EU NNESTs vs. Non-EU NNESTs? Discrimination by any other name

EU passport NNESTs.jpg

This was a timely tweet because on June 1, I was facilitating a CELTA input session on CPD and getting jobs.

In a task on different teaching contexts, the trainees browsed jobs on online portals and they were quick to note that a plurality required ‘native speakers’ and the ones that didn’t often included this remark:

This post is open only to those with the right to work in the EU.

It might be EU law to not discriminate against non-native speakers, but it seems it’s perfectly (and legally) acceptable to discriminate in favour of EU citizens.

I’d like to be completely transparent and state that India has a similar law: To get a work visa in India as an expat, you need to be a highly skilled professional earning more than $25,000 a year. However, the exception to this rule are foreign language teachers who can earn peanuts and still get a work visa. English language teachers, are an exception to this exception. In fact the legal clause actually states:

Language teachers (other than English language teachers)

This is because the Indian constitution sees English as an Indian language and the rationale is that we have enough teachers of what’s perceived to be one of our own languages.

Oddly, this hasn’t stopped discriminatory practices. International schools often circumvent this law by hiring for example an expat geography teacher who also happens to teach English and it’s no surprise that there are a lot of complaints from local teachers about the vast differences in salaries.

I realise there’s no easy answer to this but the employment market seems to be evolving a new dichotomy, yet again based on discrimination, to respond to demands for equity and fairness: NNESTs from the EU vs. NNESTs from the rest of the world. You can see how this might validate the views of those who have held the belief that this has always been about something other than the colour of your passport.

To a newly qualified teacher, the scene both at home and abroad, is deeply disheartening.

Image attribution: Public domain


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