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I’m afraid I have to add some bile to my writing today. I’ve just read a long article called “Ze schreeuwen hier om Nederlanders” in the on-line “Intermediair Weekblad” about what jobless Dutch, or those threatened by losing their jobs, could do to try to find a career abroad. With the third lowest jobless rate in the EU, no wonder most of the advice talks about opportunities far out in the world, although Sweden also comes into the picture. It may be true that Dutch people can learn Swedish fast, but jobless rates are higher there than in the Netherlands. So I, a desperate Middle-European job-seeker here, may ask, how dare they think about invading a country with even higher jobless rates than the Netherlands?

English: The logo of Dutch magazine Intermediair.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Regrettably, writing an answer to the article is not possible, but some of the ideas expressed therein blow the fuse in the mind, and the Swedish possibility is only a smaller one. The reason is that the advice goes directly against their own well-hidden discriminating practices.

A large part of the posts in this blog explain in quite a detail why an English teacher from abroad, at least those not from English-speaking countries, are regularly pushed down the line of applicants for teaching jobs. The main reasons, as already described, are mainly a lack of knowledge of the local language, a lack of experience in the local educational context, and then, by the time one learns the language, the time-gap one has accumulated without teaching. Never mind that English is taught in English everywhere in the world, the Dutch teach English in Dutch. Never mind that, bar one or the other of these factors, the foreigner may be far better at doing the real job. And that may be dangerous.

Oh, no, they do not answer so. What they nicely say is,

Er heeft een selcetie plaatsgevonden onder alle kandidaten, daarbij is gelet op de gestelde functie-eisen, de opleiding en ervaring. We hebben een keuze gemaakt tussen de kandidaten die aan het gestelde profiel voldoen. Met die groep van kandidaten zullen wij een oriënterend gesprek voeren.

If this were only the fifth, or tenth, or tentieth answer to this effect, I may be inclined to believe. But I am not the only one who has already been trying in vain to get even to an interview. For me, this just the other day was at least the one-hundred-and-fiftieth, but I haven’t been counting, it may be far more. At the same time, I seem to be able to get a job teaching English at a company in the early afternoons a few days a week. How does it happen that I get such a job? I’ll tell you how: there are not many more Dutch who can and dare, and who have the time for it. Most already sit in jobs at schools and are busy staying there in the afternoons. There are not so many, definitely not 70 applicants per vacancy as the refusals sometimes claim. Besides, I doubt that many teacher-trainers with 30 years of experience and some at university level who have also taken part in course-book writing are looking for a new workplace in this country. The only problem this school could have against me was that I am too experienced, or old, or foreign. Which is discrimination. Despite the regular well-wishing at the end of each and every refusal. Which, in this way, has already become farcical and mocking for me.

Against this background, my question is: how dare somebody even vaguely suggest that the poor Dutch should try and work in China, Vietnam, Cambodia, or the like? Do they already speak Chinese, or Vietnamese, or Khmer, or Thai for that matter? Have they already got experience in those educational systems? Do they want to get Eastern-European levels of income? Does it suffice? The article does mention that employment requirements have become stricter in China lately, meaning they want only native speakers. Fair. But the Dutch are not native speakers, and they have no knowledge of the local language and system, so please, forget about it. They should stay here and go on stopping Eastern-Europeans or South-Europeans from using their considerable, often better, skills in the English classrooms and let them take those Asian jobs. If Dutch people are so adventurous as the article describes them, why don’t they sometimes switch to delivering letters, or scrubbing floors here if there is no school job, as Eastern-European teachers are forced to?

I encourage institutions around the world to send back the applications of Dutch applicants to English-teaching jobs out there. Treat them to the same medicine they offer us here. I know from experience that some of us Eastern-Europeans have already worked there, we know the ways, we deserve getting those jobs. We don’t get our chances here, so we deserve them there better and we need them more. The Dutch would only be able to teach English in Asia using Dutch anyway. They are trained to do so, they have no experience explaining difficult stuff in English! 

The Dutch Empire during the 17th and 18th cent...

The Dutch Empire during the 17th and 18th centuries: in light green the Dutch East India Company, in dark green is the Dutch West India Company. In yellow the territories occupied later, during the 19th century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do not let them go on and enjoy their geographical and historical advantages. Treat them fairly: based on their skills and knowledge. They are helpful, friendly and cheerful people on the streets and in offices, but not creative in the classroom. They mostly got as far as the ‘grammar-translation method.’ Just look at some of their language tests …

Fortunately for some, I have to admit that language institutions providing language development courses at in-company training use material published by large British/American publishers. They order directly from publishers, that’s why ordinary people can’t get them in book-stores. However, teachers teaching in-company may be well-trained in giving lessons exclusively in English.

by P.S.

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