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

Josie Leonard
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  • School of Language and Global Studies, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancashire PR1 2HE, UK
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Published Online: 2018-04-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2017-0033


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.

Keywords: Actor-Network Theory; non-native speaker teachers; teacher beliefs


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Published Online: 2018-04-14

Citation Information: Applied Linguistics Review, ISSN (Online) 1868-6311, ISSN (Print) 1868-6303, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2017-0033.

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