Beyond ‘(non) native-speakerism’: Being or becoming a native-speaker teacher of English

Leonard, Josephine orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3533-1227 (2018) Beyond ‘(non) native-speakerism’: Being or becoming a native-speaker teacher of English. Applied Linguistics Review, 10 (4). pp. 677-703.

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The labelling of teachers of English as either ‘native’ or ‘non-native’ speakers in the field of English Language Teaching continues to promote ideals of ‘native-speakers’ that impact negatively on the teaching lives of those teachers using English as another language. In this paper, I explore constructs of ‘native-speakerism’ (Holliday, Adrian. 2015. Native-speakerism: Taking the Concept Forward and Achieving Cultural Belief. In Anne Swan, Pamela Aboshiha & Adrian. Hollliday (eds.), Encountering Native-speakerism: Global perspectives, 11–25. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan) by examining them as networks or assemblages formed through interactions of people, technologies, discourses and other material objects integral to teaching and learning environments. Drawing on ‘Actor-network theory’, I analyse unique influences of ‘native’ and ‘non-native’ networks as experienced by individual teachers of English from different contexts. The data collected in this qualitative study shows how ‘native-speaker’ networks form and exert power to reinforce the ideal of ‘native-speaker’ teachers, and restrict the agency of those who are classed as ‘non-native’. By unravelling these networks, I challenge the notions on which they are constructed, and show how the categorising of teachers in this way undermines the legitimacy of those classed as ‘non-native’, and limits their professional development. I therefore argue that moving beyond these labels is an essential step for English Language Teaching to move forward as a profession.

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