Professional Development in ELT through Daily Reflective Prompts

Learning is a never ending process. As teachers and educators, reflective practice about what we do in the classrooms, and why we do the things we do, is something that needs to be addressed more frequently and effectively.

This can be done in so many different ways. Specifically we do them in teacher training sessions after an observed lesson, but I am not aware this continues once we are out of the classroom as learners, going into a classroom as teachers.

You might think CPD occurs through a more informal medium like a friendly chat with a colleague, and you would be right, it does happen in rather informal settings. However, I am now starting to think this process which we often disregard and leave out the one easy chore we feel we can always get around to doing, should really come first and get our undivided and intentional attention.

Even with the busiest of schedules, I’ve decided to commit to a 30-Day challenge to be more intentional on reflective practices for English teachers and I’m starting TODAY, the 1st of May 2023, and taking you on this journey with me!

I’m sending out a reflection prompt to those who have opted in for the challenge through e-mail – the most direct way I’ve found to reach people – and to practice what I preach, I am also taking part in the challenge and wonder what some of my own take-aways might be.

Having said that, I have some nuggets hidden here and there to challenge and dispell common myths in English language teaching and learning, so some prompts will not be as effective for me as they might be for you discovering these prompts day after day.

If you’re already a subscriber you can update your profile preferences here so that you too may receive your daily prompt straight inside your inbox! Make sure I’m not in your spam folder please.

I also think that all this can be used as extra/bonus material for educational related content creators who are experiencing burnout and might want to fuel their ideas and creativity by recording their answers and sharing them with the world as part of the content creation strategy. Kill two birds with one stone, as they say… or the more compassionate replacemente I just discovered writing this cross two hurdles with one leap.

I will choose one of the 7 prompts and write or record my own reflections every Friday, so stay tuned for that also. Let’s not be afraid to share and support reflective practices and those who generously create them for us.

Learning English Native Speakerism Personal

How to introduce yourself as an English teacher

As someone who started studying English at the age of 8, with 2/3 languages already in the mix, I immediately perceived it as my language because I had a more consistent relationship with it and could take it with me in other contexts no matter where I was.

My family moved a lot, therefore I grew up in a variety of contexts and finding one identity to conform to was not an easy task. I went to an international school in Malaysia and that is where my journey with English began. I later moved to the U.S. for just under a year, but to this day it seems as though those were the experiences that led to me knowing English and becoming an English teacher today. That could not be farther from the truth, and I realised that well into my adulthood.

Before my big realisation, I continued to validate my knowledge and skills as an English teacher saying things like “I’m from Armenia, BUT I teach English because I used to live in Malaysia”, “BUT I attended a school in the States”, “BUT I speak English daily to my brother-in-law who is Irish”, or “BUT my grandma used to be an English teacher”, and the list goes on.

It wasn’t until I went to a conference that I spotted my own flawed narrative which gave little to no power to the main character of my life: me!

Why was I not giving myself credit for learning and studying to become an English teacher? Why did I have to distance myself from my own origin to comply with some kind of “norm” that in order to know English, you had to have come in touch with an anglophone culture, or you must have had a distant relative who spoke English to you as a child! It was paradoxical that I was trying to justify having this skill in the way that I was, and it took me several attempts at presenting myself at conferences to catch my own bias towards myself.

Flashforward to the present day:

I am totally confident about being who I am as an English teacher.

I smile when someone asks me if I’m from England or from the States. I say I am neither, I am Armenian.

I no longer feel there is a need to add anything else other than “I’m an English teacher” to anyone I meet for the first time…

…this is obviously followed by the question “where are you from?” with the anticipation of placing me in an anglophone context, and to which I answer, “I’m from Armenia, English is not the official language there, or the second language people speak”.

Most of the times, my confidence in saying that conveys the right message to my interlocutor and they begin to connect the dots. I feel that since my mindset has shifted, I can do much more for the non-native speaker category and help others make the same realisation, that is to say: a skill is not intimately tied to one’s birthplace or experience growing up in an English speaking country.

How to introduce yourself as an English teacher

I’ve created this little worksheet for you that you can use to keep your impostor syndrome on track. Please use it and share any interesting finding in the comments.

