Guest speaker: Dr. Kristof Savski

‘Native only’ – examining how white privilege in TESOL is constructed, upheld and challenged in Facebook groups for migrant teachers of English in Thailand

Recent critical examinations of the concepts of ‘nativeness’ and ‘native speaker’ have underlined its embeddedness both in historically-conditioned geopolitical inequalities as well as its close association with ideologies of race. These play a key role in particular in TESOL, where ‘native speakers’ continue to be routinely seen as ideal teachers and models for learners. While such a preference is routinely critiqued as a manifestation of white privilege, it is important to note that such hegemonic ideologies are constructed and upheld through concrete actions in discourse, through concrete social actions, and that the discourse around them also opens windows in which such hegemony may be challenged. This presentation will focus on how such discursive struggle plays out around TESOL job advertisements in Facebook groups for migrant teachers of English in Thailand. While these groups cater to a highly diverse population of teachers, one which includes both traditional ‘expats’ (i.e. whites from Anglophone nations) as well as numerous teachers of other nationalities and ethnic backgrounds (i.e. whites from non-Anglophone nations as well as large numbers of Asians and Africans), the job advertisements posted in them largely favour the former, with many job offers explicitly stating that only ‘native speakers’ may apply. This presentation will share the preliminary results of a critical discourse analysis of language used in these adverts and the comments posted below them by group members. I will focus particularly on the discursive actions made by particular actors to enforce the hegemonic ideology – native-speakerism – and on the moves that attempted to subvert and challenge this ideology in different ways.