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‘Students have refused to be taught by me’

varinder unlu

Language school director of studies Varinder Unlu has spent her career on the receiving end of often bare-faced racism. The issue is the ‘elephant in the room’ in ELT and needs greater research, she says.

I have grown up experiencing so much racism and sexism that most of the time these days it doesn’t even occur to me to be offended when it rears its ugly head.

Take last week for example. I get a call from one of our registrars – there’s a prospective student wanting to talk to the academic director about Ielts classes.

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Racism in ELT is ‘widespread and well-documented’

MAREK

Varinder’s personal story of a non-white woman teacher in white male dominated transnational ELT shows how deeply discriminatory the profession has become. It shows that being perceived as a ‘native speaker’ has often nothing to do with your mother tongue, but everything with being white and Western-looking.

This might shock you. You might think that Varinder’s story is but one unfortunate example. And we can’t generalise from it. Surely such a nice profession as ELT can’t be that racist?

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Inspector Gadget

StephenBaxEltons

ELTons award winner professor Stephen Bax reveals all about his career and his passion for innovation

- Before becoming a university professor at the Open University, you had some interesting and varied experiences as a Tefl teacher. Tell us about your career to date.

I started in Tefl in 1981 when I saw an advert for teachers in Sudan saying: ‘Teachers wanted, no experience necessary.’ So from 1981 to 1983 I taught English in a girls’ school in Argo in north Sudan with classes of up to 120, and I loved every minute of it, including learning Arabic.

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‘Communal crystal ball gazing is very useful’

RICHARDDAY

Richard Day, owner of English in Chester, talks about how language schools have been working together to raise standards and tackle upcoming challenges in the UK market.

Tell us a bit about who you are and your role at the language school English in Chester.
I am the owner and current director of marketing. Over my 41 years at the school I have worked in and led all departments. I handed over the role of principal to Nigel Paramor 10 years ago. Nigel is in charge of running the school and this leaves me with time to represent the school nationally, regionally and internationally and focus on developing the business.

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Mastering the art of motivation

AN7A30581

International programmes keep academics in touch with ‘realities on the ground’, Dr Martin Lamb, senior lecturer at Leeds University, tells EL Gazette

Tell us a little about your early career, your VSO experiences and what led you finally to Leeds University.

After a disastrous early foray into the business world, I did a PGCE in history. But then I thought I’d put some distance between me and my future school pupils by teaching English abroad for a while. I didn’t return for seventeen years!

First I was in Sweden, then I joined VSO and was sent to Indonesia for a couple of years and stayed on for four more with the British Council. I did a masters degree at Lancaster in 1990–91, then spent five years in Bulgaria, again with the BC, before a further three years working on a big ADB-funded language centre development project in Sumatra.

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