The Burden of ‘Nativeness’: Four Plurilingual Student-Teachers’ Stories



Oral history interviews conducted with four student-teachers in Bilingual Education or TESOL studies are analyzed. Despite being deconstructed in sociolinguistics and related fields, the ‘native’ and ‘non-native’ dichotomy emerges not only as salient in participants’ self-perceptions of linguistic competence, but also in feelings of unpreparedness for full participation in the teaching profession. Alternative categories are explored, including ‘legitimate’, ‘resourceful’ or ‘bi/plurilingual’ speaker, which may act in juxtaposition to that of ‘native’, or offer emancipatory ways forward. In line with critical pedagogy, for such alternative categories to empower, reimagining how linguistic competence is constructed in the teaching profession - through the appropriation of tools to critically deconstruct ‘nativeness’ – must engage the entire educational community. 


Native/non-native, resourceful speakers, bi/plurilingual teachers, critical pedagogy, teacher education

Author Biographies

María Cioè-Peña, City University of New York.

María Cioè-Peña is a member of the teaching staff at the City University of New York. She has an undergraduate degree in English and a Master’s degree in teaching urban students with disabilities. She is currently pursuing her PhD in the department of Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center where she is a Presidential MAGNET Fellow. Her research focuses on bilingual children with disabilities and their ability to access multilingual learning spaces within NYC public schools. Her interest are deeply rooted in her experience as a bilingual special education teacher with a focus on language practices and disability awareness within schools and families.

Emilee Moore, University of Leeds

Emilee Moore is a postdoctoral researcher in the Beatriu de Pinós program (Generalitat de Catalunya) affiliated with the University of Leeds. She studies meaning-making practices in multilingual and multicultural educational contexts from a perspective integrating linguistic anthropology, interactional sociolinguistics, ethnomethodology and sociocultural learning theories. She was a university lecturer in Barcelona for about 5 years, where she helped develop teachers for multilingual preschools, primary and secondary schools, and for multilingual tertiary education. She was a visiting scholar at the Graduate Centre of CUNY at the time this research was conducted, funded by the Societat Econòmica Barcelonesa d’Amics del País and by Beatriu de Pinós.

Luisa Martín Rojo, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Luisa Martín Rojo is Professor of Linguistics at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid. She specializes in Sociolinguistics, and has published work on such topics such as multilingualism and multilingual education, political discourse and representations of migrants, the Latino diaspora and linguistic practices produced by the Indignados/occupied movements in public spaces. At the time of this research she was a fellow in the CUNY Advanced Collaborative Research Centre and a participant in the doctoral seminar from which this research emerged.




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