Time and time again we’re asked if [enter country] hires [enter ethnicity] for ESL jobs. Let us just state for the record that we’ve seen teachers of various ethnic backgrounds and religions prosper in the ESL world. There is no reason why many more can’t.
This is a delicate subject for many of our critical readers and we feel this may be a deciding factor in whether some of you decide to seek work abroad. This is why we have handed over the mic to someone who knows a thing or two about being a “minority of a minority”.
Michael Hunter, is the creator of FarangDam a blog aimed at portraying what life in Asia is like from a black pov. The website was created out of an inability to truly find a resource sharing the black experience in the ESL world. A true niche of it’s own, Mike has received 100’s of questions from ESL hopefuls looking for insight on finding work in Asia. So with no further a do here’s Mike:
Does the ESL Market Discriminate?
Does the job market in your country discriminate? Does a football coach discriminate? Do you discriminate? Don’t be so fast to answer that questions without a long hard thought.
It’s going to happen! You’re going to be discriminated against whether you’re white,black or even Asian. With that being said there is no need to fear the “D” word. Rather take a moment to understand it. At the end of the day English as a second language is a business, a big one. Parents pay big bucks to secure spots for their kids in respectable English programs.
‘Perception is reality and that’s a fact.’
When an English teacher comes to mind what do you think of? Be honest… If you’re still have difficulty getting the point of my question then think about it from another perspective. If I told you someone from Asia was coming to pay us a visit you’d probably would have imagined an Asian person since you associate that of Asia with being Asian. This is what they expect when they hear about a teacher from the west. They expect(well hope for) a blonde hair, blue-eyed mid-20’s male or female. Now I’d like to add that schools are very realistic and your typical ESL teacher varies well across the board form the 22-year old recent graduate to the 55-year old veteran.
Does that mean you’re at a disadvantage?
The answer to this question is more a matter of the agency you work for rather than actual school you’re working at. Agencies have widely become the standard for hiring foreign teachers. This is partly because these agencies are ran by native English speakers who have vast experience in the ESL industry. Your agency should have your back at all times and make sure they’re doing everything you can to succeed at your job. I can personally say that the companies I worked for took care of me fully and at no point did I ever feel singled out.
So have you seen discrimination?
Yes. Of course! I mean I’d be a jackass to say “No, I can’t say I have bob…”. Maybe being an African-American makes me pay closer attention to things like this but I call it as I see it. In my article Racism In Thailand I touch talk about this briefly. The mere fact that a school requires to see a photo of you before they accept you is discrimination.
Who does it affect most?
It all depends…Parents pay the big money so they have expectations. At the end of the day language schools are trying to please the parents paying the money, not you. In my time as a teacher I’ve only seen one teacher let go and that was because he was over 50 and obese. This teacher often wasn’t able to be involved in school activities (which schools in Thailand take very seriously) and as a result they requested he not return the following year.
Best steps to securing a job?
The same way you would want to land a job back home. Look professional, clean and smart. Always smile and be respectful. More important than how you look is how you make people feel. That’s what will ultimately decide how people feel around you.
Plenty, but none are a result of my work life. I did well to separate my work life from my night life in Thailand. After about my 2nd year here I began to walk to the path of the straight and narrow. You’re bound to run into problems when living in another country. People may try to take advantage of you if you stick out like a helpless little child. The only thing you can do is learn from each experience and not make the same mistake again. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
It’s always a good idea to get a TEFL because I’ve heard stories of teachers working for low-end companies (not requiring them) that are ran directly by the locals. This mean you lose the westerner to westerner connection as a liaison between you and your Thai employer. Can you say lost in translation…?
The importance of having a western agency represent you is that they too have locals on their side that understand that countries laws and create contracts that your employers have to honor. Without them you’re basically going by word. Not what you want to travel 6,000 miles and here. I met a guy who told me he worked for a month an a half directly under the school and they let him go amid false claims by the students. I don’t know what really happen but it sounds like a shit show. This could of all been avoided if he would of set aside 6-8 weeks and $300 ( or less).
Words of wisdom for the future travelers?
Hmmm… Be mindful to your fellow teachers who’ve been in the country longer than you. Nothing is more annoying than new teachers who talk like they know everything because they’ve finally learned a complex sentence in that countries language. Also always agree on a price before agreeing to do something. Otherwise you may find yourself paying a lot more than expected. Finally, if it’s too good to be true then it certainly is my friends. Don’t risk it and your adventure in ESL will be long and prosperous.
There you go folks! If you have any questions for Mike you can e-mail him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us directly with your questions by clicking the button below!