Native-speakerism: A Thorn in the Side of ELT
Native-speakerism, as Kumaravadivelu (2016, p. 82) famously noted, is a subject where “seldom in the annals of an academic discipline have so many toiled for so long and achieved so little”. There have been several suggestions for the reverse of this trend but none of them appear to have penetrated the mainstream industry. This article aims to reflect on this phenomenon by analysing the study of attitudes towards native-speakerism among students in Portugal and the UK with a particular emphasis on attitudes towards NS and NNS accents including features such as accuracy which included an evaluation of the students’ own accents in English and their goals for learning English in terms of acquisition/non-acquisition of a particular variety of English and attitudes towards English as a lingua franca. Overall, it was found that native-speakerism is widespread amongst students learning English, which corroborates other studies on this topic. Nevertheless, students in this study appear to show an interest in learning more about English varieties and World Englishes even though they are drawn to and hold the dominant standard - UK and American varieties - as the benchmark of acceptability and aspiration. By arguing that the frequently proposed measures cannot tackle native-speakerism on a truly global scale, this paper is meant to contribute to the body of research on native-speakerism and at the same time take a critical approach towards the perspectives of eliminating native-speakerism.
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