How would you define "native speaker of english"?

This is a discussion thread · 82 replies
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
How would you define "native speaker of english"? Someone who has been speaking English since the day he was born? Or someone who come from a race which orginally speaks English?

Please correct my grammar if there is any mistake. Thanks
New Member22
2 comments An interesting question.

My first instinctive answer - anyone from an English speaking country who learns from birth from a parent - falls apart now I stop to consider. A person could be raised in a non-English speaking country by native-English speaking parents and that would, in my opinion, also make them a native speaker.

Tricky. I could say they need to learn it from birth and have native English speaking parents but on the other hand, there are plenty of second generation British people, whose parents may not actually have good English, but who themselves I would consider native speakers as they have grown up in a native English environment, and their English is perfectly 'native'.

So I guess I would say there needs to be at least one of two conditions:
To grow up exposed to the language of a native English speaking country and/or
To have native English speaking parents.

But again, on consideration there are problems with this. Someone whose parents are native speakers of a different language to the country they are growing up in, quite often are not completely fluent in their parents' original language. (Again with the example of second generation immigrants in mind).

Also, some countries are officially English speaking, but it is not the same as what I would call a native version of the language. Again, an example, I know a lot of people from Nigeria, whose official language is English and have learnt it from virtual babyhood along with an African language, and have done all their schooling in English. However, they are not native speakers and would not describe themselves as such once they have encountered actual native speakers. One said it came as a terrible shock to come to Britain and find a terrible language barrier after speaking what he thought was British English for nearly 50 years. He was unable to understand most people, and most people were unable to understand him.

So, what does everyone else think? It is just people from Britain, USA, Australia and NZ who are the native speakers or do other versions of English also count as 'native'? If I'm being really cheeky, perhaps only British people speak native English - as even the USA has left the British version behind, and it was our language originally?
So,
Veteran Member11,782
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.Retired Moderator: A moderator who has retired.
Hi!

First of all, I do agree to all you had just said. It's true.

I'm a Math/Science from Philippines and I consider English as a second language too. But in cases like our education that we are using English as a medium of instruction, how would being a Native Speaker affects teaching? I mean, like in our country, during our early stage we all know english words and in fact, we don't have our own equivalent words to most of english words we are using especially in learning ang teaching. So a teacher teaches in English and students are taught by the meaning according to the contents and explanation in the textbooks.

And there is one problem too. Most school hires native speakers not because of the language itself. Advertisement perhaps? It does not mean its a good choice. How would teaching be effective when a Native speaker speaks with heavy accent or not, and the students do not understand at all? You can hardly explain it in some ways. I mean communication is to tell what you are trying to convey and let the listeners understand what you mean.

So, if we are talking about teaching and business at the same time, we tend forget something. Which is the the first aim? To educate people or to make busines successful? Can you do me favor and explain what I do not understand? I'll be willing to appreciate a reply.

Thank you and have a nice day!
New Member04
Difficult to say what a native speaker of English is. Which version are we talking about ? Australian, American, Indian, Canadian etc. My suggestion is that a native speaker is one who speaks it well enough and clearly so he or she is understood by as many as possible. Many so called native speakers are very difficult to understand. English has now been adopted by most of the world. Perhaps we should now talk about fluent speakers.
Regular Member664
Teachers: Users in this role are certified teachers. This may include DELTA, CELTA, TESOL, TEFL qualified professionals. Email a scan of your qualification to an admin, if you wish to be considered.
What about a second generation Asian born in UK or US? Let's say their parents speak only English to them at home, while they are at school they speak English as well. Are they considered native speakers of English?

In another case, if a person was born in a country whose official language is English, for example Singapore. Both of his parents only speak English to him at home, and he uses English in school as well, is he considered a native speaker of English?

If an Asian living in Asia learnt English from the second he was born, and he only starts learning his "mother tongue" at a later age. Now, English will be the first language he learnt, and he will be using English longer than any other languages. Under this circumtances, is he considered a native English speaker?

Let's assume that the above speakers can be well understood by British and American native speakers.
If they speak the language well and are easily understood that is all that is needed. Native speaker of what country? As I previously said English is now spoken as a first language by many.
Teachers: Users in this role are certified teachers. This may include DELTA, CELTA, TESOL, TEFL qualified professionals. Email a scan of your qualification to an admin, if you wish to be considered.
This question came to my mind because I saw some advertisment looking for English teacher in this forum. One of the requirement is that they must be a native speaker. So I start wondering how these people define native English speaker.

A very controversial example is Singapore. Singapore was a British colony. After it gained independence from Britain, it still uses English as one of the official languages. Even though I say "one of", English is basically the only functioning official language.

People in Singapore today speak only English at home, they are mostly of Chinese and Indian ethnic. The media language in the school is also English, all their textbooks, except those language books, are in English. Singaporean will need to sit GCE O-level in secondary school and GCE A-level in junior college, which are also in English.

I once read in a newspaper that western people do not consider Singaporean as a native English speaker. However, many Singaporean can only speak one fluent language which is English, if they are not considered a native English speaker, then what is their native language? Chinese or Tamil? If they can't even command Chinese or Tamil, how can they be considered a native speaker of these languages.

David, I couldn't agree more, many people today speak English as their first language. The problem is that many people today still has the perception that English belongs to white man living in UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Therefore only these people living in these countries are considered a native speaker.

By the way, is there a different between these two terms "mother tongue" and "first language"? Although it is used interchangeably, I still ponder if there is a significant different. For example, a person mother tongue can be French, but in his whole life, he uses English as his major language to communicate, so, wouldn't that make his first language English?
I have to make that decision here @ englishforums.com - it's a tough one! The truth is that it comes down to (in my humble opinion) a feeling in the text they write. When there are no clear rules, as in this case, gut feeling tends to win out!

I like clear, well written and pragmatic text - they may not punctuate perfectly and the wording may include slang. Most 'native speakers' tend to be quite liberal in their application of poetic license. Rich people don't always drive expensive cars - native speakers tend to play with their language!
Senior Member4,005
SystemAdministrator: A system administrator takes care of the inner workings of the entire system. These users have the ability to promote, ban and modify other users.
Please explain hitchhiker found it very difficult to follow your train of thought.
Teachers: Users in this role are certified teachers. This may include DELTA, CELTA, TESOL, TEFL qualified professionals. Email a scan of your qualification to an admin, if you wish to be considered.
Show more
Live chat
Registered users can join here