Twitter Talking Time flying out of the NEST

10

August 27, 2010 by Willy Cardoso

One of my favorite things on Twitter is to observe and whenever possible to engage in unplanned conversations. It’s really interesting to see a topic getting hot and how some people enter in the middle of the conversation and contribute a lot to the discussion and how others drop out of it unnoticed even if they started the whole thing.

Conversations on Twitter are very organic, dynamic and complex; and it usually scares new users. The best thing I guess, is to observe first, make a comment or two, and increase your participation to the extent that you can cope with all info flooding in.

I’m glad that now I’m more comfortable with it, but if you’re getting started and feel a bit lost like everyone once did check out this goodie:

The English Language Teachers Guide to Twitter by Karenne Sylvester

The idea of this post is to share other blog posts and articles that I found and a little job hunt I did while revisiting the great conversation that emerged yesterday.

The main subject was

the never-dead poignant

NEST/non-NEST debate

(native English-speaking teacher vs non-da-di-da)

Topic that generated 80 comments on this Ken Wilson’s post, in which he later added “the really interesting content is in the comments below.”

Here are 11 tweets I selected from the tweebate:

  • What triggered the whole thing

  • 50 minutes later

  • How to increase students’ awareness of what is good teaching and bad teaching? Whose notion of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are we talking about?
  • Marisa Constantinides describes a bad lesson on How not to teach English based on her vast experience as a teacher and teacher trainer and many teachers world-wide agreed that was pretty bad.
  • I also had my take on 9 Steps to Prevent Learning stepping away from my role as a teacher and trainer and seeing it from my experience as a foreign language learner.
  • Everyday someone posts about what is good and what is bad, but no one can know it for sure, after all chances are you non-native-da-di-da advocates against audiolingualism but became fluent because of it.

  • What’s the minimum level of English teachers should have in order to teach it? Who decides? In some countries, like Brazil, if the language level required is too high, there won’t be enough teachers able to do the job.

  • I didn’t find this particular study by Jack Richards, but I did find two interesting articles related to the conversation.

My late response to this question. It does.

Discriminatory hiring practices surely influence the market, among other things. And I was particularly interested in it so I started to ‘look for a job’, for the sake of finding other parameters.

I’ve always thought that at some time in my career it would be relevant to join a world-wide renowned institution. So I started browsing International House World jobs list and found that out of the 24 ads aimed at English teachers, 13 required the applicant to be native-speaker of the language.

The reasons:

LOCAL MARKET RULES

  • The IH schools below say: Unfortunately due to the local market, the school can only accept applications from native English speakers. This is not a policy of IHWO but a local requirement.
  • Bogota, Colombia | Almaty, Kazakhstan | Astana, Kazakhstan | Jounieh Lebanon | Pamplona, Spain | Muscat, Oman | Braga, Portugal | Prague*, Czech Republic (*can only accept a limited number of non-native speakers.)

    LOCAL MARKET AND WORK PERMIT

    • IH Palermo, Italy and IH Benghazi, Libya say:
    • Unfortunately, due to the local market and work permit requirements the school can only employ native speaker teachers holding EU passports.

    REQUIRE NEST BUT DON’T SAY WHY

    • IH Hanoi – Viet Nam

    BEING A NEST IS NOT A REQUIREMENT at the places below.

    • They didn’t say what level of English the teacher is expected to have.
    • Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina | Mexico City, Mexico | Bydgoszcz, Poland | Katowice, Poland | Koszalin, Poland | Torun, Poland | Moscow, Russian Federation | Huelva, Spain | Cordoba, Spain

    STRANGE things might happen in Ukraine regarding work visa, considering it’s the same country I didn’t quite get what the deal is.

    • DNK, Ukraine says: “International House DNK has an opening for native and non-native speaking English teachers. The school will assist in all applications and processes where necessary”.
    • Kharkiv, Ukraine: doesn’t mention NEST requirement, and says “The school arranges and pays for work permit issue”.
    • Lviv, Ukraine: “Unfortunately due to the local market, the school can only accept applications from native English speakers. This is not a policy of IHWO but a local requirement”.
    • Odessa, Ukraine: “We are looking for enthusiastic qualified native speaking individual to work in our school. Unfortunately, due to local market and work permit restrictions we are only able to consider native speaker, EU citizens for this position.”

    Moving on in the ‘job hunt’ thing I paid a visit to British Council’s jobs list and found that my not being born in an English-speaking country or my not being raised by English-speaking parents wouldn’t cut my prospects in half, should I want to apply for all of the 11 ads listed, to work in countries such as Syria, South Korea, Romania, Egypt, Italy, Lebanon, UAE, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Lybia.

    As regards language, The British Council have in their requirements statements like:

    • You must be highly proficient in the use of English (IELTS 8.5, CPE Grade A)”
    • “You will be a proficient English user (CEF C2)”
    • “Highly proficient use of English, first degree or equivalent qualification (NQF L6/L7)”
    • “You should be a highly proficient user of English with a degree from an English Speaking country”

    My point in showing you all this is definitely not to praise or devalue so and such institutions. I don’t even know whether they preach what they say, I don’t know them and never had business with them. The folks working where they are will tell, and I’d be glad to learn what actually happens beyond the job description. Moreover, what I showed here is just a tiny sample of the market, and the names are the first two that popped up in my head. (for some subliminal reason)

    What ticks me off is that I believe one can’t blame it on the market, when one is part of it. If an institution, its leaders, advisors, trainers, teachers really believe the NEST NNEST dichotomy is erroneous, they do things in order to change it.

    On the other hand, if certain institutions really think NESTs are the best, fine by me, it’s their business, but don’t play the ‘equal opportunities’ game; hypocrisy is ugly!