Also, please subscribe to my YouTube Page for more videos and content like this.

Native Speakerism

NNEST in 2023 available for REPLAY

The Workshop “NNEST in 2023 – a Global Overview” took place yesterday, 21st of January 2023, but will still be accessible for Replay for those who would like to watch it.

I must warn you it is a little over 2 hours, but totally worth it!

The themes covered were:

➡ Hiring practices in Europe and South-East Asia

➡ The importance of the identity and nationality of teachers

➡ Proficiency tests for English Language Teachers

➡ The issue with “native speaker” ads

➡ How to market and brand yourself as a teacher or language school by changing the narrative

We had an expert panel who spoke on these major issues to a great extent.

↪ You can see for yourself by making a small contribution to support future events like this one right HERE.

Thank you!


Why using Phrasal Verbs makes you a less effective communicator

When we look at English teacher ads on social media there’s often a comparison between “Normal/Basic” English vs. “Native/Advanced” level, and what we see under the latter are idiomatic expression, colloquialism and phrasal verbs.

Just so we are clear, a phrasal verb is a type of verb that is made up of multiple words, typically a base verb and one or more particles (such as prepositions or adverbs).

These particles change the meaning of the base verb, giving the phrasal verb a unique meaning. For example: “She put off the meeting until next week”, the meaning of “put off” in this context is to delay or postpone the meeting.

Since phrasal verbs are typically learnt through exposure and practice, common ones are included as study material for foreign students with the explanation that Native Speakers use these expressions and so they must too. But how true is this?

It is estimated that approximately 365 million of the world’s population can be considered under the very vague definition of the term “native speaker”, however, there are around 1.5 billion speakers of English as a second language worldwide.

The importance of studying phrasal verbs would be to accomodate a minority by speaking “as they speak”, or learning expressions which they themselves might not know how to explain or paraphrase.

One might wonder why it is not the native speaker who needs to be more accomodating in the communication process given the innate proficiency level of English they hold, per definition (I will save that for another post).

Let’s say you have several thousand phrasal verbs under your belt and you find yourself in a multicultural, multinational room. Would you be saying things like:

  1. “To back out” – This phrasal verb means to withdraw from a commitment or agreement.
  2. “To bring up” – This phrasal verb can have multiple meanings, such as to raise a child or to mention a topic in conversation.
  3. “To call off” – This phrasal verb means to cancel or postpone something.
  4. “To stand up” – This phrasal verb has multiple meanings, one of which is to cancel an event or appointment – I was stood up

The answer is both yes and no because it really depends on your awareness level you have of those around you and what is the purpose of the communicative act.

  • Is it to boast about how well you can use these expressions?
  • Is it that you don’t know alternatives for the words you’re using?
  • Are you trying to fit in?
  • Are you trying to confuse or exclude someone from the conversation?

As a teacher I find myself using fewer and fewer phrasal verbs and I teach only the essential ones to learners. If I use them myself I try to provide as much context possible, I leave clues behind and paraphrase what I meant with another go.

I am often disappointed with misunderstandings that occur because of the use of phrasal verbs among international colleagues, and when I can, stealthily, I offer more context for them by saying more on the topic to clarify meaning (not directly offering a translation or teaching!)

Surely you must speak in a way that caters to the receiver of your message, and to do that you must grade your language, just as you would with a student who is struggling. It is a matter of respect towards others, native speaker or not.

Let’s not fill our conversations with inside jokes if all the participants are not made privy. We should know better.

Thursday, 20th April 2023, 6pm CET

Topic: How are our students affected by native Speakerism?

Guest: Kayla McKesey, also known as Teacher Kay Kayla McKesey (she/her), is a Toronto-based educator who began her English teaching career in Sao Paulo, Brazil where she founded Diaspora English Learning – a platform seeks to share the diverse cultures and ethnicities found across the English-speaking world while helping students transform into confident and powerful speakers.


Let’s not make English about British culture

Recently someone suggested that I teach countable and uncountable nouns to children in the primary using British Pounds, in Italy. The lesson would have included a little “market” where children would role play and ask “how much is it?” and then reply “£1.50 please”. You get the idea.

