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The Avarage Non-native Speaker

Most non-native speakers can be split into two categories, depending on what their goals are. The first group consists of people for whom English is a tool for achieving personal and professional goals, while the second group consists of people for whom knowing English is absolutely vital (such as immigrants or those for whom English is important in their profession).

For those non-natives who intend to integrate into an English-speaking community, a deficient knowledge of the language can be an annoyance. As a rule, they’re inferior in every aspect of language performance to native speakers, which can exacerbate their insecurities. But it also has to be stressed that the desire to attain a pseudo-native proficiency of the language is not the same as wanting to escape one’s L1 identity. Most immigrants keep a distance between themselves and the community where they reside, using English as a surrogate language.

Ultimately, it’s up to individuals themselves to decide which group (native, non-native, pseudo-native) they belong to. Surprisingly many fluent speakers choose not to identify themselves as native speakers, citing a lingering lack of comfort speaking in English.

Source: Peter Medgyes, “The ‘average’ non-native speaker”, The Non-Native Teacher


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