ESL Jobs for Non-native Speakers

What Companies Hire Non-native Speakers as ESL Teachers?

Many online ESL companies hire non-native speakers to teach English online. I repeat you do not need to be a native speaker of English to be a successful online English teacher.

Who qualifies as a native speaker of English?

First of all, there is quite a lot of disagreement about what constitutes a “native speaker”. Due to the colonialist and globalist history of the English language, the notion of a native speaker is problematic at best, and often just classist or racist.

What ESL Jobs for Non-native Speakers Can I Apply to?

However, you are probably not here to debate the degree of racism that is inherent in the notion of a “native speaker”. You just want to get hired! So, here are the top companies that will hire you even if you do not hold an American, British, Australian, Canadian (and so on) passport.

ESL companies that hire non-native speakers to teach English online

ESL Platforms that hire non-native speakers to teach English online

Pay for Non-native Speakers of English Teaching ESL

Many ESL companies pay teachers less if they consider them “non-native speakers”. Similarly, companies like itutorgroup will tie your hourly pay to the living wage of your country of residency, regardless of whether or not English is your native language. While a “native speaker” with a BA typically earns $15-20 an hour, a “non-native speaker” even with a BA may earn $5 an hour. This is due to supply and demand: companies know there are many educated professionals in Eastern Europe, for example, who can speak English fluently and teach it while living in a country with an exchange rate that favors the dollar.

In this respect, I think Cambly should be really appreciated. Cambly, though it pays relatively poorly at roughly $10/hour, pays South Africans the same as an Amercan teacher living in New York City.

What do ESL companies mean when they say they want a “native speaker of English”?

In the wider world, there is quite a lot of disagreement about what constitutes a “native speaker”. As you can imagine, “what does native speaker mean?” is a politicized question mired in complex cultural and even socio-economic implications. If you are asking “what does it mean to be a native speaker of English?” then the answer is deceptively self-evident: a person whose first language- the primary language used by their family, school and peers- was English.

 However, English is not only found in America, Canada, and the United Kingdom. English is also used in Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland and it is used as a lingua franca in the many former territories of the British Empire, Liberia, the Philippines, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau, which were American territories. English is also the sole official language of the Commonwealth of Nations and of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). We could go on and on.

Contemporary English is unmoored from specific cultural identities: its growth influenced by past colonialism, its resultant globalism, and the ever-expanding internet

Then consider that many people are raised bilingually. Some were even raised speaking English and grew up in America, but may not have the citizenship or documents to prove that English is their native language. Other English teachers were raised in countries with a legacy of colonialism. English is one of their country’s primary languages, but foreigners may not associate English with their country.

Some majority native English speaking countries that ESL companies might not accept as “native-speakers” though English might be the applicant’s primary language:

  • Antigua and Barbuda.
  • The Bahamas.
  • Barbados.
  • Belize.
  • Dominica.
  • Grenada.
  • Guyana.
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Malta
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago

The bottom line is that different companies qualify native speakers differently. For example, some do not accept teachers from South Africa or the Phillippines, though South Africa and the Phillippines list English as an official language. Are Indians native speakers of English? Depends on the company’s policy.

Some companies qualify these many applicants as native speakers and others do not. Note that even the American Dialect Society says there is no agreed-upon definition of who can be considered a native speaker of English.

ESL companies that hire teachers for students based across Europe, the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia defer to British English as a standard English
ESL companies that hire teachers for students based across Europe, the Caribbeansub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia defer to British English as a standard English

Can I teach for an ESL Company online if I have an accent?

Then, to add to the confusion about native and non-native speakers, some companies want specific accents. Some would like British English and others (like VIPKid) only want American accents. If you are British, you are in luck! There are many companies that are specifically interested in a British accent.

Well, as the British say, I’m knackered.

Cheerio and happy teaching.


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