Call for Papers: 49th Annual Northeastern Modern Language Association (NeMLA) Conference

April 12-15, 2018, Pittsburgh, PA

Session Title: "Interrogating the Native Speaker Ideal in Second Language Curricula"

Session Chairs: Dr. Karin Maxey (Vassar College) & Dr. Amanda Randall (St. Olaf College)

Description: Since the 1990s, foreign language instructors and researchers have called for the subversion of the nativespeaker construct. Perhaps the most well-known of these calls comes from Claire Kramsch (1997), who suggests that the term "native speaker" itself is ill-defined, and that non-native speakers have valuable perspectives on a language and culture as non-members of a group. Similarly, Cem Alptekin criticizes the utopian, monolithic idea of native speakership as a linguistic myth (2002, see also Singh 1998, Hensel 2000, Liddicoat, 2016).

Yet, despite declarations from others that “the native speaker is dead” (Paikeday, 1985) this construct remains for language teachers and students the ideal example of proper language usage. Commercial curriculum packages routinely follow this model: whether the discourse is didactically contrived or extemporaneous, ethnically-marked native speakers demonstrate the standard language in audio and video recordings for students to emulate. Even as the broadening cultural diversity of the German-speaking world, for example, are gaining recognition in language curricula and instruction--albeit often as a side-issue or separate unit, not fully integrated as a part of mainstream culture--the regionally “unmarked” native German speakerpersists as the spoken and written linguistic and cultural ideal.

Studies have shown that second language learners, even language majors, rarely reach a state of nativeness, whether in speaking (Glisan et al. 2013) or reading and listening (Tschirner 2016). Scholars thus continue to wonder whether we are setting impossible goals for students by striving for a particular native speaker ideal (Cook 2007, Medgyes 1992). In this session, we ask: What are the social and ethical implications of the “native speaker” construct, when the most prevalent model voices heard in instruction reflect “accent free”--in the linguistic and the cultural sense--regions or cultural backgrounds? What role should awareness-raising of language ideologies play in the foreign language classroom?

We invite papers that consider these and other critical questions:

Submit your 300-word abstract by September 30, 2017 at

For questions, contact Dr. Karin Maxey ([log in to unmask]) and Dr. Amanda Randall ([log in to unmask]).

******************* The German Studies Call for Papers List Editor: Sean Franzel Assistant Editor: Olaf Schmidt Sponsored by the University of Missouri Info available at: