Conference Paper Discursive Representations of the Native Speaker as Qualification for Employment

Paper presented at the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) 2015 Conference, Fairmont Royal York, Toronto, Canada.
Despite nation-state foundations (Bonfiglio, 2010; Hackert, 2009, 2012; Hutton, 1999) and a lack of empirical evidence within contemporary academic literature (Houghton & Rivers, 2013; Musha-Doerr, 2009), the use of the term “native speaker” remains commonplace within Japanese higher education (Rivers, 2013; Rivers & Ross, 2013; Rivers, 2015). However, within recruitment discourse the term is almost never explicitly defined and therefore tends to elude scientific scrutiny and research-based challenge. This roundtable presentation shares new data revealing the manner in which Japanese institutions of higher education, when directly questioned, discursively define, explain and rationalize their continued use of the term “native speaker” as a qualification for employment. A total of 196 employment advertisements collected over a 15-month period from the government subsidized Japan Research Career Information Network (JREC-IN) website were analyzed. Institutions who referenced the term “native speaker” were contacted and asked how the term was officially defined as a qualification for employment. The institutions were also asked how potential applicants were assessed for their “native speaker”status.

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