Tag Archives: employment

Work & Rights in Australian ELT (#AusELT Twitter Chat 7th May 2017)

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Our April Twitter chat is happening on Sunday 7th May at 8.30pm Sydney time – click here to see the time where you are. Hope to e-see you there!

If you read the #AusELT Facebook page or Twitter feed, you can see a remarkable group of professionals. The comments, questions and responses clearly show hard-working teachers (and trainers, lecturers and managers), serious about meeting students’ needs, and committed to learning and sharing in order to do ‘this’ better.

Unfortunately, in many cases their hard work, commitment and professional development do not seem to be valued, remunerated or even rewarded with something as basic as a contract. Phiona Stanley’s paper, Economy class? Lived experiences and career trajectories of private-sector English-language school teachers in Australia, captures the instability and lack of recognition that characterises ELT employment for many (you can also see slides from her related plenary at the English Australia Conference in 2016 here).

As Stanley also points out, the individual DoS or manager (who is also hard-working and professional) often has their hands tied as well in terms of balancing who they can retain and who they need to take on. These issues are systemic, and it can seem impossible for individual teachers or managers to make a difference. But there are exceptions and examples of good, ethical, practice.

In this chat we will discuss:

  • what are the exceptions and how can we work to make them the rule?
  • how can we help each other to advocate for ourselves?
  • what are your rights and what can you do if they are not being met?
  • what can individuals do to work towards change?

We are collecting useful resources on this topic, which you can access via the ‘Working in ELT‘ link above – let us know in the comments, Twitter chat or via Facebook message, if you have ideas to add. There’s also some recommended reading below. Please join us for this important discussion on Sunday. Looking forward to e-seeing you then.

Recommended Reading

(* Posted with the permission of the Australian Education Union (AEU). Access more recent issues of The Australian TAFE Teacher here: http://www.aeufederal.org.au/news-media/the-australian-tafe-teacher).

Not sure about Twitter?

Why not have a go? We can help you out. Get in touch with any of the AusELT admin team on Facebook or Twitter (eg, @sophiakhan4 or @cioccas, or by leaving a comment below. Here are some posts that should also help you get started:

This post by @sophiakhan4

Native speakerism in ELT in Australasia (#AusELT Twitter chat 1st May 2016)

 

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In this post, Agi Bodis outlines some of the issues around native-speakerism in preparation for our upcoming chat. This chat has now taken place. Click here to read the summary.

 

 

Some of you may remember that an ad for a pronunciation course recently created an interesting discussion on our Facebook page. The course claims to help ‘overseas-born professionals’ fine-tune their pronunciation to improve employment opportunities. It is interesting to note that the word ‘native’ is not mentioned anywhere, but it prompted us to discuss the role of the ‘native speaker’ in ELT.

The ad addresses – or perpetuates – the so called ‘accent ceiling’ (Piller, 2011, p. 144), a boundary many L2 speakers of English experience at the workplace or when attempting to find employment in an English-speaking country. A few of us have questioned the concept of ‘native’ or ‘native-like’ accent as it appears to be a vague term, but it is still something that many students aim to achieve in order to advance professionally or avoid being judged.

So what is ‘native speakerism’? It is an ideology, a commonly held belief, which considers the native speaker as the ideal model for language use, and in ELT, ‘the expert’ when it comes to language teaching methodology as well (Holliday, 2006). The phenomenon thus has implications not only for what is taught and how it’s taught, but also who is entitled to teach the language itself.

In her recent plenary at IATEFL 2016, Silvana Richardson spoke passionately about the discrimination non-native speaker ESL teachers face and the negative impact this has on their professional identity even though the vast majority of English language teachers in the world are non-native speakers (over 80%, according to Richardson).

She questioned the legitimacy of the term ‘non-native speaker’ as it defines people by what they are not, and emphasised the need to shift from a native-speaker competence to a multilingual competence. She proposed that teacher trainers review their programs to make sure these issues are addressed. She also urged teachers to show their support at work and beyond, and join advocacy groups. One such group she mentioned was TEFL Equity Advocates, whose founder, Marek Kiczkowiak (@MarekKiczkowiak), will be joining us in our Twitter chat.

Another related issue that has come up on our Facebook page is the effect of the market: “students want native speakers” or a certain variety of English. Richardson addressed this issue too pointing out that from research it seems that students value professional qualities more than nativeness.

Join us to discuss any of the following points related to native speakerism on Twitter on Sunday 1 May 8:30-9:30 pm AEST (This chat has now taken place. Click here to read the summary)

  • The role of ‘the native speaker’ in teaching materials and/or language testing
  • The market: student expectations regarding learning a certain variety of English (including accent); expectations regarding native speaker teachers
  • NESB ESL teachers: any experience being employed as a NESB teacher; any experience with NESB teachers
  • Teacher training and the native speaker teacher

Looking forward to our discussion!

Links

Silvana Richardson’s plenary at IATEFL 2016: http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2016/session/plenary-silvana-richardson

Interview with Burcu Akyol and Marek Kiczkowiak on the issue of non-native speakers in ELT – at IATEFL 2016: http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2016/interview/interview-burcu-akyol-and-marek-kiczkowiak

TEFL Equity Advocates: https://teflequityadvocates.com/

Lexicallab on CELTA and the NS bias: http://www.lexicallab.com/2016/04/celta-the-native-speaker-bias-and-possible-paths-forward/

References

Holliday, A. (2006). Native-speakerism. ELT Journal: English Language Teaching Journal, 60(4), 385-387. doi:10.1093/elt/ccl030

Piller, I. (2011). Intercultural communication : A critical introduction Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

This post by Agi Bodis, @AgsBod