Monthly Archives: September 2011

Ali Fuad Selvi

NNEST of the Month

October, 2011

Ali Fuad Selvi is a PhD candidate in the Second Language Education and Culture program at the University of Maryland, College Park where he serves as a graduate teaching and research assistant. He is also the current president of the WATESOL (Washington Area Teachers of English to the Speakers of Other Languages) NNEST Caucus. His research interests include the global spread of English, second language teacher education, World Englishes, and issues related to non-native English-speaking professionals in TESOL. His publications have appeared or are to appear in research-oriented journals such as TESOL Quarterly, Applied Linguistics, World Englishes, Language Teaching Research, and ELT Journal, as well as in practitioner-oriented venues such asEssential Teacher, NNEST Interest Section Newsletter, and WATESOL Newsletter. His dissertation research is a multifaceted exploration of how TESOL teacher education program components provide affordances and constraints in developing a knowledge base for native and non-native English-speaking teacher candidates to work effectively with English language learners in diverse teaching contexts.

NNEST blog October interviewer: Shu-Chun Tseng

1.     Could you tell us your linguistic, educational and professional background?

Let me start by thanking you for your invitation to be a part of the NNEST of the Month Blog. I am most certainly honored to be a part of this project, which is personally one of my most favorite bookmarks and an innovative utilization of technology for the exchange of ideas free from the constraints of time and space. I also feel very privileged to have the opportunity to share my experiences and perspectives with teachers and scholars who strive to provide better language teaching-learning opportunities for English language learners in the emerging global society of the 21st century.

Reflecting upon my personal history, I realize that my linguistic, educational and professional backgrounds have included a very complex network of relations and have distinctively influenced my educational history, personal values, standpoint in the field of TESOL and professional goals today. I would like to highlight three important figures to better explicate my journey into TESOL.

The first of these important figures is my father, who held the position as the chief correspondent of a news agency in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Due to this relocation, I had the opportunity to live in Central Asia for about 4 years; there I had my first taste of a multilingual and multicultural social, educational and linguistic environment. The linguistic repertoire of this new context included four different languages, all of which acted like the gears of a perfectly-functioning machine. I was using Turkish with my family members and Turkish expats, Uzbek and Russian with friends and locals and as a subject at school, and English as the primary medium of instruction at school and as a “linguistic life vest” that I used to wear when communication was lost in any of the other three languages. This was certainly a very dramatic change in the role that languages and more specifically the English language played in my life. I used to feel that English, which is praised as the language which opens doors around the globe, was incapable of opening the door of my classrooms since language learning opportunities were by and large confined to walls of my classrooms. However, embracing the powerful role that English plays as a transcending and meaningful communicative tool planted the seeds of my initial interest in English language teaching. Thus, I embarked upon my journey into TESOL thanks to this opportunity of living in a multilingual/multicultural context, and also to the constant encouragement and support provided by my father who made all this possible. As a result, I obtained my bachelor’s (2004) and master’s (2007) degrees in English Language Teaching from Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey. I also had the opportunity to work as an intensive English program instructor at Atilim University and as a teaching and research assistant at METU.

The second prominent figure is Joshua Bear (known as Joshua “hoca”, which means “master” or “teacher”), a professor of TESOL and Applied Linguistics at METU, who introduced me to many of  the current issues and controversies structured around the spread of English, ownership of English, English as an international language, native speakerism, linguistic imperialism, and professional, attitudinal and discriminatory issues related to non-native English-speaking teachers (NNESTs) in our profession. As a graduate student who entered the program with the goal of deepening his understanding of second language acquisition theories and issues in pragmatics, I found myself immersed in and soon addicted to his thought-provoking and vision-enhancing graduate seminars and our extended conversations on problematizing and contextualizing issues embedded in the NNEST movement. Most notably and contrary to misconception, as a native-speaker (NS) of English he converted me to being a member of the NNEST movement. I have had the distinct opportunity to work under his supervision during the writing of my Master’s thesis (“A Multifactorial Sociolinguistic Analysis of Business Naming Practices in Turkey”), in which I investigated the reflection of the global spread of English in Turkish business discourse, and more specifically in business naming practices. Ultimately, with the encouragement and support I received from him, I joined the doctoral program at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) with the intention of bridging second language teacher education with TESOL while adopting the NNEST Lens (Mahboob, 2010) as my central professional framework.

