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Redressing the balance in the native speaker debate: Assessment standards, standard language, and exposing double standards

Isaacs, T; Rose, H; (2022) Redressing the balance in the native speaker debate: Assessment standards, standard language, and exposing double standards. TESOL Quarterly 10.1002/tesq.3041. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

In his philosophical novel, Thus spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche (1883‒85), famously wrote, ‘God is dead,’ signifying that God is no longer credible as an absolute moral compass. Over a century later, Paikeday (1985), proclaimed that The native speaker is dead! in his book title, implying that the native speaker as the arbiter of what is correct in a language is obsolete. This paper discusses this complex, contentious ideological issue from language assessment and sociolinguistic standpoints against the backdrop of global Englishes. After highlighting difficulties identifying standard language norms, we discuss the practical need of having some assessment standard against which to evaluate language performance. Proposals as to what that standard should be are then critiqued in view of ways that second language proficiency has been operationalized in assessment systems. Next, we argue against vilifying those who use the term ‘native speaker’ and consider terminological problems introduced by some reconceptualizing efforts. We argue that we have a long way to go as a field before reaching a truly post-native speaker era, which would seem to be a reasonable aspiration for most, but not necessarily all contexts, and propose recommendations for addressing pressing research problems. This includes standardizing terminology to incorporate semantically transparent terms, exploring assessment alternatives that focus more on language use than standard language adherence, improving scoring systems to remove nativeness from the equation when inappropriate, and acknowledging a place for accuracy-focused research within a broad tent of applied linguistics research traditions.

Type: Article
Title: Redressing the balance in the native speaker debate: Assessment standards, standard language, and exposing double standards
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/tesq.3041
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.3041
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 The Authors. TESOL Quarterly published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of TESOL International Association. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10127000
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