Narratively performed role identities of visible ethnic minority, native English speaking teachers in TESOL

  • Eljee Javier

Student thesis: Unknown


The binary distinction of "native speaker" and "non-native speaker" (NS/NNS) remains the primary way in which professionals are categorised in the field of teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). This distinction is problematic because it is used to place greater value on native English speaking teachers (NEST) over non-native English speaking teachers (NNESTs). This distinction is argued to be largely based on linguistic features (Medgyes 1992; Cook 1999). However the aspect of race remains to be adequately discussed (Kubota and Lin 2006).This thesis has its origins in my personal experiences with racism because, as a Canadian- Filipino, my employer and my students did not accept me as a "real" NEST because I am "non-white". In my initial research, during my MA TESOL, into the professional experiences of racism I coined the acronym "VEM-NEST": visible ethnic minority, native English speaking teacher. I used this term to describe the particular group of teachers, to which I belong, who do not easily fit into the available categories of NS/NNS, and consequently NEST/NNEST.My thesis reported on the experiences of nine VEM-NESTs and how they performed specific identities during specific events. Their experiences were presented as individual restoried narratives which were developed from the combination of the participants' written stories and one-to-one interviews. The restoried narratives were analysed using an analytical lens based on Labov and Waletzky's (1967) structural approach.The findings suggest that VEM-NESTs need to meet a certain amount of "native speaker" norms in order to be given the opportunity to perform their VEM-NEST role identities in specific situations. This has particular implications for how the NS/NNS binary distinction needs a more nuanced understanding as a way of addressing the inequalities embedded in the way TESOL professionals are valued.
Date of Award1 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRichard Fay (Supervisor) & Juup Stelma (Supervisor)


  • English language teaching
  • Critical Race Theory
  • race
  • role identities
  • restoried narrative
  • native/non-native speaker issues
  • performativity
  • nativespeakerism
  • narrative research
  • racial and ethnic identities
  • teacher identity

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