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I am new to the world of publishing in spite of my many years of experience teaching ESL.  Nevertheless, an opportunity opened up with the publisher Academic Study Kit to participate in the Legacy Series with a book on Non-native English Speaking Teachers or NNESTs, and since my co-author and I both belong to that realm, we took up the challenge. Many people talk about publishing and getting published as being a real nightmare; a world where you are constantly overcoming rejection.  This situation is even worse for people who do not belong to the inner circle. However, our book was published by an Indie publisher that is making a few waves in the ELT world for going against the grain of mainstream publishers. I feel that what made our book publishable were two factors:  Finding the right publishing team and presenting an interesting topic with a fresh perspective while being clear about our identity.

Working with an open-minded woman publisher who believes in equity and who thinks that voices outside the mainstream should be heard and taken seriously was perhaps the most important element of the process. Fortunately, in the process, Julie Pratten’s editor Catriona Watson-Brown also became a fundamental part in our success by being ruthless in her editoria and comments while at the same time being open to suggestions and recommendations.

Regarding the topic of NNESTs, although it has been dealt with extensively, I feel there is room for discussion and I felt strongly about what to write, which in my case, was basically from my own personal experience.  Nevertheless, adjusting to the point of view of our British publishers while making sure not to give up my own perspective or compromise my identity was important.

Publishing internationally made me feel as part of the real world and that my voice and point of view mattered and could be heard in different latitudes.  

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

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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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