IATEFL 2016 Plenary Day 2 (Silvana Richardson)

  • MSL

As an English teacher who is a non-native speaker of English, I want to "promote" Silvana Richardsons talk! Here is a summary of the presentation by the blogger Lizzie Pinard:

The one minute history of Native Speakerism starring the Monolingual Bias.

She takes us  back 100 years to The Direct Method: thou shalt not use your own language in class. This and subsequent methods created a monolingual bias which gave a biased view of the native speaker. The common goal was to achieve native-like competence. Meaning 3 things: That NS is the best model, that the way that the NS acquires L1 is the best way to acquire a foreign language and that the NS makes the best teacher. This creates a deficit view of the learner’s own language – it becomes a source of interference and an obstacle, and a deficit view of the NNS as defective, a failed monolingual of English. The ideal native speaker according to Kramsch is monolingual, monocultural, speaks only a standard variety of English, and is equally competent in oracy and literacy skills. This concept has been critiqued as a figment of linguists’ imagination (Palkeday 1985). It is, however, a very resilient myth. Take for example the European Profiling Grid which is used in recruitment of teachers. The ultimate goal is “Has native speaker like competence in the target language”.

How does this notion impact on identity, as an NS or an NNS?

If you have the native factor, you can safely assume that: The native speaker is the best model, the ideal teacher. I am an NS. Therefore I am the ideal model and ideal teacher.

If you are a non-native speaker, it is the reverse. I am not the ideal model. I am not the ideal teacher.

Very problematic and toxic logic. Kamhi-Stein (2005) criticises this ‘native speaker fallacy’. It makes assumptions that NS have particular features but actually they can all be acquired through training. Silvana then shows us a linkedin profile and what it does! It devalues all of us and professionalism.


The logic also creates a competence dichotomy. A very unhelpful separation into camps. An us versus them. It’s very damaging to all of us...

Read the rest by clicking on the link below:


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