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Going beyond the Native Speaker in Language Teaching

Vivian Cook
TESOL Quarterly
Vol. 33, No. 2 (Summer, 1999), pp. 185-209
DOI: 10.2307/3587717
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3587717
Page Count: 25
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Going beyond the Native Speaker in Language Teaching
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Abstract

This article argues that language teaching would benefit by paying attention to the L2 user rather than concentrating primarily on the native speaker. It suggests ways in which language teaching can apply an L2 user model and exploit the students' L1. Because L2 users differ from monolingual native speakers in their knowledge of their L2s and L1s and in some of their cognitive processes, they should be considered as speakers in their own right, not as approximations to monolingual native speakers. In the classroom, teachers can recognise this status by incorporating goals based on L2 users in the outside world, bringing L2 user situations and roles into the classroom, deliberately using the students' L1 in teaching activities, and looking to descriptions of L2 users or L2 learners rather than descriptions of native speakers as a source of information. The main benefits of recognising that L2 users are speakers in the own right, however, will come from students' and teachers' having a positive image of L2 users rather than seeing them as failed native speakers.

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