The last but certainly not the least important figure is Brock Brady, a professor of TESOL, the past-president of TESOL, and EFL curriculum specialist in the Peace Corps, who has graciously been a constant source of support, motivation and mentoring. I feel privileged and blessed to have numerous opportunities to work and collaborate with him in several projects within the WATESOL (Washington Area TESOL Affiliate) NNEST Caucus, and to be a part of the change that we believe in. His exemplary leadership and immense expertise have always served as a wonderful example to us as emergent scholars, leaders and educators. Working with Professor Brady in the NNEST Caucus not only enabled me to benefit from his tireless dedication and excellent leadership but also to take concrete steps towards reconceptualizing the ideologically-fused and false NS-NNS dichotomy within TESOL (Moussu & Llurda, 2008). Only half a decade after its establishment, our WATESOL Caucus continues to increase its accomplishments in terms of increasing awareness, spreading activism, and encouraging advocacy for NNESTs. The future goals of the Caucus include but are not limited to expanding membership outreach efforts, supporting Caucus members to engage in research and publication efforts focusing on NNEST issues, building alternative ways to support the professional growth of NNESTs, and creating new possibilities for NEST-NNEST collaboration.

2.     Congratulations on receiving The Ruth Crymes TESOL Academies Fellowship in 2011. Please tell us about this award. How did winning this award affect you personally and professionally?

Thank you! I would like to take this opportunity to thank TESOL and the Award Committee for their generosity in supporting professionals in the field of TESOL.

I would first of all like to say that I was deeply impressed by the fact that The Ruth Crymes Fellowship Fund was established in memory of TESOL President (1979-1980) and TESOL Quarterly Editor Ruth Crymes, who was tragically killed in an airplane crash en route to the 1979 MEXTESOL Conference in Mexico City. This was a truly sad but a very profound example of how members of our profession are very eager to express their generosity and philanthropy. Thus, I feel it necessary to express my deep gratitude to Ruth Crymes and the donors of The Ruth Crymes Fellowship Fund for their vision and commitment. Second, I believe that the annual TESOL Conventions are pivotal in my professional development both as an English language teacher and as an emergent researcher. Although I constantly feel that it is difficult to be at four different presentations at almost the same time, I still feel that attending the presentations, workshops and meetings on a wide spectrum of topics in the field of TESOL and contributing to the convention by participating as a panel discussant, presenter, committee member and interest section leader are profoundly beneficial. Third, after each Convention, I usually get together with my colleagues and have extended discussions on ideas that we generate at the Convention, and find ways to maximize our professional gain. I also share documents, presentation notes, materials, books and resources with my fellow teachers and teacher educator colleagues outside the United States. Finally, I should add that TESOL Conventions are wonderful times to meet TESOLers from all around the world, and thus provide excellent networking opportunities. Although they are held in cities that you probably have never been to, you always feel like you are back home for a family reunion!

3.     As a graduate student, you have been very active in professional organizations like WATESOL and TESOL. Currently, you are serving as the president of the WATESOL NNEST Caucus and as a Member-at-large in the TESOL NNEST IS.

a. How did you prepare yourself for these leadership positions?

Let me elaborate on my notion of leadership, which will give more insights into how I personally prepare myself for various leadership tasks. I believe that any leadership task requires the utilization of a set of communicative, organizational, performative, and reflective skills that one can develop over time. My personal guiding torch throughout any leadership process is constant and dynamic reflection. I conceptualize reflection as a sine qua non element of leadership since it provides (a) a conscious attempt to understand your point of departure in terms of skills and abilities and acts as a needs analysis tool (“What skills do I need to become an effective leader?”), (b) a developmental trajectory throughout the leadership process (“How am I doing as a leader in terms of achieving my goals as a leader?”), and (c) a retrospective reflective tool which will eventually redefine your goals, projections for the future and personal development (“What lessons do I get out of this leadership process?”). A leadership process which includes personal reflection is complemented by seeking mentoring and guidance throughout the leadership process. This is instrumental because it contributes to your effectiveness as a leader, provides you with an external feedback and support mechanism, thereby facilitating your development as an emergent leader, and helping you develop an understanding of what mentoring should (or should not) be.

