Is English really for everyone?
Not according to a YouTube channel named… English for Everyone.
The creators of this channel have published a series of critical videos targeting the mistakes of another YouTube creator with millions of followers – Marina Mogilko.
Marina, a non-native speaker, immigrant, and a very successful creator and entrepreneur is an example of what’s possible when you use English to reach your dreams, and you don’t let your mistakes hold you back.
But apparently, this seems to really bother the ’English for Everyone’ duo, who are on a mission to ‘expose’ Marina and portray her as a fraud, DESPITE the immense value she brings to her audience. (The numbers speak for themselves, yo!)
But it’s not just Marina that they are targeting.
It affects every non-native speaker who may one day dare to speak publicly.
It’s validating the worst thoughts almost every non-native speaker has.
It’s sending a message to non-native speakers that mistakes will cost them their dignity.
In this video I want to share how problematic this approach is, the negative impact it has on the mindset of learners, and why we need to call people out on such behaviors so we can foster an environment that allows everyone to thrive.
I also want to use this opportunity to show solidarity to my fellow non-native speaking teachers and say – WE NEED MORE OF YOU!
WE NEED MORE NON-STANDARD ENGLISH VOICES IN THE ENGLISH TEACHING INDUSTRY.
Don’t let the grammar police and those who think that English belongs to them stop you from reaching your dreams, making an impact, motivating people, and driving students to take action in a positive way.
Because at the end of the day, what REALLY counts, is that you dare to speak.
And say what you think and want.
And how you make others feel.
And what DOESN’T count – is if you used ‘at’ instead of ‘on’.
I also want to use this opportunity to give a shoutout to my fellow non-native English speaking creators teaching in English.
You ROCK and you’re making a difference!
Lingua Marina: https://www.youtube.com/@linguamarina
English Fluency Journey: https://www.youtube.com/c/EnglishFluencyJourney
Antonio Parlati (Learn English): https://www.youtube.com/@englishwithantonio
Ben | Pronunciation Coach: https://www.instagram.com/pronunciationwithben
Csabi Berger English Coach: https://www.youtube.com/c/CsabiBergerEnglish
TEFL Equity Advocates & Academy with Marek Kiczkowiak: https://www.youtube.com/c/TEFLEquityAdvocates
Learn English: 5-Minute Language: https://www.youtube.com/user/5minutelanguage
Fluent English With Lady Giraffe: https://www.youtube.com/c/FluentEnglishWithLadyGiraffe
Welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, your host. And this is episode number 268.
Hey everyone, thank you so much for tuning in and joining me today. I’m happy that you’re here. Today I have a slightly different episode. If you know me, you know that I am all about collaboration and support and empowerment and positivity. But sometimes I get angry. And when I do, I have to be vocal about it. And this episode is exactly about that.
Because sometimes I see things in the online teaching industry, in particular, YouTube, on social media, I see things that really bother me. They bother me so much because they are designed to literally ruin people’s fluency and, often, people’s credibility, fostering competition, negativity, and that is detrimental for the work that we do. It ruins people’s confidence, perception of what English is, what good English is, what fluency is.
And today I’m gonna talk about that because I was exposed recently to something that’s been happening on YouTube, and we need to talk about it. I think we should all be more critical when it comes to the content we’re consuming and the things that we’re seeing. And also, we need to foster a sense of solidarity.
Because in short, what is going to be discussed in this episode, is a non-native speaking teacher being criticized by other teachers online, publicly. And being shamed for her mistakes, missing out the point completely of English being a tool to make an impact in your life and to immerse yourself in content that sometimes is not aligned with grammar books, and that is OK.
And whether you’re a teacher, a student, a grammar lover, a pronunciation student, or just a passive learner, whoever you are listening to this today, this is for you. Because these are things that I believe we should all be aware of, and do better. So let’s listen.
Is English for everyone? Well, of course… unless you are a successful non-native English-speaking female YouTube creator. Let me tell you a story. A couple of weeks ago, I got a message from my friend Daniela, telling me, “Hadar, you have to check out this recent video that is getting some attention on YouTube. I’m really curious to hear what you think.” Of course, due to my curious nature and natural inclination for a little bit of YouTube drama, I immediately went and checked what this was about.
Now, at first, I thought it was just another, you know, ‘stop saying’ video made in collaboration with the creators that you see now on the screen. But it took me a hot minute to understand what was really going on.
“St[ei]tus’ is kinda more academic”. “In America, we always say st[a]tus. We never say st[ei]tus”.
“It was a highway robbery”. “We cannot say ‘a highway robbery”.
“Just exaggerating it: garb[a]ge is wrong, garb[i]ge is right.” “No, Americans are not wrong. We do not say ‘Mercedes’. We don’t say ‘pizza’. We cannot say m[o]dern, m[o].”
I was shocked because it turns out that Kevin and Lisa, the creators of this video, and actually similar videos on their channel, actually decided to go through a bunch of videos created by Marina Mogilko – also known as linguamarina, she has three very successful YouTube channels – pointing out every mistake, slip of the tongue, or pronunciation inconsistency they could find.
Now listen, I don’t personally know Marina. And even though we sometimes might have different views about how to teach English, I absolutely admire and respect her for being a prolific YouTube creator, a very successful entrepreneur, a mom, and also showing up unapologetically despite the criticism. And with millions of subscribers and very successful business, she actually doesn’t need my help advocating for her. She can do a pretty good job at speaking up for herself.
“Yes, I’m a creator. Yes, I get hate. Yes, I get criti… Yes, I make mistakes and I admit it. Everyone makes mistakes. The best teachers in the world make mistakes. And by the way, I think the best teacher in the world is not the one who makes mistakes, it’s the one who motivates.
Because we’re teaching… like when you’re teaching something, you’re giving people instrument, and this instrument has to work. You can have the most perfect English in the world, but if it doesn’t make your life better, why would you even have it?”
So, the reason why I am recording this video is because I believe that there are some behaviors in the online teaching industry, YouTube in particular, that need to be called out if we wanna foster a healthy, non-competitive, and supportive environment. And you know what? It’s not just for creators. But also, and even most importantly, for our audience. Because when learning a language, this is the only environment that allows people to thrive. Not a competitive, judgmental environment.
And if you feel that even though you’ve been learning English for so long, you’re still consumed by the fears of making mistakes or of speaking, or what people are going to think of you, I believe that videos like these are a big part of the problem and why you feel the way you feel. So, for those of you who haven’t watched the video – and please don’t go and watch it now, don’t contribute to adding more views – I’m gonna tell you what this is about.
The video claim to teach you how not to make the terrible mistakes made by Marina. So, it ranges from grammar to pronunciation, idioms, and different phrases or expressions, but with no real defining theme or topic, except for mistakes Marina makes. Now, any beginner teacher would tell you that a collection of random mistakes or random lessons without a particular theme, just like how it’s presented in this video, is likely to create overwhelm because it doesn’t offer real practical tools to remember, categorize, and use them.
So ultimately, really, such videos create more confusion than clarity. And honestly, there are many ways to teach English, including these topics that are criticized in the video. My question is, is de-legitimizing another creator really the best way and most effective way to do that? Claiming them to be a fraud despite the value that they’ve provided for their audience, whether you like it or not? Is that what’s going to create value for your audience? Or is it just an attempt to ride on the success of another creator?
Getting views using negative messaging. Because that is the problem with YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and other content platforms, which often promote quantity and engagement over quality. And negativity attracts views, and it makes some content creators care more about their views than their viewers. And you know what, for those of you who might argue that they really do care about correct English, let’s look at the tags below the video: #viral, #viral_video, #viralvideo, #viralstatus, #viralvideos, #marina mogilko, #linguatrip, #linguatriptv, #linguamarina, #МаринаМогилко, #Могилко. Hmm… I wonder why they haven’t used #CorrectEnglish or #EnglishGrammar in their tags, if that was indeed their motivation.
So now you may say, “But Hadar, Marina is a teacher with a huge following. She has a responsibility, right? She’s teaching English incorrectly. Oh, the shame…” Yeah. Well, the thing is, many of the examples that were given in those videos were taken from her vlogs, where she’s casually speaking or while explaining something. And honestly, I consider most of them as slips of the tongue or careless speaking. And I can attest as a non-native speaker of English that that’s what happens when you speak fast and fluently in a second language. How much do you know about that, Kevin – creating consistent content and speaking freely in a second language?
And honestly, you know, you focusing on those mistakes most people don’t even notice, you are absolutely disregarding her proficiency, confidence, flow, and fluency, and positive impact, which is so incredibly hard to achieve and do. And by that, sending a message to your viewers that even if you sounded like her, it is still never going to be good enough.
And, listen while I’m not saying that intentionally teaching English that is perceived as incorrect is a great thing, I do believe the creators of ‘English with Everyone’ have taken the mission of caring for the purity of English a bit too far. And by doing that, they’re causing more harm than good. And by the way, am I the only one who is bothered by the fact that a white male native speaker is telling a successful non-native English-speaking woman to, basically, keep her head down, be quiet, and stop showing up because she doesn’t sound like… well… him?
