Despite what has been said about the 'native speaker' in the previous section, it seems that the fact that 'native-like' proficiency is the ultimate and the highest goal for any language learner has become an article of ELT faith. It is not uncommon then for language levels on different scales to be pegged to the 'native speaker'. For example, the CEFR B2 level descriptor states that the learner "can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party".
Read the quotes below. What views on the 'native speaker' and their role as a proficiency benchmark? Which do you agree with most?
You're now going to read an article from IH Journal entitled ELT and the Native Speaker Ideal: Some Food For Thought by Christina Smolder, which is available for free on-line here. She argues that "the blind promotion of the native English speaker ideal can be impractical, inappropriate and unfair in most EIL teaching contexts" [emphasis mine].
Which arguments do you think she uses to support each of her points? Before you read the article, make a list of possible arguments and examples to support Christina's thesis that maintaining the 'native speaker' as the model and goal for all learners is:
Then read the article and compare the arguments you listed with those used by Christina.
The article you've just read raises some very important questions for teaching and learning of English. For example, if the 'native speaker' model is not an appropriate one any longer, which English should we teach? And who gets to decide? We'll address these questions in more detail in the following lecture, but as a prelude, we'll watch a short interview with David Crystal where he talks about the spread of English worldwide. While watching, try to make notes on the following questions: