The Motivation for Creating the WATESOL NNEST Caucus

TESOL Inc. established its Non-Native English Speaking Teachers (NNEST) Caucus back in 1998, to help fight discrimination against NNESTs and to help educate TESOL professionals, administrators, and employers to the genuine benefits that NNESTs bring to English Language Teaching. Since that time the NNEST Caucus has proved a bona fide success with almost 1,200 members, with several anthologies on NNEST issues in print or in press, with over 40 presentation titles at the Long Beach TESOL Convention where the acronym “NNEST” appeared in the title. The efforts of the TESOL NNEST Caucus had been supported by many members of the local TESOL community prior to 2004 including, Silvio Avendano, Godele Gulikers, Me Young Kim, Ximena Suarez, Gloria Park, Sarah Shin, Karen Taylor, and Brock Brady. (I know this list is not inclusive; forgive me if I left you out and drop me a line at

Still, many people locally are not familiar with the basic issues or research concerning non-native English speaking teachers, and employment discrimination is an issue that arises regularly. This being the case, in Fall 2004 the WATESOL Board authorized the creation of an NNEST Caucus.

NNEST Caucus' goals are the following:

  • Build awareness among WATESOLers about NNEST issues, esp. the strengths that NNESTs often bring to English Language Teaching
  • Contact local institutions making the case for NNESTs, and asking the institutions to fully and fairly consider NNEST candidates when making hiring decisions
  • Provide job search advice and counseling for NNESTs; esp. those trying to get started.
  • Create a reference service where participating NNESTs can provide tips on their home educational cultures to NEST WATESOL members planning go abroad to teach in the NNESTs' home countries.
  • Encourage collaboration between fellow NNESTS, and between both NNESTs and NESTs, both in terms of research and in peer teaching.
  • Dedicate one presentation session to research on NNEST issues each year at WATESOL’s Fall Convention. (Proposals for this session would be vetted as all Fall Convention proposals are.)

(Together with CATESOL NNLEI) Our Caucus is the only NNEST entity that functions as part of a local TESOL affiliate. 

CATESOL (California TESOL) has had Non-Native Language Educators' Issues Interest Group since 1992.

        However, in discussions with the Board and other interested WATESOL members, there seems to be little desire to consider a NNEST SIG (Special Interest Group). A primary argument for establish an NNEST entity as a caucus was that SIGs and caucuses may fulfill very different roles. Karen Taylor made a very good argument about this during the annual 2004 TESOL NNEST Caucus Business Meeting at the Long Beach Convention in March: SIGs tend to be about where you teach, Caucuses tend to be about who you are (or whom you choose to advocate for).

Thus, the WATESOL NNEST Caucus was established to...

  • provide educational outreach on NNEST issues, in both our local TESOL community and in the wider educational community,
  • be an explicit venue for NNESTs to address employment issues, and
  • help WATESOL to be seen as an innovative organization, responsive to its members needs, and inclusive in its orientation.