In order to learn how to lead, you should give yourself a chance! No matter what sort of leadership task you undertake, it makes sense to begin by taking small steps. This tremendously facilitates your socialization into greater leadership positions, which require more time, energy, and expertise. Seeking opportunities for and during leadership tasks is critical in one’s development as an emergent leader. Although counter examples exist, it is often the case that one should seek novel ways to take responsibility. Therefore, I believe that one should always remain vigilant, full of enthusiasm and be willing to collaborate with others and of course, be willing to take on more responsibility

b. Have you ever encountered any challenges while serving in these leadership positions?  If yes, how have you overcome them?

I have quickly become aware of the fact that challenges and leadership almost go hand in hand. Just like everything, there are various kinds of and different degrees of challenges. While some of them are superficial and therefore can be easily taken care of, others might jeopardize your ultimate goal, harm your effectiveness as a leader, have impact that persist for prolonged periods of times, and often lead to de-motivation or dropping out among team members. My personal rule of thumb to any sort of challenge is flexibility coupled with perseverance and utilization of a diverse network of resources.

Flexibility or adaptability is one of the unique characteristics of human beings and can be very instrumental when one is faced with challenges. Therefore, reorganizing tasks, redefining goals, revisiting the division of labor, maintaining willingness to devote extra time and energy, and seeking innovative ways are among many strategies that one can employ to overcome challenges. During this time, a leader should display perseverance and remain determined to achieve one’s ultimate goals.

In order to meet these challenges, it is very important to utilize a diverse network of resources to overcome challenges. Leaders collaborate with their team members and mentors, and develop other sources to undertake the changes necessary to achieve the ultimate goal. It is also imperative to develop an understanding that challenges will exist all the time and therefore one should seek various ways to meet them.

c. What advice would you give to NNES graduate students or novice teachers who are interested in pursuing leadership positions in professional organizations?

Here are my personal suggestions for graduate students and novice teachers who are interested in pursuing leadership positions in professional organizations:

Relax! – Most of the time NNES graduate students or novice teachers refrain from pursuing leadership positions merely because they find it a daunting task or feel that they might be underqualified to take. However, once they take the first step and begin this rewarding journey, they quickly realize that it is far less intimidating that it seemed and thereby develop a range of leadership skills. Give yourself a chance as a leader, and you will be very surprised by the results!

Everyone else is busy, too – Another widely heard reason preventing NNES graduate students or novice teachers from getting involved in leadership positions in professional organizations is the fact that they are busy, and they most certainly are. But here is the thing: everyone else is busy, too. If you are really interested in pursuing leadership positions, please carefully reconsider your schedule. There might be a little opening for this rewarding experience.

Make use of the opportunity – There might be a wide range of leadership tasks awaiting you and there is no such thing as a person for whom no position is appropriate. Carefully consider your personal and professional goals and make your move to undertake the one that is most appropriate for you. Some leadership tasks might seem inappropriate at first, but later you will find that you are perfect for this position.

Volunteer –The notion of leadership and service in our profession heavily relies on a volunteer workforce. It means that you need to demonstrate some initiative to make the first move. Once you express your genuine interest, you will be welcomed by many supporting mentors who will scaffold you throughout the process.

Ask others to volunteer –Twisting somebody’s arm, helping him or her to make the first move and scaffolding him or her afterwards is an excellent example of demonstrating leadership and mentoring. This will increase recruitment of new participants as team members, and contribute to the overall mission of our professional organization.

Keep your enthusiasm alive – There might be times when challenges seem insurmountable, or when you face unexpected negative reactions, which eventually deplete your enthusiasm. Think of such challenges as reality checks for your perseverance, determination, and enthusiasm as a leader, and try to stay on track!

Establish connections – Despite the fact that leadership is often conceived as a goal-oriented task, the process of becoming a leader is as important as the ultimate goal. During the course of your leadership training, you will develop a range of skills, develop resources, and establish connections, which might become very instrumental in case you face unexpected challenges.

Be proud of yourself – You should definitely be proud of yourself! Why? Because you invest time and energy and show dedication and commitment in undertaking responsibilities and thereby lead our profession in collaboration with others.

4.     You also have remarkable experience in contributing to academic publications such as ELT Journal, World Englishes, TESOL Quarterly, etc.  

a. What keeps you motivated to brainstorm new ideas and publish more and more articles?

