Javier, Eljee (PhD alumnus)
My name is Eljee Javier and I completed my PhD (thesis, viva and corrections) in February 2015. You can say that I’m living proof that you can finish a PhD. For my doctorate I was on the 1+3 PhD programme as GTRA Studentship Award. Prior to that I was a MA TESOL (2007) graduate from this very same LTE group. Currently, I teach at The University of Manchester on different postgraduate programmes.
My journey started in 2002. I was fresh out of university, having graduated from 4 year education degree and yet was working long hours managing a coffee shop. At the time I didn’t think it mattered that I wasn’t teaching. I was young, independent, and making my own way in the world! My “AH-HA” moment arrived around 5:30am while I was opening the coffee shop. It was a dark, cold winter morning and I remember thinking – with great honesty and a degree of desperation – that I didn’t want to do this for the rest of my life.
So I enrolled onto a one month, TESOL teacher training course as preparation to go overseas. (Why it takes one month to qualify as an English language teacher vs. four years for to qualify as a teacher is another discussion). After the course I applied for overseas teaching posts, eager to leave as soon as possible to start my new career as an English language teacher. The waiting turned into a month…and then three months. It would be this cycle of filling in applications, then gaining acceptance with a request for a photo, sending my photo and then being rejected. I was wondering why I was being turned down for literally every EFL post. Clearly frustrated I finally asked one of the recruitment agencies why I wasn’t getting any job offers despite my qualifications? I remember the answer as clear as day:
“Well, we don’t really hire Asian looking teachers. Sorry.”
And so began my journey to find out why this occurs and why it seems to be accepted in the TESOL profession. Eventually, I did get a teaching post in China and worked for a great school! Several years later I enrolled onto the MA TESOL course in 2006. During my MA studies, my main interests were focused on the identity of visible ethnic minority native English speaking teachers (or VEM-NEST for short). I wanted to make sense of my own experiences as a native teacher of colour and see if others, with similar backgrounds like me, shared a common ground.
Recently I completed my thesis, titled “Narratively explored role identities of visible ethnic minority native English speaking teachers in TESOL” in which I continued to study this particular group of teachers and implications my study has on the TESOL profession.