The conversation started something like this: “do you have any pounds at home?”

I liked the idea of bringing more context into the lesson, but I genuinely wondered how children would benefit from the introduction of the a currency that was new to them, the British pound sterling, instead of using one they were more familiar with, the euro.

“Why would you use pounds and not euro?”, I asked my colleague. “Well, they ARE studying English, so it’s good that they learn more about British culture along with it”.

I shook my head thinking, THIS is the face of native speakerism and how educators are unaware of their own detrimental attitude towards non-native English speaking teachers. THIS is a pure example of how NNEST are not given any grace, because their origins and feelings have no place in the English classrooms. For how fitting is it for ME to teach a culture of a country whose spare change I don’t possess to bring to school and speak of… the only foreign land learners can one day visit to practise their English(?)*sarcasm

“Should I bring Armenian Dram, then?” I asked, smiling, “or am I to be excluded from such lesson since this is not MY culture we are talking about?”

Why should I feel belittled for not being a part of GB, or as an English teacher, merely for not wanting to make the lesson about British culture, when I honestly don’t see the point of making it about British culture in the first place.

You see, I wouldn’t worry about teaching currency to kids at that age, and get their little heads wondering about conversions instead of giving them opportunities to use the language. They are just about adding and subtracting whole numbers, learning decimals and place value. Why would anyone want to confuse them even more, with the sole justification of this being part of cultural studies, when all one should say is “your English books show the £ sign but feel free to think of these as the € sign, since it’s what you normally use every day and you don’t live in GB”. Nobody in the class has signed up for learning currencies or Britsh culture, yet all need to speak the language and practice their English skills.

I wouldn’t be writing this if I hadn’t said exactly what I wrote here to my colleague. She didn’t object, instead she reflected.

Let’s not make English about British culture. Let’s pull ourselves out of such boxes. Let’s be more inclusive of our non native staff and never suggest things that can simply be avoided or made more friendly to students and teachers who are not from Great Britain.

I believe all cultures are equally important, but how can learners benefit from that if we are only feeding them with one, supreme culture, as if it were the only one available to master the English language?

I will not stand by and feel inadequate. Nobody owns the language I teach so I will not succumb to the ever-growing tendency of making English about British culture, waving union jacks and speaking of the royals and their corgis and double-decker buses and red phone booths, and tea-time at 5 o’clock, because that is NOT what English is to me, and I bet it’s not what it is for my students.


Hi there!

You might know me from the Instagram page called the_non_native_speaker, where I share my thoughts on the topic of Native Speakerism.

My name is Meri, and I hold a Master’s degree in Language and Cultural Studies from the University of Modena and Reggio, Italy. I also hold a Cambridge CELTA and a Global DELTA Cambridge Diploma from CLIC International House in Seville, Spain.

I am deeply passionate about advocating for equal opportunities in English Language Teaching (ELT), specifically for non-native English speaking teachers.

I used to work as a language teacher and consultant for various renowned companies such as Parmalat, Adecco, 3M, FERCAM, N1 Logistics, and Barilla through private English schools in Emilia Romagna, while currently I work full-time at an International School as an L2 English teacher.

Originally from Yerevan, Armenia, I have lived in several places such as Moscow, Buenos Aires, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, San Diego, Lecce (South Italy), and Parma (Northern Italy).

I enjoy attending and speaking at ELT conferences and workshops, reading books, and performing live. I have presented at ELT Ireland, EAQUALS and IATEFL in 2022 on the topic of Native Speakerism.

My mission is to dismantle prejudice and bias in education, specifically when it comes to NNESTs being denied work opportunities across the globe. Let’s join forces!

Thursday, 20th April 2023, 6pm CET

Topic: How are our students affected by native Speakerism?

Guest: Kayla McKesey, also known as Teacher Kay Kayla McKesey (she/her), is a Toronto-based educator who began her English teaching career in Sao Paulo, Brazil where she founded Diaspora English Learning – a platform seeks to share the diverse cultures and ethnicities found across the English-speaking world while helping students transform into confident and powerful speakers.

