As the importance of the English language increased over the years, so too did the number of people travelling to other countries to learn this crucial language. English it seems is a key that unlocks a multitude of opportunities and can help achieve new heights in their professional career. That’s where English as a second language(ESL) teachers come in. A lucrative market exists for those with the skills and qualifications to teach English to those who need it.
As a result, supply has stepped up to meet the demand. Hordes of eager graduates see English teaching as an exciting way to save money while travelling the world and embracing other cultures. There is however an unfortunate obstacle that some, indeed many of these individuals encounter. Indeed, the deck has been stacked against them, for schools around the world have bought into the myth of the native speaker.
A native speaker is a person who speaks a language to a high degree of excellence, as it is his or her mother tongue. So far so good. The thing is however that while schools have for a long time advertised having native speakers as teachers, these teachers typically hail from a few majority caucasian, Anglo Saxon countries. The usual suspects are the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa. Other countries whose native language is English and who produce quality English teachers with clear accents, are simply ignored. Some companies even go as far as to state that this is due to “visa reasons” as though visas for other countries would be too much of a hassle to obtain.
As a native of Malta, I have suffered this indirect form of discrimination. I’ve had to send hundreds of CVs, in the full knowledge that I was fighting a losing battle. What use were my years of experience or indeed my qualifications? Why bother doing my DELTA or DipTesol when a large number of vacancies blatantly state that only nationals of the aforementioned countries need apply? My argument here is not simply that being native or non-native does not make you a good or bad teacher per se. Rather, it is that the EFL industry is being woefully shortsighted in refusing to acknowledge vast numbers of genuine native speakers merely because they’re either unaware of their existence, or more likely because they couldn’t be bothered. I won’t go into skin colour preferences and other considerations although some countries like South Korea in particular have been known to actively discriminate even against native speakers who don’t look “white enough.”
To be frank, my dear fellow non-recognized native speakers, I fear we find ourselves very much grasping the short end of the stick. We were not born in one of the key passport countries and thus are at a distinct disadvantage from the get go. While several equality issues regarding race or gender have been resolved in our time, the EFL industry remains actively discriminatory, seemingly concerned more about country of origin than it is of teacher quality or reliability. It’s like entering a ring or stadium to compete against someone who already has the referee’s favour.
In conclusion, I do understand that the tone of this argument is somewhat negative and indeed, I am quite upset that I have to send hundreds of CVs just to get the odd skype interview, while others with perhaps a fraction of the ability or experience are asked when they can start working for the overseas company. There is perhaps one silver lining however. Adversity builds character, and while I wouldn’t blame you for turning away from EFL if you find fairer and more lucrative areas of employment, if you stick to your guns, sheer numbers mean you should be able to land a job eventually.
Perhaps if more people are made aware of the ways the EFL industry is shooting itself in the foot and closing its doors on thousands of excellent native speakers from all corners of the globe, things can be changed for the benefit of all parties concerned, and the myth of the caucasian only native speaker can be dismantled once and for all so people have the chance to compete not on the basis of where their mother gave birth to them, but of whether they can actually cut it as a teacher or not. Now wouldn’t that be something!
A job is a social contract in which you trade time for money(both human constructs) working for a person or company. As money is required for most people in our world, this is a necessary evil for many. Although I strongly believe that one must find ways to support oneself and prosper by starting one’s own business and being his own boss, that is beside the point as far as this article goes.
Having agreed that it may sometimes be necessary to work and indeed for those of us who have not been born with a silver spoon in our mouths, this would seem to be the only plausible way forward, the question becomes: how do you find a desirable or at least non-undesirable job that suits your needs?
The answer most of the time is that you dust up a cv or resume, spit out a cover letter and send this to companies at home or overseas. You throw shit to the wall and hope it sticks.
The reality sinks in soon enough. Only a small percentage of cvs sent are usually replied to and even then in most cases companies have already lined up someone for the job and are merely posting the job vacancy because the law requires them to.
Given such a scenario, do you:
A) send a few highly customized cover letters with your cv
B) send tonnes of generic but well written cover letters with your cv
I call strategy A the phalanx strategy because it relies on quality, and B the horde because it relies on numbers
Let’s consider the phalanx first:
- By sending highly customized cover letters, you target the needs requested by the company more accurately
- You appear to be just the right guy or gal
- You rely on a higher % rate of response in return for time invested
Ok, so what about the horde?
