Non Native English Speakers 


Must Do's That Non Native English Speakers Should Take Heed of to Boost Their Chances of Getting Hired

One thing that all non native English speakers have to keep in mind is that firstly, your English must be smoking good or near native. This is really what hiring managers have come to expect. It is important to keep in mind that non native English speakers are at a disadvantage when it comes to getting hired for TEFL positions for quite a few reasons that we will get into a bit later in this article.

  •  Your cover letter or CV and resume have to be very well written. Thinking of typos as a minor detail that the hiring manager will overlook is a serious mistake. More on this down below.

  • You need to project an image of passion and professionalism. If they ask for a video make sure it is well done and get your accent as tight as you can get it. 

  • Accents are tough - make no mistake as it is something that is not naturally acquired. It is a practiced art form in a sense. Think about it for a second, how many times have you heard some American actor pull off a British accent perfectly? More here on accents.

  •  You also should have a TEFL certificate of at least 120 hours. Although a 60 hour teaching certificate is better than nothing, hiring managers look more favorably upon 120 to 150 hour certificates. They are not that much more money and considering the competition you're facing it is well worth the money. Here is a comparison of some popular 120 hour courses.

  • Any experience you have in an English speaking environment should be listed on your resume. Even if it is volunteer teaching it should be listed.

  • In other words you need to go the extra yard because your employer is looking at things from the business prospective of filling those seats. Because Americans, Canadian faces etc. fill the seats that will be the hiring managers first target. 

  •  It's not personal it's just business. And as said in an earlier article, hiring managers often collect their commission from the schools they work for so it is in their best interest to sell what they can sell easily.

After all teaching ESL is a business. If the hiring manager doesn't fill the seats then he gets the axe so he is kowtowing to the overpowering branding concept or way of thinking that the Hollywood image / white bread teacher is the best teacher. In reality they are unrelated and teaching English in Japan simply put is not a birthright. 


If you think about it, hiring  native English speakers over non native English speakers based purely on him or her being native is quite short-sighted. So many other factors are ignored in this simple equation.

For example non native English speakers have more experience in understanding the student's problems because he or she had to study English to get to the level that they are at in order to even apply for the job. Whereas the native teacher may not know a noun from a verb and get hired simply based on the county of his or her birth.

Tips For Getting Your English Stronger so You Can Nail Down That First English Teaching  Job

Non Native English Speaker & Finding ESL Jobs in JapanNon Native English Speaker & Finding ESL Jobs in Japan

Firstly you need to think systematically. Once you get that first job and can write that on your resume you took the first big step. First you win your first battle and then you win the war. And not the other way around.

In other words when you can write teaching related work on your resume that immediately separates you form others who simply graduated from what is considered to be a native English speaking country.

Often non native English speakers have a superior understanding of grammar and better writing skills than English teachers from what are considered native English speaking countries. I often hear this from hiring managers.

So here are some common steps to success

You got to really want it and if you do then do your best to immerse yourself in English as much as you can. Live and breathe it. Watch English T.V. and read English books. Even if they are comic books! Something is better than nothing.

Write down new terms you learn and how they were used and in what context they were used in.

By writing them down you are using another part of the brain which reinforces the acquisition of the target word. Because you are using two skills reading and the actual writing of the word it sticks in your head better. So the more skills you can attach to remembering the target the faster you will make progress. So read the target, speak the target and write the target.

Risk Sounding a Bit  Like a Crazy Person And the Big Takeaway From This page.

"What you say? Boy you ain't right in the head!"
No seriously folks talk to yourself out loud in English. Just hold your horses for a second. Think about your state of mentation or mental activity. All day long you think in your native language right? I have to do (x), (Y), (z) and I should do (x), (Y), (z). Countless thoughts careen through your head all day long.

Seriously think about it. For example you wake up and think "I slept well." or maybe you thought "I hardly slept at all, I wish the neighbor was quieter." "My feet are cold." "I am hungry and really feel like eating a burrito." "Damn! I forgot to buy milk again" "How late is that store open...I keep forgetting their hours of operation." All just fine and dandy isn't it? Hardly.


Don't just stop there. Test yourself! Can you say all those random thoughts that pop into your head in English?  How much of what you are constantly thinking can you actually say in English? 50%?  70%? What we are trying to say here is train your brain to think in English.


And here is the big takeaway from this page. When you can train your brain to start thinking in English this is a big step. No that's not right. It's a gigantic step. No, that's not right. It's a HUMONGOUS step. Yup. That's right. You are well on your way to a big leap in fluency after you train your brain.

Non Native English Speakers - Before the Interview the First Step is Your Cover LetterNon Native English Speakers - Before the Interview the First Step is Your Cover Letter

The first thing to understand is visa restrictions.  This means a working Visa from the golden 7 or  is it 13 native English speaking countries?

If you don't have a passport from the golden 7 (native speaking countries,) you're a non native English speaker.  This is a myth according to the Japanese government. This is a wide spread thing in the teaching industry and not just Japan.

One thing that is often overlooked is the cultural influences at work in the minds of those looking to study English. How have they been influenced or how they were influenced. Culture, Hollywood image, modern music etc. all these cultural influences form an image of what an English teacher should be. Not what they may be but what they should be.

This is by no means an isolated thing, in a prior article we looked at Apple vs. Microsoft and their battle for supremacy in IT. Now stay with me here. This very same phenomena exists in all parts of the world.