But here’s my biggest problem with this video. It’s the message of what English mistakes mean, that you are sending to your audience. When you publicly shame other creators, who are non-native speakers, for their mistakes, you are basically validating your audience’s biggest fears, proving that their mistakes will cost them their dignity.
Because one of the reasons why people are so afraid to speak and they’re so terrified of showing up in English – and that obviously affects their ability to build their fluency and their confidence – IS the fear of making mistakes. But it’s not the mistakes that they’re terrified of, it’s people’s reaction to their mistakes. It’s the fear of experiencing exactly what you and everyone else in the comments mocking Marina, are doing to Marina.
So now, with the attempt of helping your audience learn correct English, what you’re actually doing is sending the following messages: Mistakes are bad. People will make fun of you if you make mistakes. Native speakers don’t like it when you make mistakes. You’re not worthy of success if your English is not perfect. There is only one way to speak English – like us – and there is no variety whatsoever. If you make mistakes in English, you shouldn’t dare to do something publicly. You should definitely not teach on YouTube if you make mistakes or if your pronunciation is not 100% native.
So now, just imagine someone watching this video, thinking, “If someone like Marina, who’s a lot more fluent than me, is making so many mistakes and being criticized for them publicly, what does that mean about my English?”
Do you really think your videos or these types of videos would drive them to be courageous, speak up and take a chance? Would it help them actually use what they learn with you? Or would it just contribute to the illusion of learning, teaching them something they won’t have the courage or opportunity to use?
Or you know what? Think of a non-native English-speaking teacher watching this video, hoping to start a YouTube channel in English. A teacher who is already battling discrimination and bias and imposter syndrome due to the obvious preference for native-speaking teachers in language institutions, schools, and on YouTube. Does this video send a message that everyone has a place on YouTube, non-native speakers included? Even if they don’t have a native-speaking counterpart on the screen? Or does it say, “Back off, unless your English is perfect”?
And on a personal note, as a non-native speaker myself, whose English is far from perfect… I mean, seriously, I can go through my videos and ask myself questions like, “Did I really pronounce an S here?” Or, “Where did that article go?” Because that’s what happens when you speak fast and the energy of speaking is a little stronger than your ability to articulate it.
So, when I was thinking of making this video, I thought, what if the grammar police decides to come after me next? Now, of course, I didn’t let that thought stop me, but if this happened 5 years ago when I was first starting out, not only I’d never dare to say anything against this, right, but I’d also be terrified of posting anything that’s less than perfect. It would really inhibit my ability to share and post and be prolific. That would’ve necessarily meant not publishing content as much as I did, which would’ve led to me not being here and where I am today – having a life I love, a community I adore, and a business that changes lives. If I let perfection stop me, all of this would not have been possible.
I wanna say something to all of you who really enjoyed Marina’s public humiliation and commented about her English and actually how much she’s not bringing value, and all of that, not seeing that there is something so fundamentally wrong with this video. I invite you to be more mindful. Because what goes around comes around. Judgment towards others is often really a projection of the judgment that we have towards ourselves.
And maybe the next time you’ll need to speak English in public, you might remember this experience, and you’re not gonna wanna be Marina and you’ll avoid speaking out of fear of being ridiculed. And that, my friend, will cost you your fluency, will cost you opportunities, and living the life that you want. So, instead of bringing hate and shame to such situations, bring compassion and grace to those who are less than perfect. Focus on what matters, and believe that this is what you deserve as well when you fall short.
You know, it’s funny because on the English for Everyone Instagram account, it says: “We focus on American pronunciation and teach English just like you hear in real life.” And the truth is, this IS what English sounds like in real life. It is spoken with different sounds and different syntax. And yes, sometimes not according to grammar books, but it is spoken nonetheless.
To conclude, please don’t let videos like these deter you from speaking and showing up with your mistakes. Keep going, your voice matters. The only way to make an impact in this world is by doing everything you can to express yourself, even when it’s hard.
Be mindful of how you respond to mistakes around you, to your mistakes, and manage your judgment towards others and towards yourself. And if you encounter an account that makes you feel not good enough, unfollow it. And call out bad behaviors. Let’s make this space safer and better for everyone. Call out native speakerism and discrimination, and do things that make you feel empowered and motivated.
And as to you, Kevin and Lisa, you can do better. I recommend that you take down those videos and keep using your platform to do good in this world. Promote positivity over negativity, communication over perfection, community over competition.
All right, thanks everyone for watching this episode. I would love to hear what you think. So please join the conversation in the comments below. You can also send me a private message on Instagram. I’m at @hadar.accentsway. I am here to listen.
Take care, everyone. And I’ll see you next week in the next video. Bye.
More episodes on this topic: