The School of Tribulation

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On the SOT graduation weekend, the two-hour service was run entirely by the graduating cohort—a showcase of what the students had learned in the past seven months. Angela Tan, 21, from Singapore, Nagata Aika, 24 from Japan and Dai Jie, 24 from Hong Kong kick-started the service, leading the congregation in vibrant praise and worship. Next, past and current SOT students put up a light-hearted drama production depicting the journey of five SOT students, who grew from squabbling individuals who struggled to stay awake in class to a team that supported each other during difficult times.

The drama production left many in stitches with its spot-on portrayal of events that all SOT graduates could identify with. In order to follow their calling to attend SOT, Wang, a training consultant, planned to leave her job while Liu, a co-owner of a building and interior design company, had to face the challenge of managing his business from overseas.

The couple decided to enrol in SOT despite the uphill task of fulfilling their monthly mortgage payments during this period. Meanwhile, Liu not only managed his company while studying in Singapore, he also saw a continuous flow of business coming in during the seven months. Liu shared with the congregation that although he was introverted by nature, the training at SOT had enlarged his capacity, giving him the confidence and the desire to preach the Word of God.

Both Liu and Wang not only grew in their faith and love for God through spiritual encounters, they also rekindled their love for each other. Luo Shuai, 29, from Hong Kong shared his seven-minute sermon in the Sunday service. Religious leaders are also very concerned over what is happening to marriage. Strengthening marriage is the top of five goals set by the bishops as pastoral priorities for the coming year. One of the ways they are doing this is through the Web site Marriage: Unique for a Reason. At the moment the first of five planned videos is available, with a second due to be online by the end of The videos are complemented by viewer's guides and resource booklets.

Pope Benedict XVI has also repeatedly expressed his distress over the breakdown of family and married life. In the following weeks the pope repeated his insistence that family and marriage should be defended in addresses to new ambassadors from Costa Rica, Eucador, Colombia and El Salvador. Then, on Dec. Marriage is under erosion due to greater possibilities of divorce, cohabitation prior to marriage and the introduction of new types of union that have "no foundation in the history of the culture and of the law in Europe," he told the ambassador.

Words that apply not only to Europe, but to many other parts of the world. Religious Catalogue.

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But the question of TEFL Equity is currently gaining more and more attention in numerous forums, and there is a growing campaign to raise awareness of continuing discrimination against so-called non-native English speaker teachers NNESTs. I have gained some interesting insights, including comments like:. The key thing for us is that teachers are good enough to meet our standards.

We seem to be silently advocating the myth that Nests are best. But first I want to look back on my experience. Where have I stood within this debate?

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Reflecting on my track record as a recruiter of teachers, my first thought was that I have always approached recruitment in a fair and equal way. Once I had this experience as a manager of recruiting and working with a non-native teacher, the benefits and advantages that NNESTs could bring to a teaching team were clear. I was much more interested in what non-native applicants could offer, and after Maja, other non-native recruits followed.

I may have had occasional doubts about accent but his attitude towards CPD was something I was really keen to have on the team, and again, not necessarily typical of the native applicants or staff members at the time. They all had an excellent grasp of the language, having learnt it themselves to a very high level; their knowledge of grammar was arguably better than a lot of the native teachers on the team. And since then I have continued to consider and recruit non-native teachers, and it has, more often than not, been a very positive experience.

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And my position now is this: when looking to recruit a great teacher, you absolutely should not discount applications from NNESTs. The process must be fair and equal. So, back to the management research. As mentioned above, I wanted to find out how other academic managers approached recruitment, and what attitudes there were towards recruiting non-native teachers.

I composed the following short survey and sent it to as many managers and management associations as I could reach:. Do you employ non-native English speaking teachers? If not, do you or your school have specific reasons for that? If yes, what is the approximate ratio of non-natives to native speaker teachers on your teaching staff?

If yes, have you ever had any complaints or problems….

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What have you done in these cases? What was the outcome? This is admittedly small in scale but the research data and the broader comments from the respondents do provide some useful insights:. According to the respondents, if students complain, it tends to be for the following reasons in order of frequency :. Managers dealing with these issues, or wary of potential complaints, proposed a number of strategies:. The majority, however, said they would discuss the situation and explain the key information to the complaining student, namely that.

Overall , it seems that there are some positives and some negatives in the responses. Ten managers, however, do not. In some cases students and agents complain, but nearly all managers said they had resolved issues in a relatively simple way and come up with a range of strategies to handle them. Many respondents commented that it was important for non-natives to have a high level of competence in English, which for some also meant having an accent which was not overly pronounced:.

We look at the same skill set for both experience, attitude, language analysis, clear pron etc.

Our NN teachers are amongst the best and most popular. The clear majority of respondents go on to elaborate on the positives that incorporating NNESTs onto their teaching team has brought them, including in order of frequency :. In my experience those employed in the UK are less prone to coasting. They know the classroom from the other side, and they know the problems and challenges that learners face because they have faced and overcome them themselves.

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As a result they are often adept at lowering the affective filter. Most share the fact that they are not native speakers with their students and use their background to inspire and motivate students. Despite some of the positives coming out of this small scale research, it is clear that discrimination and prejudice continue to occur in ELT recruitment. The main reasons given for not recruiting non-native teachers, however, are based on stereotypes and false assumptions.

Recruiters still continue to value teachers more highly because of where they are from, even to the point of ignoring applicants with better qualifications, experience and teaching skills. An important step in finding a solution to this is certainly to do with raising awareness, and one way of doing that is through networks and associations.

You can see the resulting statement here. What was reassuring in that meeting was the level of conviction among the members present in the need for fair recruitment practices, and the range of positive experiences in working with non-native teachers in London.

I might add that it is also encouraging to see non-native Directors of Studies becoming more and more common in our association. Managers need to understand that NNESTs offer many positives, and that student and agent expectations can be dealt with and explained away. I think my research shows that in the UK, a large number of schools employ non-native teachers with positive outcomes, and if it works here, where the majority of students are incoming visitors, then it should work in other contexts. I hope that the recruiters who do not recruit non-natives reflect on these positive experiences.

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So to sum up, definitely the perception is out there that native is best…but if you have a strong relationship with parents and students it is not insurmountable to shift things and lots of positives can come through that. If only we had recruited more positive or more committed staff…. It all starts with recruitment. A language teaching organisation, after all, is only as great as its teachers.

But recruiting teachers is not a straightforward process. It is time-consuming, and complex, it involves human fallibility, and is easy to get wrong. And often, the managers tasked with hiring have little or no training in HR. A team of teachers is made up of varying personalities, degrees of experience, and areas of expertise. You might know that you need a new teacher for a certain course type, or for specific groups of learners.