The 'native speaker' spin: the construction of the English teacher at a language department at a university in central Mexico

Mora Pablo, I. (2011) The 'native speaker' spin: the construction of the English teacher at a language department at a university in central Mexico. Ph.D. thesis, University of Kent.


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This is a study of how teachers, students and administrators in a particular university's language department in Guanajuato, Mexico, construct the English teachers' professional image. The experiences of ten teachers, fourteen students, and two administrators at the Language Department of the University of Guanajuato in Mexico are explored through data obtained from conversations, narratives, critical incidents, e-mail correspondence and field-notes.

This thesis began as an investigation of the construction of the 'native/non-native' debate. However, it arrived at a final point which is concerned about the ways in which individual perceptions are constructed and affected through historical or social pressures. From the data collected key areas emerged, such as: identity, labelling and the socio-political relationship between Mexico and the United States and its consequences. The data shows the polarization that exists between 'native speakers' and 'non-native speakers' themselves concerning aspects such as birthplace, ethnicity and nationality. In order to make sense of this data, I decided to employ the concept of spin to explain how images of the English teacher and speaker are constructed and maintained (or rejected) by participants. This is used as a lens to understand the evolution of the creation of the 'native speaker' image and labels. This helps understand how the 'native speaker' image came to play such a critical —and sometimes apparently harmful— role in the construction of the Other and the Self. Specifically, the 'native speaker' spin was not a point of investigation, but emerged as a significant tool for the discussion of the data as the analysis progressed.

Overall this study seems to set a precedent that there is no clear-cut division between 'native' and 'non-native speakers'. Rising awareness of how complex labels operate through discourses, institutions and hiring policies may help to bring about more recognition of commonalities of English teachers as professionals.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
Depositing User: Mr Andrew Hudson
Date Deposited: 21 Aug 2013 10:14
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2016 20:39

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00