What lies at the heart of my motivation to brainstorm new ideas and share them in scholarly venues is the power of academic voice which becomes a manifestation of my professional identity and goals as an emergent scholar. I acknowledge that unethical, unprofessional, and discriminatory practices in hiring and wage and workplace discrimination against NNESTs have long existed as bitter realities in the English language teaching profession. The “either/or” (NEST or NNEST) discourse within TESOL continues to polarize the field of English language teaching. Therefore, I believe that we need to take concrete steps towards establishing a more encompassing ‘both/and discourse’ (NEST and NNEST) that embraces the strengths and limitations of both teacher populations in various teaching settings (Selvi, 2011) and aims to establish a professional milieu that ‘welcome[s] ethnic, racial, cultural, religious, and linguistic diversity’ (Selvi, 2009, p.51). This sense of responsibility lies at the heart of my professional identity and is the main impetus for my writings. This view could also be perceived as implementing what Ahmar Mahboob calls the NNEST lens, “a fresh gaze at issues of theoretical, professional, and practical interest in TESOL and applied linguistics, which have traditionally been plagued with a monolingual bias (Kachru, 1994)” (Mahboob, 2010, p.). I believe that the NNEST lens has the potential for enabling members of the TESOL community to become more critical consumers of research.

b. What advice would you give to NNES graduate students or novice teachers who are interested in submitting a research paper for publication?

Publishing in scholarly venues is a rewarding process for any graduate student or novice teacher, and believe it or not, this holds true even your manuscript is rejected. Often times, authors are hesitant to participate in the whole process (preparation, submission, and publication) because it seems complicated, cumbersome, lengthy, and very competitive.

Although the publication process is often perceived as it is described by such adjectives that bear negative connotations, I would like to highlight some unique advantages available to graduate students who choose to participate. First and foremost, graduate coursework in TESOL or applied linguistics programs provides excellent opportunities to engage in deeper understanding of issues that might be of interest to students. Merging class requirements with developing a manuscript for publication is a very efficient way of making tremendous progress and is therefore a win-win situation for students. What is better than simultaneously devoting your time and energy to a manuscript dealing with a topic of your interest and getting a good grade at the end of the semester as well? In addition to fulfilling class requirements, you will have the opportunity to benefit from diverse internal feedback mechanisms embedded into the class such as feedback from your instructor, classmates and others beyond the class. The end of the semester might mean submitting a version of your paper for evaluation, but it often takes more time to brew a tasty manuscript. Therefore, seeking stylistic and content-related feedback and multiple revisions over a prolonged period of time might serve as a stepping stone towards a solid manuscript. Graduate students may even take these efforts to a next level by sharing their work in academic conferences and benefiting from extra feedback on their work.

In earlier stages of publication, it is quite likely that your audience is limited to the professor of the class you are taking and your colleagues in your class or workplace. In such cases, your work is targeted towards them and built upon a shared discourse with them. However, once you decide to share your work with a wider audience, as in the case of scholarly and/or practitioner venues, that means an important change in your target audience, which is now much broader in terms of depth and scope. Thus, determining audience is a key component in determining your own voice as the author and will be instrumental in adjusting the depth and scope of your content. Please refer to Matsuda (2003) for an excellent discussion of finding and developing your own voice as a graduate student.

Identifying a forum for your work is also an integral part of the process that involves determining your audience and finding your own voice. In light of your own personal and professional goals and the content of your work, you should carefully consider the options that are available to you including newsletters, research- or practitioner-oriented journals that are available in electronic or in print formats, and edited books. Since Egbert (2007) in his classification of the top seven journals in TESOL and Applied Linguistics estimated acceptance rates ranging from 8.5%-20%, a rule of thumb might be submitting your work to less competitive venues. This can help you gain expertise about the publication process, develop your voice and style as an author and boost your confidence as a scholar/teacher.

In Worstward Ho (1983), Irish playwright, novelist and poet Samuel Beckett eloquently utters one of my favorite and guiding quotes: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Failing better is one of the rules of the publishing game, but think it as a rule that you learn from, and a stepping stone towards perfection. Let us look at the process once again: You have written a piece, which you distilled through your own synthesis and edited multiple times in light of external reviews (your colleagues and professors).You have found a scholarly/practitioner venue that might be interested in your work. This is the critical moment. If you try and fail, you will fail with referee reports that clearly identify potential problems in your paper. This process will offer you a wonderful opportunity to improve your work, failing better each time until you get it accepted somewhere. However, if you do not try, it is true that you never fail, but it is also true that you never publish!

