The TDSIG is launching this new space on its website. ‘Causes’ highlights the work of colleagues in our profession who, quite simply, do good work – good work that we support and believe in. Today, we’d like to share the work of Marek Kiczkowiak,

 TEFL Equity Advocates


As our inaugural post, we are delighted to share the work of Marek Kiczkowiak,Marek who founded TEFL Equity Advocates. Marek is currently based in the Netherlands and has worked in Poland, England, Spain, Costa Rica and Hungary. He runs a language business called Polish your Languages and is also a passionate blogger. Marek is an advocate of equal employment rights for NNESTs (Non-Native English Speaker Teachers) and has started a campaign against discrimination of NNESTs in TEFL/TESOL industry. For more information, look here.

TEFL Equity Advocates

by Marek Kiczkowiak, Founder.

In April 2014, at the BELTA Day, together with my former DELTA tutor, Chris Holmes, I gave my first ever conference talk: ‘Misconceptions that just won’t go away’. Although the topic of discrimination of non-Native English speaker Teachers (nNESTs) within the EFL industry is still to some extent a skeleton in the cupboard, the feedback we received was very encouraging. While discussing how we could promote giving equal professional opportunities to nNESTs, the idea for TEFL Equity Advocates website, blog and campaign was born.

The website aims to be a place of discussion and debate, where EFL professionals can freely exchange their views about the issue at hand. It also provides numerous resources, such as FB support groups, where you can connect with other like-minded professionals. Finally, there is a regularly updated blog, which has featured articles from numerous popular bloggers, such as James Taylor and Michael Griffin, teacher success stories, as well as interviews with the likes of Peter Medgyes and David Crystal. If you would like to contribute, or be interviewed, please feel free to drop an email here.

So what is TEFL Equity Advocates trying to achieve?

  1. Expose the discrimination of nNESTs in TEFL and ensitise the public to the problem.
  2. Debunk the most common and damaging myths and stereotypes about nNESTs.
  3. Diminish the divide between the two groups by encouraging cooperation, dicussion and dialogue.
  4. Encourage nNESTs, NESTs, recruiters, language schools and teaching association to get involved in promoting equal employment rights.
  5. Give self-confidence and knowledge to nNESTs to fight for their rights.
  6. Gain support of teaching associations for the campaign and encourage them to publicly denounce discrimination.
  7. Work together with recruiters and job listing websites to reduce the number of job advertisements which are only for NESTs, ensuring both groups are treated fairly and equally.

Since launching the website in April 2014, TEFL Equity Advocates has received a very positive response and public support for its goals from numerous EFL professionals, such as Jeremy Harmer and Scott Thornbury, as well as teaching organisations, such as Teaching English British Council and Disabled Access Friendly. You can read their statements of support and add your own here.

I have also spoken to various job listing websites about their position on advertisements which request the candidate to be a native speaker – a practice illegal in the EU. committed to filtering out all such ads from their listings, and Onestopenglish and are currently looking into the matter.

All this gives hope for the future; hope that the negative prejudices against nNESTs, and the favouritism NESTs enjoy will be soon a thing of the past. In order to achieve this, TEFL Equity Advocates plans to:

  • further develop the website, especially its visual side
  • complete the research project, currently being carried out with James Beddington from the University in Winchester, which investigates the attitude students and recruiters have towards nNESTs and NESTs. You can read more about it here and help us by filling in and spreading the on-line questionnaires within your teaching network.
  • write articles like this one to let people know about the initiative
  • give talks at conferences to sensitise the public to the problem and debunk some of the myths and prejudices against nNESTs
  • talk to teaching associations and organisations and encourage them to publically speak out against discrimination of nNESTs and support the movement

I also hope that you will get involved in supporting and advocating equity between NESTs and nNESTs. If you think you can help with any of the goals, or would like to participate in the campaign (or perhaps just say ‘hello’), feel free to drop a message here.

(Logo credit: Jonathan Cordero)