Linguistic Privilege

As we teach English Language learners, I think it is important to consider the privileges that native English speakers often have.  I believe that unseen linguistic and cultural privileges are tucked away deep in the recesses of native standard English speakers’ consciousnesses.  For example, utilizing McIntosh’s (1988) framework, some of these privileges are:


I do not feel the need to make my name more like ‘everyone else’s’, for example, anglicizing Beatriz to Betty or Estalex to Stanley.
I can go to my child’s school and be clearly understood regarding the needs of my child.
I can speak my native language and interact using my native culture at school and at work without being considered suspicious or secretive.
I can easily take classes in my native language and culture while I learn a second language and culture.
I can learn my first language/culture first and my second language/culture second etc.
I can go to a job interview and not worry that my accent will work against my being hired.
I do not feel the need to eliminate my accent.
My friends and family are in awe of my bilingualism and/or biculturalism.
Most of the time, I feel that I understand what my teacher says and does.
Learning a second language and culture will be an asset to my identity and economic future.
When I take a standardized test, I can take it in my stronger language and feel confident that it represents what I know.


Conversely, standard English language learners do not always have these privileges in school. 


Tricia Gallagher-Geurtsen
Tricia Gallagher-Geurtsen

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