Sussex Centre for Language Studies

Seminar series

SCLS runs several strands of open seminars; all welcome.

The Sussex Centre for Language Studies organises events in the Language Learning Centre, Arts A, twice a term. Invited speakers on a wide range of topics set language in its wider context and respond to questions from the floor. Events are free, open to all.

"Do I sound white (enough)?" - Exploring the status and identities of visible ethnic minority, native English speaker teachers.

Dr Eljee Javier (University of Sussex)
Wednesday 6 December, 17.30-18.30 (drinks from 17.15)
Language Learning Centre (Arts A)

In the professional world of TESOL, the native English speaker (NES) / non-native English speaker (NNES) dichotomy is an entrenched hierarchy that affects how teachers are perceived and valued. Within the international English language education business, the NES status is often associated with a white racial profile. The view that NES are preferred English language teachers remains the dominant preference in which employment opportunities are made available to those that fit the racial and linguistic criteria. As a NES of Filipino ethnic origins, I am visibly not part of this profile and, as I have experienced, visible ethnic minorities can find that their NES identity is not acknowledged by students, school managers and even NNESTs.

In this presentation, I introduce the term “VEM-NEST” - visible ethnic minority, native English speaking teacher - as a way of further problematizing the NES / NNES dichotomy. In this multi-stage, narrative-based study I further problematize the NES preference by examining the experiences of visible ethnic minorities who are native English speaking teachers (VEM-NESTs). I discuss how VEM-NESTs have subverted the dominant NES storyline and through this subversive stance, reconstruct their racial and linguistic identities in response to the resistance they encountered when striving to be recognized as a 'legitimate' English language professional. The findings have implications on the criteria currently used for evaluating the worth of English language teachers, NES and NNES.

There will be opportunities for attendees to raise questions and engage with the presenter about the topic and related ideas.

All welcome - drinks from 5.15pm. 

Speaker biography: Dr Eljee Javier is a Teaching Fellow in English Language Teaching at the University of Sussex Centre for Language Studies. Prior to her current role, she worked as a Researcher Development Officer and a part-time lecturer for the University of Manchester. She is from Canada, and has worked in China and Australia as an EFL teacher. She has an MA TESOL (2007), MSc Educational Research (2010), and a PhD Education (2015) from the University of Manchester.


  • Past speakers include:
    • Deborah Smith, International Man Booker prize-winning translator, editor and publisher, Translating from the Margins. Audio recording available (for members of the University of Sussex only).
    • Caterina Mazzilli (Migration Studies, University of Sussex), Receptive Cities - Brighton and Bologna.
    • John Walker and Marco Nardi (British Sign Language, University of Sussex), Interpreting beyond words.
    • Professor Lyn Thomas and Lewes writer Tanya Shadrick: Diaries of the Outside: Annie Ernaux's urban journals and Tanya Shadrick's Wild Patience Scrolls.
    • Professor Andy Kirkpatrick (Griffith University, Brisbane): English as a Medium of Instruction in Asian Universities: challenges and prospects. [PowerPoint slides - audio recording below]
      Andy Kirkpatrick - English as a Medium of Instruction in Asian Universities:
    • Maria Jastrzᶒbska, poet, editor and translator: Between Worlds (What makes a Polish writer Polish or a British writer British?).
    • Christophe Landry (Sussex): The Internet, social media, endangered language and identity renaissance.
    • Chris McDermott, University of Sussex lead chaplain on the Art of Conflict and the Conflict in Art.
    • True Tales from the Old Hill - launch of this anthology of sixty tales, in conjunction with the Frogmore Press and the Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research at the University of Sussex.
    • Yvonne Salt (Sussex Centre for Migration Research): 'Language, Space and Love Migration' - website - exploring the emotional side of migration, and considering how people talk about and understand their love migration.
    • Pam Thurschwell (English, Sussex) and Jeremy Page (SCLS, Sussex): 'Morrissey and Marr Revisited: A Conversation about The Smiths' - discussing the legendary 80s rock band, their significance, their legacy, and Morrissey's controversial autobiography.
      A transcript of this event has been published on the Iowa Review blog, and there is a recording available below:
      Jeremy Page and Pam Thurschwell (University of Sussex) - A Conversation about The Smiths
    • Dr Paul Davies (Philosophy, Sussex): 'Language and Fiction' - recording available - exploring the logical, moral and metaphysical problems posed by the topic of fiction.
    • John Walker (Deaf Studies, Sussex): 'Sign language and spatiality' - discussing how the relationship between spatiality and sign language is manifested.
    • Prof Andrew Hadfield (English, Sussex): 'Travel, Tourism and The Sensible Observations of George Sandys' - exploring recent and early modern ideas of the relationship between the two conceptions of travel and encounter.
    • Dr Lynne Murphy (Linguistics, Sussex): 'The most acceptable hypocrisy'? Polite words in the UK and US - exploring differences between British and American English and their implications for inter-cultural communication.
    • Dr Micheline Maupoint (French, Sussex): The role and impact of cartoons in contemporary France - considering whether political cartoons remain as a significant cultural product in an era where the existence of print media is threatened by new technological developments.
    • Sasha Dugdale (Modern Poetry in Translation journal): Modern poetry and translation - reading her own poems as well as her translations of Russian poets, with discussion of the challenges of translating poetry.
    • Jules Winchester (Sussex Conversational Humour in Intercultural Interactions - exploring some of the general theories and functions of humour)
    • Dr Simon Coffey (King's College London): Narrative Positioning and Agency in Intercultural Encounters - discussing ways in which narrative approaches can extend our understanding of the experience of language learning.
    • Alexandra Loske (Art History, University of Sussex): Languages of Colour - exploring different approaches and attitudes to colour and how it is used as a tool in various art forms and disciplines.
    • Irina Mashinski (Cardinal Points journal) and Sasha Dugdale: Poetry reading by bilingual poets and translators, in association with the University of Sussex Russian Society

Research on English Language Teaching

The Language Learning Centre also hosts occasional University of Sussex Russian Society seminars.