1st Edition

Questioning the Native Speaker Construct in Teacher Education Enabling Multilingual Identities and Decolonial Language Pedagogies

By Julie Waddington Copyright 2025
    168 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Questioning the construction of the ‘native speaker’ as an authority and ideal in language education, this book offers a critical and accessible engagement with research problematising notions of ‘nativeness’ while emphasising the interactional and ongoing nature of identity construction.

    Crossing disciplinary and geographical boundaries, this book interweaves theoretical frameworks from diverse disciplines, examining and challenging language ideologies that underpin and perpetuate systemic inequalities. The author argues that this multidisciplinary approach can help disrupt the fixed identity categories on which the native speaker construct is based, prompting a reconception of how we think about ourselves in relation to others, and in relation to our position in the world. Chapters present different teacher models as well as specific strategies and activities to stimulate debate and encourage approaches which prioritise pedagogical competence over the native speaker ideal.

    Providing an accessible overview of complex issues along with strategic action in teacher education, this book will be of interest to researchers, academics and post-graduate students in the fields of language education, applied linguistics, TESOL and teacher education. Teacher educators and language teachers should also benefit from this volume.


    Part 1. Theoretical frameworks

     1. Teacher self-efficacy, wellbeing, and other critical issues

     2. Multilingual identities

     3. From monolingual teaching ideologies to translanguaging spaces

     4. Raciolinguistic perspectives on ‘nativeness’

     5. ‘Nativelikeness’ as a motivational driver

    Part 2. Practical applications

     6. Promoting teacher self-efficacy, wellbeing, and other critical issues

     7. Identifying as multilingual

     8. Questioning monolingual teaching ideologies, enabling translanguaging spaces

     9. Exposing raciolinguistic perspectives on ‘nativeness’

    10. Reconsidering ‘nativelikeness’ as a motivational driver

     Concluding thoughts


    Julie Waddington is Serra Húnter Lecturer in Language and Literature Education at the Faculty of Education and Psychology, University of Girona, Catalonia, Spain.

    ‘Julie Waddington addresses one the most important issues in teacher education: the persistent toxic myth that those who teach their own first language are by definition superior to those who teach a language they acquired later in life. The author rejects this simplistic categorisation and belief and makes an excellent case for a smarter approach based on the fluidity of multilingual identities and inspired by decolonial language pedagogies. By bringing the debate out of the ivory tower into the field, I hope that this book can contribute to the rejection of the outdated neoracist concept of the “native speaker”.’

    Jean-Marc Dewaele, Emeritus Professor in Applied Linguistics and Multilingualism, Institute of Education, University College London, Birkbeck, University of London, UK

    ‘I am truly excited by Dr. Waddington’s engagement with critical issues such as the native speaker construct, multilingual identities, and wellbeing in teacher education. Her relentless questioning liberates us from the shackles of native-speakerism, enables multilingual teachers to achieve wellbeing, and prepares us to use translanguaging for pedagogical decolonization.’

    Xuesong (Andy) Gao, Professor of Language and Literacy Education, School of Education, University of New South Wales, Australia

    ‘Theoretically rich and grounded in empirical data, this book presents a strategic challenge to the stubbornness of the so-called ‘native speaker’ construct in teacher education. In assuming a raciolinguistic perspective and exploring practical examples from teacher education, it asks educators to interrogate – and ultimately dismantle – long-standing language ideologies and colonial logics which normalise and reproduce hierarchies of language and race.’

    Ian Cushing, Senior Lecturer in Critical Applied Linguistics, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

    ‘This powerful investigation confronts unsettling narratives and disturbing implications surrounding the idealized 'native speaker' construct. With practical proposals and strategic actions, it calls for a transformative mindset—a hopeful plea to envision a more egalitarian world for language teaching educators, practices, and cultures therein.’

    Ali Fuad Selvi, Assistant Professor of TESOL and Applied Linguistics, The University of Alabama, United States

    'What is unique about this book is Waddington´s ability to question and destabilize traditional categories in language education, and at the same time give readers a way out of dismantling it all. The questioning of the native-speaker concept lies at the center of Waddington’s inquiry, but her purpose is not simply theoretical; instead, she focuses on how it affects the well-being of teachers and students, and the practical ways in which it can be questioned and overcome. At first glance, the book appears to have two parts, one theoretical, the other a mirror image, but practical. And yet, what is valuable in this book is how practice is embedded in the theoretical uptakes. The native-speaker concept comes face-to-face with the teacher’s well-being, identity, ideologies, raciolinguistics, and even motivation. The result is a theoretically and practical honest book by which teachers develop a critical consciousness that enables them to face the contradictions in language teaching.'

    Ofelia García, Professor Emerita, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, United States