2.2.1 Native speaker Variation

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Concept

Native-speaker English varies massively

In second language acquisition and teaching, native-speaker English tends to be viewed as a single monolithic system, a product that can be packaged quite straightforwardly for teaching and testing. And yet the diversity of native speaker Englishes is a constant source of fascination, celebration, anxiety and panic within the ‘Anglophone’ countries (where English is the principal first language). In fact, not many native speakers speak ‘Standard English’, even in England. Trudgill (2000) estimates that “probably no more than 12–15 per cent of the population of England are native speakers of Standard English”.

The variation in native-speaker Englishes depends on a whole host of interacting factors such as:

    ● region
    ● social class
    ● gender
    ● age
    ● ethnic origin
    ● occupation
    ● sexuality
    ● social context
    ● multilingualism
    ● education
    ● social status

For examples of diversity within NS English in the UK, visit the British Library's Sounds Familiar website.