Racial, linguistic and professional discrimination towards teachers of English as a foreign language
Keywords:English language teaching, racism, professional belittlement, discriminatory employment practices, linguistic imperialism
English Language Teaching is a globalised industry which attempts to standardise the use of textbooks and teaching materials (Gray 2002), implement universally accepted teaching methodologies (Canagarajah 2002) and promote internationally recognised examinations (Littlejohn 2013). This one-size-fits-all objective not only ignores local contexts and specific learners’ needs, but also promotes the concept of the idealised ‘native’ English language teacher who adheres to teaching tenets and precepts emanating from English-speaking countries. In this paper, we argue that discrimination against Mexican teachers is not so much carried out through paying lower wages but perpetrated through job discrimination, unequal working conditions and fewer opportunities for career advancement. Deference to the idealised teacher increases racial, linguistic and professional tensions and discrimination in countries such as Mexico where local teachers’ knowledge, experience, insights and practices are often disregarded if not disparaged. The investment that Mexican ‘non-native’ teachers make in time, money and effort in certifying themselves as professionals is often thwarted, as ‘native-speaking’ and ‘native-trained’ teachers frequently receive privileged working conditions and employment benefits. By conducting semi-structured informal interviews and written questionnaires, we narrate and analyse seventeen Mexican teachers’ experiences of racism, professional belittlement and discriminatory employment practices, along with the experiences of Mexican EFL students. Therefore, the article helps raise non-native teacher awareness covering a range of discriminatory and inequitable employment practices.
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