd really appreciate if you could provide any proof of the assumption that students learn quicker and better English (whatever that means) with native speakers than with non-native speakers. Until then, I'll remain sceptical.

Marek Kiczkowiak

Posted on August 5th, 2014Report abuse
Hi Dorota,
Any chance you could share the results of the research? It could make a very interesting article. You can contact me through the Contact section on

Name*Monica Lewis

Posted on August 5th, 2014Report abuse
Marek, Yours is a very good article. What you point out is so true…discrimination of another kind…this time it´s not colour nor age nor too fat or too thin but… what passport do you hold ? In the modern world of today we are trying to fight discrimination but there you are, it crops up again and again.
The British Council all over the world needs to learn to listen to people´s opinions…but they don´t !!! Big changes need many people to stick together and make themselves heard !!!
As in any other job, besides teaching, taking on a new worker is a risk but there are so many ways to find out if the applicant is good enough for the post… showing a passport is certainly not a guarantee. None-the-less I insist on having a qualified teacher with good pronunciation of the language !
Mine is a good example… I was born in Argentina of English parents an Scotish grandparents and I do have a British passport. I live and teach in Peru. I am fully bilingual and I have 3 professional degrees in education in English and in Spanish. While I worked in British schools I never got a British contract because I was "local staff" who were paid lower wages than those who came from Britain and I know I did an excellent job otherwise I would have been fired. There was nothing I could do to change the rule of those rulers with a warped mind !!! I resigned after 15 years and now I am my own boss so things have changed !!!
Things should change for more teachers who are able to speak English properly and know how to teach it whatever passport they hold !!!


Posted on August 6th, 2014Report abuse
Thanks Marek!!!
Your article is amazing and inspiring to teachers like me, a non-native teacher of EFL. I fortunately have a job in my country, Spain, teaching EFL. However, I have noticed many times that some companies or schools choose Native English Teachers over Non-Natives whith better experience or qualifications (you hear well, not with the same). So it seems you have to be even better than than the rest if Non-native. And in some places, you won't even be considered…
As to my experience, I must say that I have been in general quite appreciated as EFL teacher (in part, because I lived abroad many years so as to improve my fluency, learn "the culture" -good point about culture, I have lived in London and get exactly what you mean-). But I also found places in which they DIDN'T want me JUST because I was Spanish (can you believe it?, in my own country! -and not that it is OK to discriminate if you are a foreigner-).
My contribution to this blog could be interesting too since I have also have experience 'from the other side': that is, I have been the Spanish Native teacher (actually, a TA) in the UK/ USA, that sort of alien entity to which other Non-Natives felt they had no chance against :) . But I can say I have actually worked with teachers from the USA and England who teach Spanish as a Foreign Language and who are fantastic professionals, no matter their place of birth/ race/ background.
As for who prefers Native teachers, I'd say not the students! (they don't mind, they're smart enough to realise when a teacher is good/ bad) It's the "market". And the "market" is (sad to say it): parents, or "what my neighbour said" or "what I heard on TV". So luckily for us, we can do lots of things to overcome this! 'Educate your customer', I would say. It works!
Finally, to encourage all of you who have ever felt discriminated in this way (yes, it is discrimination, what else?), I must say that there are tons of places in my country in which Non-Native EFL teachers/ educators are equally valued than Native ones. I was actually the private tutor of a student who changed from a native tutor to me, because apparently he couldn't explain certain language difficulties to her, having English as a mother tongue (it also happened to me the other way round, being Spanish).
So Thanks Marek!!!
P.D. What is a native speaker anyway? If I was born in Manchester but then lived my whole life in Madrid, am I a native of English/ Spanish? And if I was born in Madrid, hold a Spanish passport and lived my whole life in Manchester? Is it the nationality of my parents or my own? Is it where I live? Or is it a certain passport? Because I could get one from an English-speaking country without having lived/ been born there. Just for you to think about it ;)


Posted on August 6th, 2014Report abuse
I totally agree with Raquel


Posted on August 7th, 2014Report abuse
Great point David ! Congrats on your article .

Marek Kiczkowiak

Posted on August 12th, 2014Report abuse
Hi Raquel,
Thanks for going into the trouble of commenting. You made some really valid points there. It'd be very interesting to hear more about your experiences. If you would like to write a guest post for TEFL Equity Advocates, please get in touch through the Contact section on

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Posted on September 1st, 2014Report abuse
[...] un profesor de lengua extranjera hablante nativo de esa lengua (y cuando no es necesario):…. [...]


Posted on September 4th, 2014Report abuse
The crux of the matter is this… a NNEST can have all the qualifications available but if their writing \speaking skills are lower than a NEST then they are not on the same level. Students need to be able to converse as well as possible, and being taught English by someone with a difficult accent doesnt bode well for that to be achieved. In my experience in Spain there are huge numbers of NNESTs with very poor speaking\conversational skills and shouldn't be teaching at all.