Abstract Based on the research literature of the “native/non-native” distinction and on Bourdieu’s notion of field and social action, this paper proposes to use the specific case of foreign language (FL) teaching in the French educational system to conceptualize the FL teaching field as a highly contested space where unequal actors vie for symbolic power and influence. The FL teaching field is organised into two large spaces: one representing state school educational systems, the other representing private language schools. Symbolic power and teaching legitimacies have been jointly constructed giving more power and legitimacy to non-native teachers in state school settings, and more power and legitimacy to native teachers in private language schools. Universities occupy a middle position between the educational settings of the national education systems and the private settings of language schools: the teaching of language to future specialists is still in the hands of non-native speaker teachers whereas the teaching of language to non-language specialists seems more open to native speaker teachers. The “native/non-native” opposition that linguists thought to be relevant linguistically might no longer be a linguistic concept ( Paikeday 1985 ; Davies 1991 ; Rampton 1990 ; Cook 1999 ; Muni Toke 2013 ), but, as a social construct, this opposition is still very much alive. It serves to design language policies within which actors-teachers of foreign and second languages confront one another. Due to the global deregulation of educational settings, language actors-teachers are therefore put into a highly competitive market: both native and non-native language teachers struggle to be recognized, and essentialist or even racist attitudes have developed into what Holliday (2006) calls “nativespeakerism”. Understanding the structure of the language teaching field worldwide makes it possible to clarify the power struggle and symbolic violence within the field, whose goals and values are paradoxically aimed at mutual understanding through language teaching and cultural mediation – and even more so in the age of multilingualism.
Applied Linguistics Review – de Gruyter
Published: Nov 1, 2016