ERIC Number: ED203668
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980
The "Native Speaker" Issue: Problem or Pretext?
Problems posed by varying interpretations of the terms "native speaker" and "native language" in relation to discrimination in hiring foreign language teachers are discussed. The central question is whether there is an educational basis for giving hiring preference to a native speaker. One argument stresses that it is preferable for students to be exposed to the genuine accent of native speakers. Another argument stresses that students need professors for role models--professors who, like the student, started out without ability in their target language. The author contends that any policy of preference for native speakers is demeaning and destructive to the essence of the language teaching profession. An argument could be made for giving preference to American-born over foreign-born language instructors in that the former may have greater empathy with the problems faced by American students. However, there are subtleties of language so difficult to acquire and employ that native speakers offer undeniable advantages to the student learning their language. A self-monitoring policy of balance between foreign native and American-born faculty members in language departments should be established with the understanding that in filling a vacancy the only justified criteria are standards of excellence. (JK)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Meeting of the Modern Language Association (Houston, TX, 1980).