Take for example cigarette smoking. The Marlboro Man. Tough cowboy, handsome, rugged and independent man enjoying a nice smoke out on the range in Man's Country. (In case any of you are even remotely interested in this legendary iconic example of how simple common sense get smashed Umm... no crushed  Not quite right... trashed No. Close but not quite right. Let me see... obliterated. Yes! That's just right!


  • The Marlboro campaign had more influence on America than any other did.
  •  "More Doctors Smoke Camels Than Any Other Cigarette."

Cool  hip Hollywood actors types like John Travolta intimidating some other guy while he calmly lights his cigarette before deciding to kill the guy. All of these images build up in the mind of the person seeing it and without them knowing it they are influenced subtly to believe smoking is cool. The whole lung cancer thing dying pitifully in a hospital is simply  swept under the rug.  

And so it is with the battle that non native English speakers face when trying to get a job. They have the uphill battle of offsetting that brainwashing effect of English teacher = American, Canadian etc. That is perpetuated by metric tons of image/brand creation from countless sources. It's not that the hiring managers are racists, it's that they are dealing with a monster much bigger than they are. They are dealing with an all pervading image & branding creation machine. More info. on TEFL Equity Advocates here.

Non Native English Speakers Frustration are Quite Justified.

There is good reason for non native speakers to be frustrated as a result  of the stigma attached to them because they have the wrong color passport. It is quite understandable for non native speakers to feel like they are being discriminated against even though they may very well understand grammar much better than natives and have better writing skills etc.

One important point that should not be overlooked is to have realistic expectations. HR managers expect interviewees to have more than good English. They expect excellent English and good accents.

If you don't have this you have 2 choices. 1) move downward on the English ladder (teaching young children) where blazing fluency isn't required or you should spend time abroad and immerse yourself in English to where your fluency and your accent are nice. We really can't say enough about the importance of a good accent.



The Second Hurdle Non Natives English Speakers Face in Finding TEFL Jobs

Many non native English speakers are worried about how to handle the interview but in reality they have the horse in front of the cart. You are not going to get that Skype interview if the HR manager shreds your CV and resume. And it all starts with your cover letter. It's a handy bit of advice to know that most of your hiring managers are Westerners so the cover letter for a non native English speaker needs to be written in accordance with what they expect or are used to seeing.

Some Very Common Cover Letter Mistakes That Non Native English Speakers Make

Some of them really standout so clearly, they literally scream "I don't know what I am doing." Again another real life example that directly relates to getting an ESL interview is WRITING IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. YOU MAY THINK IT GETS ATTENTION BUT IT UPSETS THE PERSON READING IT!!!

Here is what we mean. Think of some of the e-mails you get. Tons of them have all capital letters in the subject line and 99% of them are marketing crap products from shady firms. I learned this after opening just two of them. Think this way - All cap. means crap.

Another Fairly Common Mistake that Non Native English Speakers Make on CV's

Rationalization of poor grammar. Folks It all ads up. Small mistakes with punctuation here and there. Misspellings. Poor layout etc. It all just flushes your chances of getting that first chance at an interview right down the toilet.

Many rationalize it by thinking - "I'm not being hired as a writer, I'm being hired to speak and teach. Wrong-O Daddy-O.  They are connected.  You need to show the hiring manager that you have a very good working knowledge of English and it all begins with that first impression. Your CV is that first impression. 


Non Native Speakers and Getting That First Interview All Begins With a Cover Letter

Let's connect it again with another real life situation

You are single. At a party. You see pretty girl. You want pretty girl. You walk to her. You have tense face and are nervous. Plainly unhappy and look bored. If you ask her for a date do you think she will say yes?

So to reconnect these two ideas, your CV should be like walking up to that pretty girl with a smile, overflowing with positive energy and looking and acting like a super fun and nice guy. Then she will say "yes."

And so, if your CV is well written it is the same thing - a killer first impression. And your hiring manager may say "yes" to you. This keeps your CV out of the shredder and opens up the path to getting your resume read and hopefully a long and nice relationship with your school (like the couple in the above pic.)

Taking it to Hollywood & Laying to Rest Some of the Concerns Your Hiring Manager May Have - Video

Remember it's dog eat dog out there. And when you are competing against native English teachers who are a low risk choice with their clean accents and image that students want, your job is to lay the hiring manager's fears to rest with a good video presentation.

Show how good your accent is, how friendly, outgoing, professional and competent you are.  Yet another connection with real life situations. Actors. When they give readings or auditions for parts in plays and movies, their auditions have to be excellent or the part goes to someone else.

Same thing with your video presentation to your hiring manager. Make no mistake you not only have to sell yourself, you have to sell hard. When you are done making that video if it doesn't impress you, go back and do it again until it sparkles.

If you already have a class demonstration video and if it's a good one that's great by all means send it and show your personality. That you are likable, cheerful. The kind of teacher that students want and need and hopefully before you know it that invitation for an interview will land in your inbox.

More Related Pages...

Non Native English Speaker The Myth of Native English Speaking Countries Explained. Tips And Advice to Compete More Successfully - Plus a Nice Video of an Indonesian Teacher And What he Did to Get His First Teaching Job in Japan.
Ways to Improve Your English Pronunciation - Guidance on How to Move Your Lips and Mouth to Sound Like a Native English Speaker. Common Mistakes Made & How to Avoid Them.


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