    So, there we had important issues that I’d encourage you to bring to your staffroom and why not to your classroom, after all those in it will be the ones most affected by any of this conversation, ain’t that right?

    ……..

    My big THANKS to all of you who shared your thoughts and experiences, as far as I could track you are:

    • Arjana Blazic @abfromz
    • Nick Jaworski @TurklishTEFL
    • Jason Renshaw @englishhaven
    • Ceri Jones @cerirhiannon
    • Cecilia Coelho @cecilialcoelho
    • Henrick Oprea @hoprea
    • Mike Harrison @harrisonmike
    • Tyson Seburn @seburnt
    • Jeremy Harmer @harmerj
    • Marisa Constantinides @Marisa_C

    If I forgot to mention someone and this someone wants to be mentioned please tell me.

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    10 thoughts on “Twitter Talking Time flying out of the NEST

    1. Rick says:

      Hi Willy,

      The conversation seems to have been profitable.That’s what I like about PLNs and all the conversation that takes place on twitter! I’ve just blogged about our twitter talk, too. Anyway, just to inform readers that I was mentioning a talk given by Jack Richards in Brasília in 2009 – no texts, just notes. 🙂

      Cheers,

      Henrick

    2. Cecilia Coelho says:

      Hi Willy!

      Yes, that discussion yesterday sure was interesting. As a newbie at twitter I saw myself on your description at how it can scare you at first, leave you a little lost at all that goes on. And despite the fact I feel (felt?) intimidated by what was being said in some of the discussions that caught my attention, I have a problem, which is not being able to stop myself if I have something to say – no matter how dumb it may be, or how much I regret it afterwards. So, here’s what I have to say about your post:

      The NEST / non-NEST dichotomy is something that always comes up. Being a non-NEST I’d like to think it doesn’t really matter. I do believe there’s a minimum language proficiency you should have before thinking about becoming a language teacher. But after you have achieved that proficiency, it’s all about the teaching skills, the drive, the people skills. We all know there are bad teachers in both categories.

      And instead of having any answers, I’d rather share with you and see what you think about something I’ve often wondered myself: as a (long time ago) English learner yourself, do you think non-NESTs are probably a more adequate choice to lower levels, since they know and understand specific difficulties the student will have? I mean, as a teacher who has been doing this for 17 years and whose L1 is Portuguese, I know what my students (whose L1 is also Portuguese) will struggle with when I teach them this or that grammar point. So I plan, I prepare for it, and when the question arises, I’m usually ready for it.

      Don’t start throwing stones at me yet people! This is a legitimate question. And of course NESTs can also acquire that after teaching STs with the same L1 for a while – or even STs with different L1s, for I imagine some difficulties are not culturally-related.

      Your post got me thinking. And I loved the way you put it, all the links (will try to get back to each of them later). It has been great, really enriching, being on twitter and meeting people like you. So, thank you : )

      • Thanks for your thoughtful post Cecilia!

        Regarding your question of who teaches beginners better, it’s a hard nut to crack. I believe everyone can do it well, but our experience in Brazil tells us we do it better, which is understandable cause we don’t see many NESTs actually teaching beginners, we ourselves take for granted that they take care of the higher levels, which few brazilians can do well, and don’t train them to teach the basic ones, at the same time we don’t push NNEST too hard to teach high levels. So, our own comfort zone end up reinforcing the dichotomy. Also, I think this difference happens more often in an EFL setting, like ours, I’ve seen great native-speakers giving elementary lessons in the UK. So as I said, everyone can do it.

    3. Hey Willy,

      Great to be part of that discussion recently with you and others. I agree that this is something really useful and interesting that you can get out of Twitter, but also that it is daunting to start with! I found even more so when I started following the #edchat discussions, due to the sheer volume of teachers and educators tweeting. What’s good about these discussions that pop up organically is that it can be easier to follow.

      I’ve got limited experience of the NEST/NNEST situation, only really being in it when I was in Pamplona a couple of years ago. Perhaps this was my inexperienced teacher with head down mindset, but I didn’t notice any bad feeling towards each other between NESTs and NNESTs. Where I am now (an FE college) it’s almost exclusively native-speaker. So it is really interesting to hear from teachers who are NNESTs and about their particular situations.

      Great to fall in to that conversation. When’s the next one??

      Mike

      PS – I am astounded by the comprehensiveness of your post, amazed by the difference in hiring practice amongst the schools in the Ukraine. Very good read =)

      • Thanks once again for dropping by Mike!

        I still can’t cope with scheduled hashtag discussions. However interesting and democratic they are, I feel like in a crowded meeting where everyone speaks at the same time, it gets me dizzy. But I’ll keep giving it a try every now and then.

        In fact, I haven’t noticed bad feelings between NESTs and NNESTs at the places I’ve worked, I noticed however some discontentment from NNESTs towards school admin, because of different privileges foreigners had.

        I’m glad the long hours I put to get this post done was worth the trouble. I wish people from the places I mention came here and had their say though.

    4. arjana says:

      Hi Willy,
      I guess I’m one of those that start a disucssion and then drop out of it unnoticed. Really, I had no idea about the conversation going on after I left. (I always have this uneasy feeling that fantastic things are happening on twitter when I’m away – and now it proves to be true!:-)

      Thanks for this great post and wonderful links!
      All the best
      Arjana

      • Hi Arjana!
        You were actually THE one who started the whole thing when you tweeted the poll. Hope we can share much more and start interesting conversations, even if we don’t stick around to see how it unfolds.

        Best
        Willy.

    5. […] in Twitter Talking Time flying out of the NEST […]

    6. […] Twitter Talking Time flying out of the NEST by Willy C. Cardoso (@willycard) […]

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