Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I do not know if you have heard about the JALT (Japan Association for Language Teaching). It is a professional association for language teachers in which English teachers are the majority. The JALT has a website at

The association will have its annual conference in November this year and I will make a presentation. But the reason I am writing this post is not about my presentation but about my effort I will make during the conference to establish a new forum to address the racial discrimination against non-native speakers of English.

It is perhaps general knowledge that non-native speakers of English are often discriminated against precisely because of their status of non native speakers of English.

Here is a copy of the petition that I am going to make.

My name is Nicky Sekino, a teacher of English, who has long been involved in the continuing education world of Japan. In the world that I am in, which is known as the eikaiwa industry, some qualified teachers of English are not given teaching jobs because they are not native speakers of English. Behind this malpractice is the popular demand in the market for teachers who are native speakers of English.

In all honesty, a wish to learn a foreign language with a native speaker is natural. A British student’s wish to meet a robust German instructor in the German class is natural. A Japanese student’s wish to meet an English instructor from an English-speaking country is natural.

A problem will arise if the appearance of a language instructor is treated synonymously with a native speaker of a language. This is when the selection of a language instructor is taken place based on his or her looks.

Some English schools openly display “native speakers only” as a condition for employment, which hints discriminatory practices. The eikaiwa industry is no free of such guilt - in many instances. A bold challenge here is that higher education would not be safe if the nationality of an instructor were of an essential condition for employment.

Racial discrimination in the world of English education may have been known for some time but not openly discussed. It is about time to discuss it in the public domain. Therefore, I am proposing to establish a new Special Interest Group to discuss the topic. I would eventually expand the discussion to two other forms of discrimination: age and gender.

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