One personal macro strategy that I have developed over time is to think of the act of writing on NNEST issues as a way of raising awareness, building advocacy, and demonstrating activism. In other words, strategically engaging in academic work such as giving conference presentations and striving to publish writings on NNEST issues in scholarly and professional venues is in fact a very rewarding and motivating way to contribute to the expanding NNEST movement.

5.     As an NNES graduate student in the United States, what has been the most vivid memory (positive or negative) of your academic and professional practices?

Moving to the United States for my doctoral studies has also meant an intellectual transformation and has given me distinct opportunities to genuinely embrace the issues related to NNESTs and make my contribution to the ongoing movement. Perhaps the most memorable moment is when I first attended a WATESOL NNEST Caucus meeting at UMCP and met Caucus members including founding members of the Caucus, Professor Brock Brady and Gloria Park. Thinking retrospectively, I feel like being in the right place at the right time only matters if you are with the right people, and I was very fortunate to be with the right people. The process of moving from conceptualization towards realization was complemented by our collective efforts of NNEST empowerment and promotion of NEST-NNEST collaboration. Today, I feel a distinct pleasure to be a part of this wonderful community, which has helped me to grow personally, professionally and academically.

6.     Also, as an active NNES graduate student, what are the problems and issues that you would like to address about the needs and concerns of international students and NNES students? Why?

The “international students” is a very complex construct to define, as it is subject to a great variation in terms of linguistic, pragmatic, cultural and ethnic diversity. Just like many other indescribable constructs, the widespread discursal representations of the “international student” have been built greatly using stereotypes. The most common characteristics include that a reluctance to participate in class discussions, a strong preference for rote learning, and an apparent deficiency in terms of critical thinking skills. The hidden crux of this type of stereotyping is a shuttling between a deficit model and the discourse of othering. Thus, international students have been subject to the “us” and “them” dichotomizing, and are viewed as individuals who do not possess the qualities to succeed in the world of education.

As hundreds of thousands of NNES international students arrive in North American higher education institutions, they usually quickly find themselves immediately being challenged and measured against an idealized NS and United States-born student in terms of linguistic and cultural knowledge within the new academic and social setting. Use of this institutionalized deficit model by various stakeholders in institutions of higher education seriously impedes the transition of NNES international students into the new context and results in a series of psychological and sociocultural issues throughout their studies; it often leads to conflicts between domestic students or within-group marginalization.

The very first step in addressing this problem is to develop a collective sense of understanding that all stakeholders (instructional faculty, administration, student services, and students) have a responsibility to address the needs and concerns of international students. This notion of shared accountability will serve as the foundation for top-down and bottom-up practices ensuring the academic and social transition of international students. It is certainly important to define what we understand by “shared accountability”, which leads us to the following question: How do we conceptualize this student population? To be fixed? To be assimilated? To be improved? To be scaffolded? Perhaps, the critical issue here is to establish (and promote) a widespread understanding that “different” does not mean “lacking”; it means only “different”. The fact is that NNES international students might have different strengths, different needs, different concerns, and different skills. Only when all the stakeholders share this view and share the need to be accountable can they collectively work on finding novel and organic ways to promote student adjustment into the existing academic framework. Based on my personal experience, observations, and readings, I identify three main areas which have potential for the enhancement of international student development:

(1) Facilitating their adaptation to the new educational context and academic discourses.

This refers to both institutional and personal ways of understanding, reformulating, and working towards meeting the needs and expectations of the new educational context and academic discourse. Some strategies might include adopting/adapting an internationalized curriculum, making the course content, academic experience and assessment procedures more accessible, taking extra steps to learn more about the educational context and the intricacies of the academic discourse, and conceptualizing plagiarism as an educative tool.

(2) Enhancing their socio-cultural adjustment

This refers to viewing international students as whole individuals and acknowledging the vitality of their sociocultural adjustment as a critical component in their academic lives. It gives us a unique and perfect opportunity to develop a sense of the importance of intercultural competence for both international and domestic students.

(3) Continued efforts to develop one’s English language proficiency

This refers to the conceptualization that language learning is a lifelong enterprise and might require ongoing effort to develop or fine tune one’s communicative competence for various context-specific tasks such as engaging in small talk, teaching an undergraduate lesson, or writing an academic paper/conference proposal for submission.

