What native speaker means …

What native speaker means …

By Herri Mulyono

A morning Jakarta newspaper couple days ago reported that an American Taxi driver had been invited to be a native English teacher in a well established English course. It might be funny thing or even weird that people nowadays have been misled by words of “Native Speaker”, that in some occasions, many English courses use this “Native Speaker” purposefully to raise their status, credibility, and of course promote their institution rather to provide a good model of English. In this kind of situation, I prefer to call it as an abuse of what is meant by “Native Speaker” and in further discussion, I would raise this issue in perspective of English speaking model.

All of us do believe that it is important to provide good model for our language learners particularly in relation with model of oral English and many of us propose native speakers of English for such intention. Native speaker is limitedly used to recall a person who is born or a local inhabitant where English is used as daily mean of communication or as first language. However, we come across to two critical questions: “Whom are we going to use as model?” and, “Do those Englishmen have good English?” If you are convinced that all Englishmen have good English, why then Daniel Jones, father of English pronunciation, reported that Cockney fashion of English is difficult to understand for other Englishmen while other Scotsman or American considers it as “bad.”

English now is international language that people who speak it come from many countries with different dialect, accent, and social background as well. When the use of English is seen from communication perspective, then, it emphasizes to the transference of ideas, thoughts or information, whether the receiver understands of what is being talked by the speaker or not. In this circumstance, if the speaker is able to send the information using English and that information is appropriately understood by the receiver, in that case there is no doubt that English spoken by the speaker is absolutely good and do otherwise.

Daniel Jones introduces the term “accepted pronunciation” or some of us are informed by what is called as “receptive pronunciation” or RP. However, he refuses if then RP is thought to be absolute uniform of English due to number variations of English is widely spoken. In the discussion of good speech and bad speech, Jones points two things affecting on good speech: intelligible and pleasing. What is meant by intelligible is that if one’s English is clearly understood by his communication partner, then his English is considered good. In addition, our dialect and accent in uttering English have also to be pleasing the listener, that the listener does not think it as an odd accent or later he may feel insulted. From these two points, I put the meaning of Native speaker will be rather than define it as “a person who is born or a local inhabitant where English is used as daily mean of communication or as first language.”

When you use my argument on what native speaker likely is, you have to convince yourself that native speaker would be strongly possible for those whose English utterance is clearly intelligible and pleasing. Regarding to the above conditions, all English teachers from Sumatra, Java, Jakarta, Kalimantan and all places in Indonesia could be native speaker of English by then you’re not so bothered in finding good model of English for your students. Even you could be so. When your students don’t feel burdened to understand your spoken English and they are likely to love it, at that moment I will say you have put yourself as a good English model for your students and you have complete your job outstandingly.

Wish you all to be Good Native English Speaker for your students …

For more discussion, please find my nick at Facebook: Myenglish Uhamka

2 thoughts on “What native speaker means …

  1. Salam…
    I’ve known u first from h2te site
    It’s a great news from me finding your blog
    Wish I could visit u often and share knowledge through your blog.
    My opinion…
    A non-native English speakers can not be a native English speakers but they could be a good English Speaker.
    I agree with u concerning on the phenomenon of using Native in English Teaching Classroom nowadays has been used as a promotion.

    • Your comment might be common when you define “native speaker” as previously i mentioned at beginning of discussion. Yet, when you take my two criteria of native speaker, then, all people may have same chances to be native speaker even when they are born out of European or other english speaking countries.

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