To all Non-Native Teachers out there! Here are 5 TIPS that will motivate you to get out there and use your skills to your advantage!
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’.
1. SPEAK ENGLISH!
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.
2. TELL YOUR STORY, GET RID OF YOUR LABELS
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!
3. BE THE MODEL YOUR STUDENTS FOLLOW
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.
5. STOP GETTING DEFENSIVE
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.