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NNESTs get published

by Elizabeth Bekes

Is there fairness and equity in the EFL world? If we look at the ELT publishing business, what we see is that it is the traditional, well-established companies that sweep it all: they have the resources to sign up the best authors, create, publish and distribute expensive sets of course books with all that has become the accepted norm in the trade: not just the course book and the teacher’s book, but media packs, online courses, blended learning packages – you name it, the big players have it.

This means that about eighty percent of the workforce (non-native English speaker teachers) has little or no say on what gets published and necessarily struggle to make the materials applicable and relevant to their circumstances. It is just not possible to follow the rule of “one size fits all” in a world that is “glocal”: global, for which International English is required, and “local”, a fact that acknowledges that local variants of English are diverging to the extent that the inner circle of core English speaking countries are unable to accommodate or assimilate all that comes from the periphery.

In sum, there is imbalance when it comes to materials writing, publishing, distribution and representation. The latter applies to the fact that international speakers are mostly white (and white-haired) men from the inner circle, who often do not even realize that the playing field is by far not level. There can be a triple disadvantage for female, non-native speaker English teachers without any hope of getting published or being heard.

This is where Academic Study Kit comes in and is significant in addressing the balance: it is a small, independent publisher run by a female ELT educator and social entrepreneur, Julie Pratten. She’s had the courage and the business acumen to haul in the talent out there. She’s been looking for quality and took the trouble to lift her eyes and look beyond what is within reach. She’s published native AND non-native English speakers, and she has found sympathetic suppliers and distributors. And another key factor is the quality of editorial; Julie has been able to secure the skills of Catriona Watson-Brown, one of the best editors in the business, and the dedicated designer Ziaul Haque.

Obviously, the instigator of such an initiative needs to have surplus drive, and determination plus a large helping of resilience.  She needs to believe in herself and others and believe that what she is doing can really address the balance in some way. Finally, I think this type of initiative shows us that it is possible to do things differently in the highly competitive world of publishing. I would like to think that our industry (ELT) is still made up of a core community of talented and experienced professionals who believe that people and education come before business.

Suggested reading:

Bekes, E., & Carrasco M. (2017). Why NNESTs? International English and the implications for teacher development. Published by Academic Study Kit.


Medgyes, P. (2017). The Non-native teacher. Published by Swan Communications.


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