Language and Power

Annie Chou

Hampshire College TESOL Certificate Course

Although English is an international commodity, people still discriminate non-native English speaker as less effective professionals than native English speaker. For instance, speakers who are from America and England tend to have a higher chance of getting employed as “standard American and British -English are the two prestigious varieties o f English” (p. 590). Many studies did find that “… NES status was the most important hiring criterion and accounted for the high number of NES teachers in the programs” (p.590). Nowadays, the world causes each different English accent has its own level of power that leads native English speakers to possess some privileges that non-native English speakers do not own.

Many people probably do not know the existence of discriminatory hiring acts in the TESOL field or believe there is any discrimination. Unfortunately, I had seen favoritism when looking for jobs in the past months. I found that many private schools or people who were looking for tutors favored the blond, blue-eyed native English speakers. Also, several job posts had the requirement of “native English speaker only” or “native English speaker is preferred” listed on the application. All these descriptions indicate that non-native English speaker is still used with negative connotations (Celce-Murcia, Brinton & Snow, 2014, p. 588).

In order to have positive changes in hiring practices, administrators and teachers need to start emphasizing the importance of speaking intelligibility rather than teaching a native-like pronunciation in a language classroom (p.589). It is essential for people to know the discriminatory hiring practices and understand that hiring decisions should be made based on English language proficiency, teaching skills, teacher experience, and professional preparation, and not focusing on whether a teacher is a NES or NNES (p.591). In addition, NNES teachers should have positive self-perceptions. Having positive self-perceptions and confidence while teaching can affect “how teachers position themselves in the classroom, contribute to instructional practices, and ultimately affect students’ motivation and learning” (p.591).


Celce-Murcia, M., Brinton, D. M., & Snow, M. A. (2014). Teaching English as a Second or Foreign language. Boston, Mass.: National Geographic Learning.


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