Native Speakerism Teacher Talk


ELT Ireland Bulletin, Issue n. 8 – 19th February 2022

Six years have passed since Silvana Richardson’s eye-opening plenary gave an insight into how non-native teachers were struggling to find equal opportunities as native English speakers. Even though many field professionals are highly aware of the discriminatory behaviours of school employers, not much has changed in the job advertisements looking to hire unqualified native speakers over qualified professionals. It is a long battle which can be won only by raising enough awareness towards the preconceived notion of what constitutes being an English teacher.

The reasons behind the preference of Native Speakers

There can be a variety of reasons for the preference of native speaker teachers, depending on the country one lives in. Private schools in Italy claim that a native-teacher is what students want. They are convinced that their customers are willing to pay for lessons that are conducted by teachers who solely come from the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, because of the authenticity of the learning experience. This leads to many recruiters requesting a copy of the candidate’s passport to make sure they are in fact citizens of one of the nations mentioned above. Another explanation schools use to attract clientele is that their teachers are mother tongue speakers. They like to perpetuate the idea of one accent being superior to another, insinuating that anyone who speaks with a different accent is therefore an “inadequate teacher” who does not provide the English model which is familiar to the entire world of English speakers.

Addressing the issue from a rational point of view

Nowadays, very few people in the world live in the exact same place as they were born. Whether it is for a job opportunity or studies, people move, travel and settle in any place their hearts desire. We can say that this is definitely one of the great perks of living in the 21st century. Subsequently, many children today come from a variety of backgrounds, there is a mixture of cultural contexts, accents and races that simply cannot and should not be ignored any longer. It is not unlikely to find more than one nationality in the same family, or children of immigrant parents who are attending a school in a language that is foreign to that of their own. What is different today, compared to the not so recent past, is that the personal situations of every individual are now enriched with unique experiences and stories. These distinguishing features that make up a person need to be taken into account regardless of where one was born, and it is extremely important that we keep that in mind at all times if we want to go past the traditional definitions of what constitutes being a native speaker or teacher in 2022.

The post-colonial varieties of English are conventionally called “non-native” varieties, therefore, a heated dispute emerged in the Journal of Pragmatics with some linguists arguing that it was implicitly racist to use such terminology, as English was in actual fact the native language of many speakers of those varieties (Singh et al. 1995; Singh 1998). Whether or not one agrees with such divergence among linguistic definitions, we can all agree that during a recruitment process, most qualified “non-native” teachers pay a high price for such whimsical and pre-historic definitions used to categorise language teachers.  While it is unlikely that we will hear about Indian English or Singapore English being taught at an international school level, we must understand that varieties of English are not to be demonised. If we consider the vast array of English accents and what model of Received Pronunciation we should foster (traditionally the British English accent is regarded as the standard RP), we might find it impossible to determine what “neutral” or global English sounds like. The truth is: most of the world is not made up of native speakers – as much as it might pain British English traditionalists to admit – and local varieties can do much more for English language learners.

Joan Pujolar and Bernadette O’Rourke, in their position paper entitled The debates on “new speakers” and “non-native” speakers as symptoms of late modern anxieties over linguistic ownership, speak of how the discomfort with the concept of “native speaker” in the area of English language teaching had been growing for some time. According to Crystal (2003), non-native speakers of English outnumber native speakers by three to one, which makes all the difference, because most publishing corporations market their teaching materials towards non-native teachers and speakers accordingly.

To sum up: We all know that the majority of English teacher professionals are not native-speakers; We are aware that most of the published materials in ELT are directed towards non-natives teachers and learners; We have developed an understanding that a main standard model English simply does not exist because of the different varieties of English even in those countries known to have English as their “Native Language”.

The questions I would like to pose are: How can we move forward from here? Will there be a change for Non Native Teachers across the globe? Can we overcome this hurdle together?

How to promote equal job opportunities for a better tomorrow

Non-native learners and teachers are a potential source of resistance, because they have the chance to object to this lapsed hegemony as aware and active participants, and as people who have witnessed and experienced the negative perception that recruiters and unaware students have against non-native teachers. We now have the right tools to bridge the gap of understanding, social media being one amongst many, and do something about how non-native teachers will be regarded in the future.  

One of the most traditional and powerful ways to spread information is through word of mouth. It is something that everyone can do. Therefore, simply speaking about the problem can go a long way and raise awareness on the issue. This is what any individual can do starting right now. Example Situation: Any time someone wants a reference to a language teacher and asks you where the teacher is from (expecting to hear New York or London), be sure to make the effort in explaining the difference between where one is from and what qualification one holds.

Schools should promote the inclusion of globally recognised qualifications as a requirement to enter public and private institutions for teaching English as a foreign language. From a personal point of view, I have had little to no attention despite holding a DELTA Cambridge in Parma, Italy. My name and nationality have been the biggest difficulty I have had to overcome every single time I have had to apply for a job.

We need to realise that we are not alone, and that these instances of malpractice against non-native teachers have already been addressed legally by official communications on the matter.

In fact, according to the Official Journal of the European Communities, article 21:“Any discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.”

Hence, we should all be more alert towards advertisements and job offers coming from institutions and people who claim that having a qualification to teach is preferable but not necessary. These claims discredit professional teachers who have invested in their education and careers to help learners advance in their own chosen paths. 

The more we, as a community, insist on seeing the same respect and opportunities given to non-native teachers as to native and mother tongue speakers or teachers, the sooner our future as English language teachers will begin to seem brighter.


Crystal, D., (2003) English as a Global Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

O’Rourke, B. and Pujolar, J. (2021) The debates on “new speakers” and “non-native” speakers as symptoms of late modern anxieties over linguistic ownership. In Slavkov, N. (ed.) The Changing Face of the “Native Speaker”: Perspectives from Multilingualism and Globalization. Series: Trends in Applied Linguistics [TAL], 31. De Gruyter. ISBN 9781501512353 (In Press), 1 – 21

Singh, R. et al., (1995) On “new/non-native” Englishes: A quartet. Journal of Pragmatics, 24 (3), pp.283– 294.


Charted of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000/C 364/01) (Accessed 27/09/2021)

Native Speakerism Personal Teacher Talk

I have a dream…(NN)EST

My journey teaching English as a non-native English speaking teacher.

When my parents named me they wrote my name in Armenian, as they are Armenians at birth themselves and so am I.

The Armenian language is very complex and ancient. It has 39 letters and it is really hard to learn. I personally never learned how to write Armenian, but that’s another story.

My name was spelled “մէրի” (mēri)… and it is pronounced like the English “Mary” name. However, since our documents had to be translated into a more international and known language, my name was suddenly spelled M-E-R-I.

The way my name was spelled soon brought on to many misconceptions as to who I really was. Spelling errors which could have been easily avoided, bureaucratic problems and mistrust, a bunch of lost opportunities in ELT and, well…funny stories too.

I will not get into now.

Instead, I will tell you how I got my first students.

Flash forward to when I came to live in Parma, Italy.

I began working in Italy as an English teacher, I quickly realised it was a better idea to write “Mary” on public ads to get a callback and say I was a mother tongue speaker instead of saying I was an English teacher with this or that qualification. It always worked. It was easier to start a conversation by saying that rather than have no conversation at all. Soon enough I had my first private students and a year’s contract.

I concluded I would first teach a lesson to later speak about who I actually was. Once I had earned my students’ trust, I could come clean and explain my position, as I am doing right now here in writing. I still feel like a fraud when I spell my name M-A-R-Y in public ads, btw.

My son running around in Piazza Duomo, Parma (Italy) – May 2021

I needed to make a living and I was being penalised for a spelling mistake, and even more so for being Armenian (the unknown country that would scare pupils away).

On paper, I had no business teaching English in Italy, and unless I somehow had a chance to speak to a recruiter directly in English they would never hire me based on my CV alone. This still continues today.

My conclusions:

People are afraid of the unknown. The old fight or flight response has seen generations after generations make the same mistakes in judgement, that is categorising people based on their origin, name, colour, accent, etc.