Terry Doyle, ESL Instructor at City College of San Francisco (Questions 7-9)

7.     In your article entitled “A Call to Graduate Students to Reshape the Field of English Language Teaching” you describe professional practices based on three A’s, “Awareness, Advocacy, and Activism.”  I totally agree with you that such practices are very useful for NNES graduate students in MA TESOL programs.  I am an ESL teacher in a community college, but I work with at least one and often two or three student teachers who are often international students (and therefore “non-native”). I find that they sometimes are not so familiar with the literature on non-native teacher issues, and also they sometimes feel a reluctance to show an interest in such issues maybe because they want to assimilate into the TESOL profession. This self-awareness step would seem to be antecedent to your three A’s. Can you suggest ways to make this kind of person aware of practices that favor native-English-speaking (NES) teachers or ignore NNES teachers and why knowing about these practices is important?  Have you encountered this type of person?

Excellent question, Terry! I think you have just pointed out one of the greatest challenges for the NNEST movement which stems from great misconceptions. How do we promote self-awareness among TESOLers regarding the issues related to NNESTs?

I acknowledge the fact that any kind of transformation of a group starts with individuals who represent the core of that group. Therefore, self-awareness is absolutely antecedent to the three A’s I discuss (Awareness, Advocacy, and Activism), and serves as a foundation for the later stages of raising awareness, engaging in advocacy and demonstrating activism (Selvi, 2009). However, we are confronted with a second layer of complexity: many TESOLers (NS and NNS, in EFL and ESL contexts) have a very narrow understanding of and interest in the issues related to NNESTs and the NNEST movement per se. This poses the greatest challenge for the future of the NNEST movement. I have encountered many graduate students and teachers who have lack of interest in the NNEST movement thinking that this movement is “exclusive to NNESTs”, “ancillary to everyday teaching practices”, “often self-defensive”, and “all about discrimination”. In this plethora of misconceptions, NNES graduate students in TESOL can be the originators of a ripple effect, if they strongly believe that they can play a key role in promoting self-awareness and self-advocacy among TESOLers by establishing personal connections with fellow students in professional associations and online platforms and informing them what the NNEST movement is about.

Why is this important? We live in a world where non-native speakers of English are estimated to outnumber their native-speaking counterparts by three to one (Crystal 2003) , the ownership of English is shared by all its speakers, regardless of their ‘nativeness’ (Widdowson, 1994), and 80% of English language teachers worldwide are projected to be NNESTs (Canagarajah, 2005). Nevertheless, in the same world, the presence of ‘native speakerism’ (Holliday, 2005) leads to ‘unprofessional favoritism in institutions, publishing houses, and government agencies’ (Medgyes, 2001, p. 433), and results in unfair employment discrimination (Selvi, 2010). Therefore, the need to go beyond the NS as a standard in English language learning and teaching is more relevant than ever (Braine, 2010). Our collective efforts should be geared more towards highlighting the unique characteristics of our profession: all-encompassing boundaries that welcome ethnic, racial, cultural, religious, and linguistic diversity, and the promotion of collaboration among NESTs and NNESTs by legitimate participation of both parties.

8.     How can people like me (an NES ESL teacher) begin to help people in our profession such as applied linguists and MA TESOL program professors and also ESL teachers like colleagues in my college to become more aware of practices that favor native-English-speaking (NES) teachers or ignore NNES teachers?

The issue of reluctance regarding the NNEST movement is unfortunately evident among many professionals such as professors teaching in MATESOL programs and ESL teachers. Nevertheless, I believe that our individual academic contexts provide an array of opportunities to promote awareness of issues related to NNESTs. Based my experience, I would definitely suggest  starting by establishing close ties with faculty members and teachers whom you know individually as people and whom you think are open-minded on such issues. Personal connections would allow for long-standing intellectual conversations around these issues and have better chances to lead to a positive change. The medium of interaction very much depends on the individuals but the vast continuum can range from having a conversation over a cup of coffee (or tea) to sharing readings and audiovisual materials, to collaborative practices such as co-teaching/co-authoring/co-presenting about these issues. No matter what degree of interaction you might have, the importance of working with faculty and teachers is indispensable. Most importantly, this will help your voice of advocacy find a broader audience and might lead to more institutionalized influences for your colleagues’ future students.

