Regardless of where you’re from, English is unavoidable. In essence, it’s become the universal language we all turn to when traveling, doing business, and communicating with non-native English speaking people. Every year, thousands of students head to English-based universities to improve their language skills. And this is welcomed and encouraged by universities around the world; learning English is seen as highly admirable and beneficial.
By this, one would assume that discrimination against non-native speakers would be non-existant. However, though it may surprise you, discrimination against non-native English speakers at University is a common occurrence. Here are four reasons why discrimination still exists against non-English Speakers.
The separation between native and non-native English speakers
We label and separate to compartmentalize information; this is how the human brain breaks down new information. However, labeling can create negative assumptions about people, places, or things. By separating people into “native” and “non-native” English speakers, the positive connotation is attached to the latter. The phrase “native English speaker” shows articulation, the fluent ability to communicate, and understanding. But the phrase “non-native speaker” gives the perception of someone who’s less proficient in the English language.
Continuation of stereotypes
Stereotypes are everywhere, and non-native English speakers are commonly seen as slow, less articulate, and unintelligent. We can see these stereotypes rampant in our social media and popular culture propelling as they push these negative assumptions. For example, if a non-native English speaker receives 100% on an essay at school, many people assume they achieved that grade with online assignment help. Native English students start to question and ask themselves, “I didn’t get that grade, and I’m fluent in English…how could they have that mark?” In reality, non-native English speakers are equally intelligent as native speakers; however, the stereotypes label them as otherwise.
Lack of acceptance to change
When native-English speakers hear non-native speakers, they become aware of change. Firstly, most native-English speakers don’t know a second language. In the United States, around one in four adult Americans (26%) can hold a conversation in a second language, let alone take a university course in it. In the United Kingdom, 62% of people cannot speak any other languages aside from English. Not only does this bring out jealousy, but it makes people aware of change and their own inability to keep up.
Whether you like it or not, political influence is everywhere. For example, if there’s a migration issue, people are less open and accepting of non-native English speakers. Even though University is seen as a liberal and progressive space, political influence finds a way to trickle into even the most progressive minds. Through political influence, acceptance dwindles, and stereotypes of non-native English speakers are emphasized.
Discrimination exists everywhere; whether it’s at school, on the bus, or at work. However, as you can see, discrimination is socially constructed. By challenging our influences, we can reduce discrimination against non-native English speakers both in and outside of University.