The ‘native speaker’ frame: issues in theprofessional culture of a Japanese tertiary EFLprogram

PhD Thesis

Lowe, R. 2017. The ‘native speaker’ frame: issues in theprofessional culture of a Japanese tertiary EFLprogram. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Arts and Humanities
AuthorsLowe, R.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification namePhD

This thesis provides an ethnographic investigation into the ways in which the ideology of native-speakerism operated unrecognized under the surface of a Japanese university EFL program. While the program appeared to be free of explicit expressions of native-speakerism, such as discrimination against teachers, the study found that the claims which were used to justify the practices of the program were underlain by implicitly native-speakerist assumptions based on the stereotyping and Othering of Japanese students and the Japanese education system. The study develops the concept of “the ‘native speaker’ frame” as a way of explaining how, even in cases where native-speakerist ideology appears to be absent, the dominant framing of a program may still be influenced by, and in turn may serve to propagate, native-speakerist ideology.

The study further shows how the program utilized a particularly strict teaching methodology, which, along with a specific discourse of ‘professionalism’ and a covert program of reinforcement,
resulted in the instructors on the program aligning their own psychological frames almost completely with the program.

Finally, it highlights how instructors were able to enact ‘frame transformations’ through acts of cultural resistance which led, in some cases, to a challenging of the ‘native speaker’ framing of the program and changes in the practices of the program itself.

This study provides a new perspective on debates around native-speakerism, which have recently tended to focus on explicitly discriminatory beliefs and actions. In contrast, this study shows how the ideology of native-speakerism can exist undetected and unrecognized in the framing and structures of ELT programs and professional practice, and suggests that ‘native speaker’ framing may lie at the heart of much, if not all, of the English language teaching profession.

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Publication process dates
Deposited07 Nov 2017
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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