Saturday, 31 March 2012

Hot Topic: Racism and Dancing White Monkeys

White is Best!
Gone are the days where anyone could get a job teaching English. Discrimination is here to stay. There's lookism, ageism (too old or too young), sexual orientation, name discrimination, sexism, and of course, racism.

If you're not white, you might have problems getting a job. Blond haired and blue eyed people have it easy. Even if you're white and have darker skin, don't be surprised if people ask you how you learned English or where your parents are from.

If you have a non-traditional first or last name, you'll probably also have issues with getting a job or during interviews. 

If you're black and trying to teach in Asia, avoid recruiters and hagwons owned by locals. Here's a study about racial bais in Korea, is South Korea really that unfriendly to foreigners?, and is Racism at Epidemic Proportions in Korea?

I've been told I look Indian, Colombian, and Filipina. Even in the US I can pass for Mexican, as long as I don't open my mouth. My family's from Europe (and from countries like Russia and Scotland), but have lived in the US for over 100 years. I married a man from South America and add his last name to mine. Despite the fact that I put being a native speaker, born and raised in the US, I still get people ask me how I learnt English or where my parents are from. I smile and tell them that I learnt English like they learnt their native language and that my family's been in the US practically forever.

Singing and Dancing
The dancing white monkeys often have to sing and dance in order for the school to get more students and keep their employers happy and keep the parents happy.

However, while singing, dancing, and playing have their part in the classroom, learning has to take place. My DOS at one of my jobs did a demo lesson for me to show me how she wanted me to teach. I couldn't help but be shocked when I watched a 20 minute lesson where she taught "come" and "go" while smiling and dancing around the room. I soon realised the students would never learn at this rate because they were only learning 2 words a day while giggling and running around the classroom.

There are probably a couple reasons why the dancing white monkey has come into the EFL classroom. First, employers may not always be educators; instead, they're in the business for the money. Second, teachers aren't as qualified as they should be. Some are only native speakers and may not have a BA or TEFL cert.

What do you think?
How common is the dancing white monkey teacher where you are? What advice do you have for teachers in this situation?

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Email me with your hot topic, name, and website (if you have one) and I'll post it ASAP.

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