A friendly reminder: As once happened to a very good NES colleague of mine, when you introduce your ideas and other writings on the NNEST movement to your colleagues, you might encounter a puzzled face and find yourself in a situation where you have to answer the question based on a great misconception: “Why do you bother yourself with the NNEST movement? You are not even one of them!”

9.     I also read your article entitled “All teachers are equal, but some teachers are more equal than others: Trend analysis of job advertisements in English language teaching” with great interest. I have served on my college’s ESL department’s hiring committee three times. I am wondering if analyzing the job announcements of ESL departments would also reveal underlying discrimination against NNEST applicants.  I know that in our field NES teachers and other professionals use various ways to maintain their power and the unfair advantage of NES applicants to obtain employment in not so obvious ways. I wonder whether job announcements might be one such area.

I decided to investigate job announcements in TESOL based upon the realization that while research investigating the market value of native speakers in TESOL was scarce, anecdotal accounts of hiring, wage and workplace discrimination was abundant. I believed that this would reveal important insights about the current status of professionalism in TESOL and draw a road map for the future of our profession. Sadly, the analysis of the advertisements empirically validated impressions of an undemocratic and unethical employment landscape in the English language teaching profession. Moreover, it revealed the multifaceted nature of discriminatory hiring practices, emphasized asymmetric credibility between NESTs and NNESTs, demonstrated institutionalization of discrimination, and consequently echoed the need for reconfiguring the profession.

There are two insightful points in your question. The first one concerns the viability of analyzing the job announcements of ESL departments. From this point of view, it would certainly be meaningful to cross-investigate the issue in other realms of the profession such as ESL departments, faculty recruitment in higher education and even in other content areas where NNES apply as teachers. The second, and more important, is that you acknowledge that “our professionals use various ways to maintain their power and the unfair advantage of NES applications to obtain employment in not so obvious ways”. There have been a number of institutionalized efforts to overcome widespread discriminatory practices such as the two position statements by TESOL (1992, 2006). It is certainly wonderful (and make us feel hopeful for the future) that TESOL, the global association for English language teaching professionals, acknowledges NNESTs as legitimate professionals in the field of ELT and values professionalism over any inherent characteristic such as race, gender, race, or nativeness. However, I have recently realized that some private language teaching companies have two different ads, one published in TESOL’s Online Career Center free of any discriminatory remarks and another one on their company website which requires native English pronunciation as a job qualification for application. This discrepancy is indeed a very sad example of what I call “creative manifestations of discrimination” and require us, the TESOL community, to “creatively” act against it. Personally speaking, I believe that we still have a long path towards a discrimination-free profession acting in accordance with internationally-recognized professional standards and human rights.


Beckett, S. (1983). Worstward Ho. London: John Calder.

Braine, G. (2010). Nonnative speaker English teachers: Research, pedagogy, and professional growth. New York: Routledge.

Canagarajah, A. S. (2005). Reclaiming the local in language policy and practice. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Crystal. D. (2003).The Cambridge encyclopedia of the English language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Egbert, J. (2007). Quality analysis of journals in TESOL and Applied Linguistics. TESOL Quarterly. 41 (1), pp.157-171.

Holliday, A. (2005). The struggle to teach English as an international language. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Mahboob, A. (2010). The NNEST lens: Non native English speakers in TESOL. Cambridge Scholars Press.

Matsuda, P. K. (2003). Coming to voice: Publishing as a graduate student. In C. P. Casanave& S. Vandrick (Eds.), Writing for publication: Behind the scenes in language education (pp. 39-51). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Medgyes, P. (2001). When the teacher is a non-native speaker. In M. Celce-Murcia (Ed.), Teaching English as a second or foreign language (pp. 429-442). London: Heinle & Heinle.

Moussu, L., & Llurda, E. (2008). Non-native English-speaking English language teachers: History and research. Language Teaching, 41(3), 315–348.

Selvi, A. F. (2011). The non-native speaker teacher. ELT Journal65(2), 187-189.

Selvi, A.F. (2010). ‘All teachers are equal, but some teachers are more equal than others’: Trend analysis of job advertisements in English language teaching. WATESOL NNEST Caucus Annual Review, 1, 156-181. Retrieved from

Selvi, A.F. (2009). A call to graduate students to reshape the field of English language teaching. Essential Teacher. 6 (3-4), 49-51.

Widdowson, H. G. (1994). The ownership of English. TESOL Quarterly, 28(2), 377-389.