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Professional identity and the 'native speaker': An investigation of essentializing discourses in TESOL Open Access


Other title
Native speaker
professional identity
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Breckenridge, Yvonne Marie
Supervisor and department
Dunn, William (Secondary Education)
Examining committee member and department
Johnston, Ingrid (Secondary Education)
Hasebe-Ludt, Erika (University of Lethbridge)
Wiltse, Lynne (Elementary Education)
Pimm, David (Secondary Education)
Department of Secondary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This study explores the ways that native speakers are represented in different discourses. It combines the personal with the empirical by starting with narratives of professional development, followed by a corpus analysis of how native speakers are defined, and ending with a critical discourse analysis of the roles allocated to native speakers in academic discourse. First, the use of narrative inquiry speaks to the lived experience of three native English speaking language teachers as they develop their professional identity and seek professional development. Their narratives uncover the tensions between their personal goals and external perceptions. In order to situate these narratives in the field, a corpus analysis identifies the difference between how native speakers are defined in general discourse and within academic literature. These different definitions demonstrate distinct patterns of usage that differentiate the concept of the native speaker, the native speaker of English, and the native speaker of English as a language teacher. Finally, a critical discourse analysis illuminates the dominant representations of native speakers in academic literature. An interpretation of six academic articles, drawing on van Leeuwen’s network of role allocation, highlights: 1) how native speakers are differentiated from non-native speakers; 2) how native speaking language teachers are objectified or excluded from the discourse. The analysis reveals how representations of native speakers influence the participation of native English speaking language teachers in the field of TESOL. The implications indicate that the current representations of native speakers detract from professional development by perpetuating static identities rather than encouraging professional development.
License granted by Yvonne Breckenridge ( on 2010-04-14T22:18:18Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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File title: Chapter 2: Who is the native speaker?
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