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Which is better: "nativeness" or a degree?

 
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Who gets the certificate?
Alobar: American, no degree, native speaker
50%
 50%  [ 3 ]
Kudra: Pakistani, degree, near-native speaker
50%
 50%  [ 3 ]
Toss up: You're both equally capable/screwed
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 6

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Alobar



Joined: 04 Apr 2003
Posts: 28
Location: USA

PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2003 3:20 am    Post subject: Which is better: "nativeness" or a degree? Reply with quote

My fiancee and I are moving to SE Asia or China. We are interested in TEFL as a means of supporting ourselves until we get her a US Visa. For various and tedious reasons, it makes sense for only one of us to get a TESOL certificate (from TEFL International).

The dilemma is that I am a US citizen and a native English speaker, but I do not have a college degree. My fiancee, on the other hand, is a citizen of Pakistan and has a BA in English Literature and Political Science from an accredited Pakistani college. Her English is near-native and idiomatic; indeed, she is more articulate than many Americans. She has only a slight accent.

Throw into the mix that I'm (or I was) a computer programmer, network engineer and hardware technician, and might be able pick up at least few extra bucks in some countries.

And, although it shouldn't matter but probably does, I'm white, and my fiancee is definitely darker.

Which of us would have better job prospects with a TESOL certificate? Or, rather, what's the most efficient allocation of the certificate, all things considered?
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bnix



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 645

PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2003 3:34 am    Post subject: Interesting Dilemma.... Reply with quote

Since you have prospects of earning at least some income with your background in computers,etc...I would have to say the most efficient allocation of the cert would be to your fiancee.Very sadly,however,because of her color,she is very likely to suffer some discrimination in at least some places in southeast Asia...I do not know about China.I am not saying that is right,of course,but it is an unfortunate fact of life.My question is...do you really think either one of you needs the cert?Best of luck Smile
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Alobar



Joined: 04 Apr 2003
Posts: 28
Location: USA

PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2003 3:42 am    Post subject: Re: Interesting Dilemma.... Reply with quote

bnix wrote:
Since you have prospects of earning at least some income with your background in computers,etc...


To be honest, I'm doubtful that my computer skills could make even as much money as teaching. No degree is a very severe handicap in the tech industry, even with 20 years experience. Not that I'm disputing your opinion; I just want to make it clear that I'm thinking I would probably be limited to fixing computers on the cheap.

Quote:
My question is...do you really think either one of you needs the cert?Best of luck Smile


Lacking a degree, it would seem necessary for me to have the cert if I were going to teach at all. Is is possible for her to get a job with just her degree?

If I had the cert, could we present ourselves as a team?
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bnix



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 645

PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2003 3:59 am    Post subject: Yes,She Can Probably Get SOME Job.. Reply with quote

You obviously know more about the job prospects in the computer industry,etc. than I do.Your statement that you are handicapped by a lack of a degree makes sense.Your fiancee could get SOME job with the degree in English LIt.,MAYBE a decent job...although I have no way of foretelling that.She could teach at one of the private schools in Taiwan or Korea.Unfortunately,and very sadly again,she may very well run into some discrimination. If she is extremely careful in choosing an employer...it could be a decent job...but there area lot of ripoffs among the private schools.
There may be a few other job possiblities for her with her BA in English Lit.I really do not know if a cert would help her that much...since she does have a degree.Some jobs only require A degree,any degree.However,it is doubtful if she could geta job teaching at a university in most places with a BA,even if she did have a cert in addition to the degree.

I suggest you think it over carefully before you pay out any money for a cert.I am not trying to talk you out of it.It is your business and your money...and I do not know what they would be charging you for it.I would just suggest that you think it over prior to giving anyone any money.Good luck.
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Roger



Joined: 19 Jan 2003
Posts: 9138

PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2003 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The ESL/EFL market is very, very unfair - it has been created by native English speakers to sort of function as a native English speakers' network protecting their own interests.
Only the English speaking world is so obsessed with nativity in a teacher. It often means that totally unsuitable, inexperienced or/and unqualified natives get a cushy position in exotic holiday destinations. Maybe this is one reason why teaching English is less glamorous than teaching French!
Note that these natives have to rub shoulders with professionals from their host countries whose English may be more formal, orthodox and grammatical; who should then enjoy respect as a teacher?
But, although this sounds like a rant I want to encourage you to try your luck (as I have already answered you on another forum). In China, you will most likely be hired as a conversation English teacher. You will hardly teach the "substantive" subjects such as grammar or literature. I don't think this is a useful division of labour (between expats and local teachers), but it's what is being practised (and seems to be in the interest of the many Americans here).
As for your Pakistani fiancee, you must be realistic, and so must she. You can try to convince your hirer it would be in their interest to hire her too. We don't know her education background, but I assume she has an above-average one, and thus, she could get a job in the same category of teachers as yourself - simply as an expat (you know that there are only two kinds of people in the minds of Chinese - "us" and the "foreigners").
You can act as your fiancee's go-between, declaring her English competence as being superior to that of most.
Some schools actually don't mind, and usually they are located in poorer areas (which does not mean the facilities are less good, only that students hail from more humble economic backgrounds). In large cities, anti-dark colour biases run a lot deeper with Chinese girls going to extremes bleaching their natural skin colour, even dyeing their hair!
In more rural and more scenic provinces such as Hainan and Guangxi, I am fairly confident your wife would be almost as welcome as yourself! In Shanghai or the Pearl RIver Delta of Guangdong, I am of opinion that people are a lot more bigotted!
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Gary B



Joined: 19 Feb 2003
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2003 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wha'z up?
I don't know about the particular situation mentioned in the original post, but addressing the issue of non-native speaker and native speakers of English teaching English became a very hot controversial topic in my Master's program. My position is that I would prefer to hire a native speaker with perhaps some teaching experience, but no Master's, than a non-native with a Master's and some experience DEPENDING ON THE LEVEL OF THEIR NON-NATIVE like abilities. It has nothing to do with discrimination or being politically incorrect, but native speakers present all of the dimensions of language such as pronunciation, idioms, compound verbs, slang, and expressions that non-native speakers might not know. It is true that these vary among different English groups as well such as British English versus American English for example. Also, body language and facial expressions may be slightly, but importantly different in expression which non-native speakers might not be able to express. The biggest factor would be what type of EFL/ESL class we are talking about. If it's conversation, I would definetely go with a native speaker. If it were a grammar class, perhaps the non-native speaker may have an edge. In fact, many of the English teaching institutes I've had experience with prefer lesser "qualified" native speakers than more qualified non-native local English speakers as instrucotrs.
Chow for Now,
Only An Opinion And You Know What They Say About Opinions From Motown Gary B.
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Roger



Joined: 19 Jan 2003
Posts: 9138

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2003 3:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I maintain that the ESL/EFL market is skewed and it discriminates against non-natives even to the point of disadvantaging local teachers in places such as China!
There is an over-emphasis on spoken English, and for this practice natives are preferred although students seldom are capable of coping with their English, nor are we always able to understand our charges! To have "all dimensions" of using English at your disposal often is completely irrelevant and of no immediate use. Natives might enhance the communication skills of well-versed and highly-educated Europeans who are proficient at English, though Europeans won't need many native speakers because at this level, they will want to immerse themselves in an English-speaking environment!
Alobar is moving to China, and here he will be faced with the fact that his employment prospects are probably better than those of his fiancee even though he has no particular ESL training.
He will soon discover that the English acquired by his students is dysfunctional. What's the use if your students memorise 5 new words every day just like they are learning a given number of Chinese characters per week? At the end of their schooling, they will be able to write perhaps 3000 Chinese characters, and know, again perhaps, 10'000 English vocables; 80% (in my estimate) cannot string any 4 or 5 words together without a major hickup. Even their own English teachers cannot competently choose between the two variants "he has lunch" and "he had lunch". Most oral practice is done with the aim of making students 'fluent" - but this inevitably goes to the detriment of proficiency and accuracy. In the end, Chinese don't understand English, and we don't understand Chinglish.
Students with such poor grasp of how the English language functions can be a pain in the ass. Fell free to do a therapist's job - but that is a never-ending Sisyphus' job!
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