- You maximize your time and send tens, maybe hundreds of cover letters
- you get a low % rate but the numbers game makes you an eventual winner
- you are less outcome dependent and give less of a toss about individual job vacancies. This is good for your self confidence
Although both strategies have their merits and their adherents and perhaps the best solution is to apply them both to various degrees. Start with the phalanx and see what responses you get. If your emails are being ignored then pay less individual attention to them and unleash the horde(no spam please).
By not investing too much in individual emails to companies that discarded your effort without thinking twice, you free yourself up to succeed even if the response rate is as low as 10% or lower. Lining interviews up is a matter of numbers now and once you get to that stage, you’re able to show what quality you can really bring to the table. You cease to be a number and an attachment and can bring your personality and experience to bear. They’d be fools not to hire you.
It doesn’t matter how many steps it takes to climb the mountain. All that matters is what you do and where you travel to once you’re on top. Remember that it’s a fool’s errand to work for the rest of your life. Look for ways to exit the dreaded rat race through a combination of working hard and more importantly smart. Keep positive and may the numbers ever be in your favour!
Throughout the past few weeks we have been inundated with a never ending stream of videos related to this very real issue.
The war in Syria was for a long time something we considered from a distance. Sure, DAESH were making gains and seemed to be uncontainable. Before long it was feared we’d be facing terror attacks on our very doorstep and indeed it was not long before the Charlie Hebdo massacre occured.
Time passed and the Syrian conflict faded from the public eye just as that in Ukraine had. The people became concerned with this and that celebrity and perhaps how to make ends meet and make a buck or two.
This is of course a highly simplistic rendition of events and the truth is far more complex. In between war between more fronts and actors than you can shake a stick at, a Europe which had nonchalantly relegated the burden of immigration onto unwilling partners Italy, Spain, Malta and Greece among others suddenly had its hand forced by the unannounced arrival of a multitude of economic migrants on its doorstep demanding to go to Germany or Sweden.
Germany facing a demographic time bomb opened its arms to accept migrants in a marriage of convenience with the aim of simultaneously supplying their economy with cheap labour, and trying to feed the crocodile to prevent it from eating you. A Germany already inundated with millions of Muslims can ill-afford to be seen to be acting in a “racist” manner. The spectre of the Great War also looms over the country like a dark shadow.
The Germans are quick to be accused of being Nazis if they but dare to voice the most timid of objections to the dominant leftist culture of Europe in general. You can be sure that if Germany were to give these immigrants the cold shoulder, they would seriously aggravate millions of people who might find reason to vent their anger in a way that would cause great hurt and pain to the country.
Meanwhile, Europe bends over backwards, powered by a media machine which pushes images of poor children to the fore, ignoring the fact that not only are a large number of the survivors of the migration young males of military age, but also that they could easily be harbouring members of ISIS. While a few months ago we were all in terror at the seeming invincibility of this most terrible of terror organizations we are now practically begging them to establish sleeper cells in Europe. Not a smart move by any means and I do fear that by forcibly integrating large numbers of people into Europe, we may be sowing the seeds of our own demise. We’re not Nero watching Rome burn. We are too busy gathering the firewood to make it happen.
What should be done? Alas How many of us wish we had the answer to this one. The human side of the tragedy cannot be denied and the cost is there to be seen. Nobody with half a heart enjoys seeing others die, but we have not carefully considered the long term implications of this influx. It may well set a precedent that may see our continent spiral down the economic ladder, our way of life and standard of living irrevocably destroyed by our importing the Syrian War into our own backyard all while the United States sits pretty an ocean away concerned with its own affairs and carefully guarding its own borders.
It’s still early to say what the aftermath of all this will be but I fear for our future. I understand that those whose country has no immediate future would want to come here but we’re sorely neglecting the old maxim that charity begins at home. We need to find a way to help Syrians without compromising our own safety and security. Otherwise it’s a lose-lose situation for Europeans. In spite of incompetent politicians here’s to hoping we’ll be a Europe that saves lives but also protects and defends European heritage and our way of life and prosperity.