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Deidealization of the native speaker II: unique multilingual perspective

Unique Multilingual Perspective

Unique Multilingual Perspective

Have you ever wished you achieved a “native sound” in the foreign language you are studying?

I guess there are people with an innate talent for learning languages and they get to sound as any other local speaker, maybe with an alien pronunciation or word here and there, but still good enough to make you forget you are actually talking to a foreigner. I’ve had that experience talking in Spanish with an Italian friend, who has even managed to internalize jargon and regional accents.

However, if you are not among those privileged learners who are able to emulate the “idealized native speaker”, never worry. You are simply attaching relevance to your own “multilingual perspective” on the foreign language you are learning. At least, some scholars say so ;-).

Moreover, whereas students can become competent in a new language, they can never become native speakers of it. Why should they disregard their unique multilingual perspective on the foreign language and on its literature and culture to emulate the idealized monolingual speaker? Such a question goes against the grain of received knowledge in foreign language study, because language has traditionally been seen as a standardized system, not as a social and cultural practice. Viewing language as a practice may lead to a rethinking of the subject position of foreign language learners and foreign readers of national literatures –in particular, to a discovery of how learners construct for themselves a linguistic and social identity that enables them to resolve the anomalies and contradictions they are likely to encounter when attempting to adopt someone else’s language.”

If you wish so, you can read the full paper by downloading the PDF from the Educational Resources Information Centre.

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