Accepting and Circumventing Native Speaker Essentialism

  • Robert Weekly
Part of the Educational Linguistics book series (EDUL, volume 35)


This chapter reports on a qualitative study of multilingual South-Asian English language teachers working in an ESOL department in Leicester. Through narrative interviews and focus groups the study explored how the participants experience linguicism, which positions them as inauthentic native English speakers (NES) or non-native English speakers (NNES). Several of the participants are also complicit in this, with many resisting a NES label or feeling some ambiguity with their native speaker status. One of the reasons for this, is that the NES/NNES dichotomy is embedded in the ideology of English language teaching and the ideological values of society. NES is semantically linked with other terminology, such as British English, RP, ‘whiteness’, Standard English, correct English and good English. In attempting to overcome prejudice, rather than identifying themselves as NES, the participants emphasised their multilingualism and presented stories of teaching practices. Therefore, while tending to accept essentialised identity construction by others, the participants utilized other aspects of their identity to overcome prejudice in the workplace.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Weekly
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for English Language EducationUniversity of Nottingham NingboNingboChina

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