Monday, November 18, 2013

Arab English Teachers; Qualified to Teach Internationally?

If you are an English teacher that is an Arab and do not hold a passport from an English-speaking country, you may be able to relate to my frustration when looking for jobs. First and foremost, institutions are looking for teachers from native speaking English countries or countries that were colonized by the British such as South Africa. If Palestine was colonized for a longer time by the Brits, maybe we would be considered an English speaking country. Why cannot Arab teachers be given a chance to teach English? They do teach English in their home countries. Are they not qualified to teach on an International level?

Many Arab teachers may complain that the native-speaking English teachers assigned in many institutions are not even qualified to be teachers. Yes, they speak the language flawlessly, but is that all there is to language teaching and learning? We may find many teachers who do have a teaching certification such as the CELTA and are teaching adults in colleges and universities. The CELTA is accredited and accepted by almost all employers, but is it enough to be a teacher? Many people take the CELTA with a bachelor degree that does not even have to do with English or education. At the British Council, they say that the CELTA equates to about a semester of undergraduate studies. People study for about 4 years to be a teacher in a specific field; that is 8 semesters of undergraduate studies. But yet, the CELTA always comes first as a teaching requirement. I can see where they are coming from since it is a standardized certification, whereas not all universities are on the same level and teach the same skills to student teachers. This is not an attack on native English teachers. Many of them are fully qualified to teach, there is no denying that.

Now if an Arab teacher gets a CELTA, will that solve their problem? If they have no foreign nationality and a BA/MA related to English/education, will that be enough to be qualified to teach internationally? Will those companies looking primarily for native teachers accept these teachers too?

A company once did not accept me as they argued my nationality is Jordanian, and thus I am not a native. They also argued that I did not get my degree from an English speaking country. It is true that I am not a native, but should they not test/interview teachers for native-like proficiency? Some institutes in the Gulf accept non-native English teachers as long as they have a certain score in the IELTS exam. There should be a basis when employing English teachers which are not native, and giving them a fair chance.

Why Arab English Teachers Should be Given a Chance

  1. Many Arab English teachers have the language proficiency needed to teach English;
  2. Many have the right qualifications;
  3. Many of them have the work experience required;
  4. Many are experts on the English language.
Please share your experiences as an Arab English teacher!