Dr. Junko Mori, Professor of Japanese language and linguistics at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison, will present her lecture, "On Native-Speaker-Hood, Translingual Competence, and Asian Language Education", on Tuesday, May 9th, 2017 at 6:30 p.m.
Earlier this semester, a feature editor of a student newspaper asked me these questions: “Does your department aim to recruit native speakers for language teaching positions? Why or why not? How do non-native speakers compare with native speakers in terms of teaching quality, student preference, and overall performance?” Interesting questions from an international student from China studying Italian, who had just returned to the U.S. from a semester-long study abroad in Bologna. Through her experience of studying English in China, and Italian in the U.S. and Italy, as well as interacting with American students of Asian languages, she has become curious about how native-speaker status is perceived by foreign language programs, students, and instructors themselves.
This anecdote is an example of how increased global mobility has changed the contexts of language use and education. The student’s questions concern an issue that has drawn applied linguists’ attention for some time. On the one hand, the changing contexts have prompted the reconsideration of the models of language education based on imagined and idealized norms of monolingual native speakers. On the other hand, the “symbolic authority” of native speakers, to borrow Claire Kramsch’s expression, or their presumed “authentic linguistic skills and insider’s cultural knowledge,” has continued to be valued in the language education market.
This talk explores these questions by sharing personal reflections as a native speaker of Japanese who teaches and researches Japanese language and second language acquisition; it considers how the notion of “translingual competence” (MLA 2007; Canagarajah 2013) can be embraced in Asian language education.