The native-speaker debate : the case of the Afrikaans-English teacher's identity in Thailand
Van Zyl, Adriana Josina Maria
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The discourse of the Native Speaker is situated within a rapidly globalising context where superdiversity and a pluralist worldview negate the very cornerstones of the concept Native-speaker (NS). However, when pro-NS policies are explicitly implemented in an educational context to exclude and alienate groups based on nationality, questions arise. In 2012, South Africa was officially removed from the list of English Native Speaking countries as recognised by the Thai Teacher‘s Council. The effects of this demotion have ideological, theoretical, methodological and individual implications for Afrikaans-English (A-E) South African teachers who teach English in Thailand. This study will show that the gap between accepted theory (i.e. superdiverse and pluralist views) and inclusive practices where World Englishes is acknowledged, is widely paradoxical. In this paradoxical twilight and in the light of their demotion to Non-native speakers (NNS), the role of the A-E bilingual teacher in Thailand needs to be re-conceptualised. This re-conceptualisation is motivated by the unique and valuable multilingual background and abilities these teachers are imbued with. These abilities afford them the opportunity and ability to rise above the demotion and solidly contribute to the changing international English teaching industry. In this qualitative study, a mixed method (MM) approach is used to investigate the role of the A-E bilingual as a perceived NS teacher in Thailand and the effect that the demotion to NNS status might have on these teachers. The study endeavours this investigation in terms of three core concepts: the NS-debate, A-E bilingualism and teacher identity. The participants were A-E teachers of English in Thailand and members from the wider school community in Thailand (for example, fellow teachers and administrators). The main methods used included questionnaires with open- and close-ended questions, a language portrait and feedback opportunities for participants to comment on the interpretation of data. The main findings of the study resituate and redefine the A-E bilingual as a concordant bilingual within an international English teaching context where the dominance of the NS as English teacher remains prominent. It also highlights the complex relationships that concordant bilinguals have with the languages included in their repertoires. Furthermore, the findings elucidate on the contradictory nature of societal perception of the NS. From this finding it is clear that there are discrepancies in how people perceive, implement and resist the NS-concept in practice and theory. Methodologically, the usefulness of using language repertoire questionnaires and language portraits emerged as strength of the study.
- Humanities