Saturday, April 16, 2016

Interview with Burcu Akyol and Marek Kiczkowiak #iatefl2016

Following Silvana Richardson's plenary, a panel with Burcu Akyol (who I happened to meet last year in TESOL Athens), Marek Kiczkowiak, Christopher Graham and Josh Round about "nativespeakerness", discrimination and prejudice.
Nik Peachey interviewed the two, asking them how they feel about this issue and how it is in their part of the world.
Burcu shared her personal experiences in Turkey, saying that back in 2009, she applied with the same presentation bon in Turkey and IATEFL and in her home country she wasn't accepted because she was non-native, but in England, not only was she accepted, but she had a lot of people in the audience as well.
Not being accepted made her have a negative self perception, although she feels that she didn't deserve this.
She adds that the policy makers' attitudes in Turkey have to change and also they have to increase teacher education, not only methodology, but also language skills.
Nik added that when he was in Turkey he met excellent teachers and Burch continued to say that things are slowly changing to the better.
Marek mentioned his site TEFL equity advocates , saying that he too faced discrimination when he moved to Belgium and that he still can't find a job. The first year he was in Belgium, he presented along with his DELTA trainer in a conference in Belgium about this crucial issue and that's how the idea for the site was born. There you can find stories of teachers, books, resources, lesson plans and a lot of teachers who share the same problems and feelings.
He also mentions that he also does some research in academic journals and shares it which is difficult to find publicly.
Nik asked if it is actually the customers' expectation to find a native teacher, but both interviewees referred to  Silvana Richardson's plenary again and said that this is not exactly an issue.
Burcu stressed the need for balance and that different teachers have different strengths and weaknesses and in some cases they complement each other.
Nik mentioned that in his school 75% of the teachers is billingual and that the term "non-native" sounds negative.
Marek also said something about stereotypes, for example in Japan they actually separate the teachers to "conversation" teachers and "exam" teachers.
The whole situation can be very frustrating, because most teachers are highly qualified.
Nik mentioned that 80% of English teachers are NNESTs.
In the end Burcu said that she hopes for a change to the better with the power of social media.

PS. My personal thoughts:  So I guess this was this year's big issue and everybody is talking about equity. They should. It is really unfair actually to have studied 4 and 6 years and continue to study and lose a job by somebody who has only done 1 month of training and is native. I am not saying that there are no qualified NESTs, but there are A LOT who aren't. Food for thought for the employers. Thank you.

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