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American, Australian language teachers face discrimination

Date Posted: 1999-03-26

Australian language teachers hoping to find employment in Japan are fast discovering that the main character from the hit 1980s movie Crocodile Dundee has much to answer.

According to a report in the Asahi Evening News, several Australian language teachers are upset that their applications are being rejected simply because some schools believe the Australian accent is too broad for many of their students. Other Australian hopefuls on the mainland said they have sighted several advertisements stating applicants must be either American or British citizens.

Several teachers with work experience in Japan told Japan Update that schools often identify Australians with accents heard on TV or on the big screen. Unfortunately, said one former language teacher who taught in Jiyugaoka, Tokyo, many of the so-called Australians heard on television are in fact non-Australian actors who exaggerate the accent, sounding at times like a cross between a Scot and a New Zealander.

American teachers, added the Asahi, face similar problems. One Chinese-American teacher said schools refused to hire him because of his mixed heritage. Another hopeful, a Japanese-American teacher, said he waited more than 10 weeks to find a position, a delay he attributed to the fact that he was not Caucasian.

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