Native speakerism

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Native speakerism

Postby Richard » 29 Oct 2019 12:19

If you wanted to do research in the area of native speakerism (i.e. the bias in favour of native speaker teachers) in Thailand, what sorts of data would you collect and what would they show?

For example, you might take photos of the adverts on the back of school vans which, for private schools, are often lists of resources that the school has (swimming pool, music lessons, native speaker teachers). What proportion of school van adverts mention NESTs? For those schools which include NESTs in their adverts, the school believes that parents identify having NESTs as a key advantage for a school which justifies the fees. In turn, this implies that the school believes that there is a wide social perception that NESTs make the best English teachers.
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Re: Native speakerism

Postby stevelouw » 30 Oct 2019 12:03

You could have a look at the hiring practices of a school. This might be something simple like counting how many teachers they have in the language department and where they are from. The ratio of local to foreign teacher could indicate how much emphasis is given to language learning with a 'native' teacher, and then the nationalities themselves may be indicative of the school's policies. Some schools may limit themselves to teachers form the 'big 5' English speaking countries, some may have caucasian teachers from non-big 5 countries like Poland, and some schools may make use of teachers from other Asian countries, like Singapore or the Philippines.

This is a more invasive approach than Richard's bus example, and implies you have some access to the school. And if so, why not do some interviewing, and find out if there are differences in the teachers' schedules or workload. A school may differentiate the kinds of classes or grades given to specific kinds of teachers. For instance, a school may have local teachers teach certain levels or classes, and 'native' teachers teaching higher ones, or the upper tier classes. This may tell us what schools see or value in the different teachers - that native teachers are best used in pronunciation classes, and that local teachers are more useful in writing classes (as an example).

If there is no direct access to the schools, one could look at the job boards, like on, to see what kinds of teachers the schools are asking for. In one study from China, the researchers submitted resumes to jobs with different names and photos (representing teachers from the UK, from an African country, and from an Asian country), and compared the schools' responses to these fake applicants.
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Re: Native speakerism

Postby donparo » 09 Nov 2019 08:59

In one of our classes, I discussed about how job advertisements in Thailand indicate preferences for NESTs. Oftentimes, these preferences are explicitly stated in the adverts like, "Only native speakers are welcome to apply". Similar to what Steve has mentioned, jobs posting on and can be the sources of data. However, I would like to take a more holistic approach to the issue and investigate how students, parents and school administrators come to a conclusion that NESTs are better teachers. Does society's expectation influence their mindset with parents being so proud of their children taught by NESTs? Do NESTs' speaking abilities (fluency, pronunciation) inspire learners to achieve native-like speaking competency?

Another possible aspect to study is how NEST give grades. I have heard of cases where NESTs have given students the highest possible grades so as to keep their jobs and avoid being questioned about their teaching competencies. With that, they received compliments from parents and the school even hailed them as the best teachers.

I have no clue about the possible outcome but it might be worth exploring.
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Re: Native speakerism

Postby justthedave » 11 Nov 2019 15:51

I am lucky enough to be a peer-reviewer for a few academic journals.... In doing my assigned reviewer duties last week, I come across some rather interesting information that I thought would be fitting for this forum. These particular researchers analyzed 13,000 ESL job postings mostly for China, South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong on the likes of Indeed and ESL Cafe to better understand the ESL job market hiring criteria.

Of all the 13,000 job postings which were gathered, they found that a frighteningly high percentage of these job postings specifically asked for some form of specific ESL certification and some manner of "perfect" native English speaker.

What they mean by "perfect" Native English Speaker is someone from one of the BIG five countries (Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States) SORRY STEVE :D , between 25-35 years old with a minimum of a BA or B.Ed., and a minimum of 1-3 years of experience. Some job postings even stipulated "female only"...

I was curious about the validity of this research, so I confidentially asked some of my friends who are in the teacher recruiting business in the countries mentioned above. They ALL verified that even if the job postings do not outright state the "criteria" that they are told by the schools and language centers to "weed out " the undesirables... One of my dearest friends spoke to me "off the record"... They said that gender, skin color, ethnicity, and overall appearance is often the only hiring criteria that the "SCHOOLS and PARENTS" look at when recruiting new teachers. They continued that the administration and parents alike believe that the "person who owns English" is the best person to teach English...

I need to stop here. :x I would rather not go into any more detail about what my friend and I spoke about concerning the hiring criteria, nor would I like to express my opinion on this forum... :evil:
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