Somehow it is easier to make sense of the world by sticking labels onto things so as to keep everything well organised, in specific slots. If you give “it” a name, “it” will seem more friendly and less unknown.

I do think this reasoning might have made more sense in the past when one was born and raised in a given town or city, had spent their entire life in their hometown, and never as much as laid foot in another territory. Maybe their general traits could be more easily identified or guessed based on their environment. Yet, I also realise we could argue that we would not be able to define and categorise a person in that circumstance much like any other human being. We can be complex that way.

So what is the dream I have?

I dream for English teachers not to be categorised into Native vs. Non Native speaking teachers. It is not a competition as much as it is a desire to have equal opportunities in the job market.

I wish I never have to explain WHY I can speak English as someone who was born in a Non English Speaking Country ( or whose name is spelled Meri) to anyone who is pondering whether to hire me as their English teacher – in my experience, no one expects Armenians to know English well, and frankly, not many know what “Armenia” is. What people do know is that Armenia is not the UK, and definitely not the US, and that is just enough to blow any deal as of today.

The long and winding road of TEFL/ TESL. The_Non_Native_Speaker.

Native Speakerism

The impact of Native Speaker ads in ELT

Students often do not know what is good for them.

I will say it again, this time more clearly:
New English students don’t really know anything about teacher qualifications, what native speakerism is, the struggles that non native speakers face, or how good their teachers are. 

The message for the longest time has been, native speaker teachers are good (meaning non native teachers are bad).

Hence, we find ourselves having to justify WHY we are English teachers at all, being born in so and so place, not speaking like Her Majesty.

The narrative has become counterproductive for students because they find themselves in a room with a native speaker and not a native or non-native TEACHER

The problems that arise with that are many, because speakers who are not teachers:

  1. Can’t speak in a clear, comprehensible way so that ANY level learner can understand them (grading language and local accent come to mind)
  2. They speak too fast because they just speak – meanwhile when a teacher speaks he or she is actually listening to him/herself through the students’ mind and adapting lexical choices just enough for them to understand, yet be challenged at the same time (comprehensible input +1)
  3. The use of unfamiliar and inadequate expressions simply comes from not knowing which elements are relevant to be taught and which are not as important. 

“…native-speakerism needs to be addressed at the level of the prejudices embedded in everyday practice, and dominant professional discourses must be put aside if the meanings and realities of students and colleagues from outside the English-speaking West are to be understood.”

Holliday, 2005. The Struggle to Teach English as an International Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

There is a lot you can teach, but will it be useful to that particular student or group?

Experienced teachers almost always know what the next hurdle is, and they know how to guide you to overcome that specific hurdle eithout overwhelming you with unnecessary information in that moment.

The reason students find themselves in this condition – with NON-teachers teaching and unemployed teachers rolling their eyes – is because the truth has been concealed from them. 

Potential language learners have been brainwashed by ads telling them a NATIVE TEACHER is all they need, but a native SPEAKER is all they get.

They have been told they can SOUND native if they have a NATIVE TEACHER.

They have been told that if their teacher was born in a non English speaking country, then he or she cannot be a teacher.

I don’t know about you, but I’m only glad doctors don’t face the same discrimination. 

We – qualified teachers, native or not – are professionals and should be treated as such. Please share this blog post to raise awareness of discriminatory practices being fed to the public.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Teacher Talk Uncategorized



There is nothing instant, fun or simple about studying a language for someone who needs to thrive on learning a new system of communication and whose job depends on it. We do not all have the same needs and wants. So before being enthusiastic and eager to teach, be more empathetic and understanding of who is sitting in front of you and their own engagement level. Never assume it is easy for them, no matter how enthusiastic YOU are about their journey.


If you are using only English to teach your foreign class, never ask if students understood what they just read or listened to. Some may say yes, some might shake theirs heads or nod. In fact, their answer would not give you ANY proof whatsoever as to what really was or was not understood. Every activity that is considered INPUT of the target language (TL) should always come with a brief comprehension task which will then inform you if what mattered was, in fact, understood by them. How deeply you think they actually understood something comes into play as well. This means preparing input beforehand to guide your students towards what YOU, the teacher, knows to be valuable to that particular class, and posing the right questions to investigate how well something was indeed understood. 


