Today, the TODAY newspaper has a thoughtful article pointing out the cons of this approach. Click here for the full article. What do I want to highlight? How about this:
LAST December, I was at the Sydney Opera house to witness my 17-year-old daughter, Amali, born and raised in Australia, receiving the prize for topping the English class in her final year at one of the top state schools in Sydney.Heheh. As I had pointed out in the Comment section of my previous post, there are plenty of non-white "native speakers" of English in countries such as India, the Philippines and Malaysia. Why is our Education Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam so keen to hire angmos from the UK? What does this show about Tharman's thinking?
In a grade of some 250 students (mostly Caucasian), the top three students were all of Asian descent: My daughter of Sri Lankan descent, another with Burmese parents, while the third had an Indian father and a Filipino mother.
I told Amali after the presentation that if she applied to teach English (after completing a degree) in East Asia, she is very likely to be rejected when they see her picture, because she will be deemed not to be a "native speaker" of English.
Interestingly, it transpires that many Thai parents think like Tharman. I guess that shows that Tharman is approximately as clever as they are:
Last year, it was reported that a deal, struck by the Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra during a visit to India to bring South Asian English teachers to help Thai schools improve English teaching standards, was coming unstuck because Thai parents wanted their children to be taught by "native speakers".
Meanwhile, it was revealed in the British parliament around the same time that nearly 16 million adults in Britain are unable to read and write properly in English.
More interestingly, the TODAY article gives us some indication of one kind of UK native speaker who would probably be very interested in responding to Tharman's recruitment ad:
Recently, I picked up a book at a Bangkok airport bookshop titled, Road Rash: Western Tourists and Expatriates at Play in Asia's Global Village written by a Canadian who has taught English in Asia for many years. In it he says:Aren't they lucky? Unemployed and overeducated in the UK. Zero experience in teaching (see Tharman's ad - "Newly qualified teachers are encouraged to apply"). But once they get here, they'll be treated as "foreign talent" and their kids won't even have to do NS.
"Many of these English teachers are exiled from affluent countries by debt and student loans. Others have been downsized from corporate jobs, trapped by temporary employment agencies, or locked into dead-end minimum wage jobs … the mass migration of English teachers points to an interesting dynamic in the global village; affluent and wealthy countries are now exporting their unemployable, over-educated, surplus population into less-developed nations as labourers."
Thus, English teaching in Asia has become a lifeline for these unemployed "native speakers".
(Oh, in case you're wondering, these native speakers might be broke but they CAN afford to send their kids over. Tharman is offering them "free economy air passage for candidate, spouse and 2 children below the age of 18 to Singapore").
Technorati: Singapore; education.