About us

#ELTtoo: working to build safer work environments for everyone.
#ELTtoo is a movement of educators who want the voices of people that have been harassed, bullied and intimidated to be heard, no matter who they are or where they are.
Our mission is to work with people to raise awareness of these issues and provide support, guidance and appropriate training so that all our work environments are harassment- and bullying-free.

#ELTtoo is a call for real change in ELT for all genders worldwide.

What are we doing?

  • Raising awareness of the serious issue of abuse, harassment and bullying
  • Sharing personal stories
  • Sharing information about sexual misconduct, harassment and bullying: what it is, and actions you can take if you are a victim of abuse
  • Actively supporting the idea of a safe, fair and comfortable workplace for all
  • Working together with professional bodies and organisations to share and provide clear guidelines and support for ELT professionals

What are we being careful to NOT do?

  • If any individuals feel bad about any of their past actions and as a result of this campaign decide to re-evaluate their own code of ethics and change their future actions, that is great news. HOWEVER, we are not here to name and shame.  We want to look forward not back, to help build a better future for educators.

No more silence. No more ignoring. No more tolerance of harassment, abuse or discrimination.

An open letter to all ELT professionals

Dear fellow ELTers

We are writing on the behalf of teachers, academic managers, teacher trainers, materials writers, researchers and other professionals who work in ELT. The recent #metoo campaign brought to light just how prevalent sexual harassment and bullying is in our profession. Many people came forward to tell what had happened and is still happening to them on a daily basis in their places of work and at public events. Your stories have been heard and we thank you for sharing them so openly and bravely. 

The serious problem with harassment and bullying in our profession needs to be addressed openly and honestly. 

People need to feel confident that if they are subjected to any kind of abuse, they will be listened to and appropriate action will be taken by employers, fellow professionals and teaching associations. 

There must be clear policies and procedures in place that allow them to report incidents so they can be followed up and dealt with. 

We want people to be held accountable for their behaviours and by doing so, make our profession a safe and equitable place for everyone.

Unfortunately, we have allowed harassment to go on too long, making excuses for the perpetrators or thinking that if we ignore it, it may just improve or go away. Harassment happens because perpetrators never face consequences, often because we think that, because nothing has ever happened in the past, nothing will happen if we say something when things have been reported. We may feel too afraid and intimidated by a perpetrator with a status in the industry able to influence our employment prospects. 

We want this to change. We want to tell your stories through our voice so that we can make ELT a safer place for all.

Yours Sincerely,

Varinder Unlu, and the ever increasing supporters of this movement from all genders.

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This happened to me during my first year of teaching – with my first group of adults, which I was really excited to teach. There were 7 students – 3 men and 4 women. During the first lesson when we were getting to know each other, one of the girls said that she worked for a publishing house. “A public house?” – asked one of the guys and started laughing, because in Russian it means “a whorehouse”. Another guy joined in on this laughter. I told them I didn’t understand why it was supposed to be funny, and the first guy said: “Of course you don’t”.
That was just the beginning. Two of the guys teamed up and every lesson made it their job to squeeze sexist, really insulting comments into every discussion. The other man just said nothing. It was everything from “women have no brains, do they?” to “you better go, fix me a sandwich”. After a short while three of the girls stopped coming to our lessons. I tried to ignore, tried to ask them to stop, but they just laughed – it was clear that that was a very enjoyable game for them. Once I tried talking to them after class. I asked them “Why do you do this?” – and one of them simply said “You’re just so funny when you get mad, shorty, it’s a good laugh”.
I tried talking to the management. Our ADoS said that they hadn’t received any complaints from the students, so I was just exaggerating. Couldn’t I take a joke?? I guess she thought I was incompetent. I still sometimes think I was – and that I should’ve done something differently, said something to stop them insulting not just me, but also other women in that group. I insisted on our ADoS observing one of the lessons. It was one of the worst lessons. Of course they didn’t make any of those comments, they just sat there, looking bored and not saying anything the whole time. In the end they said that they didn’t understand anything, because my explanations were unclear. My ADoS in the post-observation feedback agreed with them. She said I was unfair to them, they were bored because of the lack of understanding, etc. She said I had to work harder, and that it was probably a bad idea to trust me with a group of adults because I clearly wasn’t coping well with the challenge, given the failed lesson and the drop-out rate.

There’s nothing funny about sexist jokes.

Since setting up #ELTtoo in January 2018, it has been received with a mixed response. Many have written to me privately to thank me for starting up a site which supports people who have been bullied or harassed. Others have thanked me publicly. We have also managed to help a few people resolve some workplace issues they were going through by supporting and advising them through this.  It has also made a difference in other ways too.
Of course, not everyone has been positive and supportive. When I wrote the article for EL Gazette, which was the springboard for ELTtoo, at the end of 2017, I almost withdrew it from being published several times as I was worried about the backlash. I knew that it would cause upset and offence and I may lose friends and colleagues over it. And, unsurprisingly, that is just what happened. I have had some very strong messages, some from people who don’t even know me, questioning my motives and telling me that I am only causing problems by doing this. Some see me as a trouble maker and others a threat. I am neither of those things.
The most obvious change in people’s behaviour towards me was very noticeable at the recent IATEFL conference in Brighton. There were some who would normally have been friendly in the past who couldn’t look me in the eye or talk to me. Others who couldn’t avoid me were very awkward and uncomfortable around me and couldn’t wait to get away, almost as if they were afraid to be seen talking to me.  You know who you are.
Then there are those who think that ELTtoo is about them and that it’s out to get them. I find this reaction the strangest of all. You shouldn’t have anything to worry about if you haven’t done anything wrong. Why then would you think that this movement is about you? When you are calling your ELT friends worried that some of the stories shared on the site are about you, I’m afraid I have to question that. You know what they say about a guilty conscience…
However, ELTtoo was never about ‘getting people’. It is about raising awareness and helping those who need their voices heard and believed. I’m not someone who stands by and watches others being mistreated in any way. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I will speak my mind and stand up for those who feel they can’t. Since ELTtoo went live, the number of stories shared has been shocking and very upsetting. This is not about me, I don’t gain anything from it except the satisfaction of knowing people have somewhere to turn to.
I know it’s difficult to hear stories of abuse but it’s even more difficult for the victims who have been bullied or harassed to come forward and share their experiences. They are incredibly brave in my opinion. The cowards are those who are guilty of abuse and harassment, those who refuse to acknowledge it and those who refuse to support.
Think whatever you want about me but ELTtoo is here to stay. It has been silent recently due to my heavy work commitments, but it is always here for those who need it.

Some thoughts…