On nativespeakerism

Native-speakerism is a powerful ideology machine that mass-produces unfairness, contempt, inferiority, and frustration. It ruthlessly divides native and nonnative speakers, veils the hard fact that we are all legitimate users of a certain language, and naturalizes sociocultural, economic biases against additional language learners.

Through this seldom-challenged mechanism, it effectively molds discrimination out of differences, mimics racism in placing the categorical value on an innate capacity, and colludes with the ‘sacred’ meritocracy by establishing native speaker-favored standards, qualifications, and market environments. Where native-speakerism prevails, foreign language learning functions as a viable tool for the old ruling strategy: divide and conquer.

So I remind myself that I do not need to say, “I perfectly understand what you mean by that. However, it is wrong: native speakers would not speak like that.” No, they’re not wrong. They are communicating in a fully legitimate way. Ultimately, the right to judging right and wrong lies in the interlocutors in situ, not in an idealized group of native speakers. However the myth of the all-mighty native speaker persists, mainly due to its role in perpetuating the sense of deficiency and illegitimacy on the part of language learners and ever invigorating the market value of native speakers.


Leave a Reply