Most teacher trainers advise us not to use the NO word as often, as it is discouraging to some students as well as repetitive, negative, counterproductive, and so on.

Some suggestions you could adopt might be:

  • “Could you say that again?” – with dubious face expression (this allows time to self-correct);
  • “Have another go” – you could also give a second chance by ignoring the wrong answer and giving another hint or two, or three;
  • “Very close, actually it is better to say …”


First of all who is WE? The nation your are from? The town you now live in? The board panel you summon every weekend to decide on everything English related? I get it, it makes everything you say next sound more authoritative and official, it adds more credit to what is coming next. I personally feel that even non-native english speaking teachers do this too, because WE have the impostor syndrome rooted within ourselves, but we must absolutely refrain from this habit. Why? Because unless you are teaching a particular culture or specific RP, it is irrelevant what or how YOU (the plural you) say anything. English needs to be seen a a global language and the sooner that happens, the better for teachers and learners alike.  #whodiedandmadeyouking



The world is full of English teachers who have the tendency to speak to full grown adults as if they were primary students. Just because you are an English teacher do not assume your students are beneath you in any way. Do not go into “school teacher – pupil” mode with any of your adult students. 

I do not care if you are teaching “MY NAME IS”, do it normally or stick to teaching children. Normally meaning: no flashcards, no bag of tricks, no “Simon says”. Do not be a goofball with your adult students, they are past that age!

Photo Credit: @Annalightpro


We have all seen those discriminatory ads, where most schools either promote their services by using mother tongue speakers as their ‘unique’ strategy for getting new clients, or search for teachers who are solely English speakers, rather than actual trained teachers. 

Let’s agree though that no matter the negative emotions we might still get from seeing the NNEST (Non-native English Speaking Teachers) category pushed around and bullied, we can still build our careers and have a competitive edge over our ‘native rivals’. 



In Italy, job interviews are conducted in Italian, as most recruiters prefer to speak in their L1. I would highly suggest you pretend English is the only language you speak. At the risk of making THEM feel uncomfortable, you really want to show off your skills the minute you step into that office, or receive that call. 


People often use stereotypes to identify others, especially if you are a foreigner, and most likely you do it too. So instead of acting like a victim and saying ‘this is not fair’, talk more about yourself and let people in. The more you speak about your background, your passion for teaching and experience in the field of education, the more you are likely to get a callback and set any preconceptions and misconceptions aside. 

Personally, when I speak Italian, recruiters compliment me. Regardless of the fact that I have been living in Italy for the past 20 years. I then quickly remind them I am not a ‘native speaker’ of Italian either, but I consider myself bilingual in the two languages that are NOT my actual ‘mother tongue’. In fact, I still do not read or write in my actual mother tongue (Armenian)…LABEL THAT! 


The fact that you are a NON native teacher, means you speak MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE, which means that you are either bilingual or you have studied a language successfully and had the experience of being a language learner yourself (or even both those things). What is the advantage here? As a Non native teacher you are more likely to understand the daily struggles students face when learning English as their L2. In fact, you might even say that you have become an expert at learning languages and believe you can help your students succeed, just like you have.

4. BUILD YOURSELF UP: TWO is better than ONE. 

Less is NOT more when it comes to skills and competences. Rather than feeling like an impostor, because the ‘system’ often make you feel unwanted, remind yourself that language is a means of communication and you have the power to reach more people, build relations and trust with those around you, but most importantly with yourself. YES, I SAID IT! Give yourself credit and others will follow.


You might feel insecure and fed up with having to prove your worth, but not everyone’s out to get you. There are plenty of recruiters and job ads looking for professionals like YOU. When called for an interview, never speak from a distorted perspective, they might not want to ask the same daft questions you have become accustomed to answer. 

Believe it or not, there are like-minded people who know exactly what your qualifications mean and how hard they are to get and, most importantly, they are willing to bond, interact and get to know you. Whatever you do, do not automatically assume they are critical of you. Don’t start off on the wrong foot. 

Photo Credit @Annalightpro