Skip navigation

i must say when it comes to ice-cream i always prefer chocolate.  Vanilla is just too bland, good a la mode perhaps, but not much use for anything else.

Last week, while in Boston, i interviewed for several jobs while attending’s annual convention. It was very clear from who was getting interviews what the flavour of the month was: WASP.  i even asked one of the recruiters during the interview if they were considering NonNative English Speaker Teachers but he said that the client insisted on Native Speaker English Teachers and would not consider NNESTs.  i mentioned to him, that if his Middle Eastern client seriously needed a lot of English Language Teachers in a short time frame he might do well to try recruiting NNESTs.  i mentioned that in my experience (clément, Loh; NNESTs Front and Center in Educational Reform in the UAE; TESOL 2009, Denver) in the Middle East (and elsewhere) that good, qualified NNESTs were particularly suited to the rigors of working in this setting particularly if they are native Arabic speakers. They have insider knowledge of the culture and religion and are more readily able to deal with behaviour management issues as and when they arise.  This particular recruiter said he would take that under advisement and thanked me for my opinion.

i’m wondering what the ACLU would make of recruiters working to such specifications on US soil?

Yesterday i had an experience of what i can safely describe as reverse racism.  i responded to this ad in the Gulf News:

Walk – in Interviews
With fifty years of education experience, GEMS Education is committed to improving the quality of education worldwide. It is the leading kindergarten to grade 12 private education operator in the world. GEMS Education is also working with Governments around the world to improve the quality of education in Government schools.
GEMS Education is unique in that it provides a range of curricula at a variety of tuition fee levels. Some of these curricula are the International Baccalaureate, American, Indian and English. GEMS provides quality education to nearly 100, 000 students across 125 nationalities and employ over 97,000 education professionals, teachers and staff.
The Millennium School, Dubai provides high quality education to students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. It is a day boarding school, offering students a holistic education. Affiliated to the CBSE, the school is looking for qualified and experienced teachers for Geography, English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Physical Education with swimming (Lady only) and a Special Educator.
The school’s compensation package is designed to attract the best educators.
Walk in interviews for the above, will be held on Tuesday 30th. March 2010 between 9:30 am and 3:00 pm. The school is situated in Al Ghusais between Lulu Supermarket and NMC Speciality hospital.
All candidates should have a UAE Residence Visa and are requested to bring a current CV.
The Millennium School | Tel 04-2988567. GEMS EDUCATION Learn. Aspire. Be.

i got to the school early and spoke with a junior administrator and the security guard.  Neither had any idea that walk-in interviews were taking place.  The security guard escorted me inside and pointed out the front desk. An underling gave me a form to fill out.  i quickly filled it out, gave it back to her and went to sit down.  A few minutes later she called me over and mentioned that they were looking for teachers with Indian Curriculum experience; i mentioned that i’d worked in a number of countries with many different curriculums.

i was then ushered into the School Secretary’s office.  She told me they were looking for “qualified” teachers; i informed her that i had a bachelor of education, a masters of education and was working on a doctorate in education.  i am a qualified teacher and was looking forward to meeting with the interview panel.  i returned to the waiting area.

After another short interlude i was called into the Principal’s office.  He informed me that i was too qualified for the post(s) they had on offer.  He asked me how many years of experience i had, i told him over 30; he mentioned that he had that much too.

All in all, it was an interesting morning.  Turns out they were wanting toffee, mocha or chocolate, not plain old vanilla… i now have an inkling of what NNESTs feel like when they come up against Native Speaker bias.  A good English language teacher is a good teacher despite ethnic origin, race or variety of spoken English.



  1. Well, I prefer vanilla ice cream:it mixes well with any flavor and fosters creativity. Chocolate is overpowering when it comes to mixing. Discrimination in the job market place against NNESTs is simply deplorable. We must give due importance to writing and reading to overcome it. And we should join ranks with speakers of US English with southern accents, who are discrimininated against just as much. I am curious to see the papers presented next year at TESOL on the “E” in TESOL. I suspect the ‘E’s in “NEw England” mean a lot when it comes to finding a job!

  2. Have you considered the case of a non-WASP, native English-speaking, trained teacher who was born and raised in Asia and holds an Asian passport? Double whammy!

    I hope modernity will rain sooner than later on and rescue those still miring in medieval ideas of who makes a good English language teacher.

    • Dear E.T.
      sorry to say but i wouldn’t hold my breath if i were you. The biases persist. i know supposedly trained NESTs that i wouldn’t let near a classroom for fear of the damage they would wrought. i also know trained NNESTs whom i also wouldn’t let near a classroom, if i had the power to fire them. i have had that power once in the past; when i was in charge of a private English Language Tuition Centre i worked with 40+ ELTs all of whom were NNESTS. Some were great; many were good; some needed support which i provided. Only two were deemed (by myself and the owners/directors) untrainable and fired.

  3. Mmmm… it must be a very disconcerting surreal experience for you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: