jueves, 9 de octubre de 2008

Backpacking and professionalism

Ever since I started teaching –long ago–, and even before that, there has been a tendency to give preference to native “teachers” of English over local ones. And the word teachers goes between quotation marks on purpose in order to draw a clear distinction between those who have the qualifications to stand in front of a class and teach and those who simply have blonde hair, blue eyes and were born in an English speaking country (please, include in this group all those who have lived in the US, UK, Canada, etc and come back to Peru empty handed looking for a job teaching English as if their residence –legal or not– abroad were enough). It is true that those who are native speakers (or those who have lived abroad long) have an insuperable advantage –in the great majority of cases –over non-natives: they speak the language perfectly –we assume so, but I also remember many frustrating cases –and are much better equipped in that respect. However, giving jobs to these improvised people close-eyedly just diminishes our profession.
This happens for many reasons, among which I put our own failure to perform at their level, and even our own procrastination and laziness. We may need to ask ourselves what we are doing to improve our level of English. Have we read any book in English? Are we willing to go to language improvement classes? As long as we keep on letting other people think that we are not good enough for a post teaching English, the situation will not change.