Native discovery

I put this question to Amy on another thread. I’d like to put it to all native English speakers here.

Let’s say that for years, based on you native intuition, you had been telling students that an certain item was not used in a certain registers/text-types/genres. What if, by searching many corpora, you found out that the item in question was actually used and very frequently in such registers/text-types/genres? What would you do? What would be your reaction?

Hi Molly,

I wonder at the point of the question. I believe ‘native intuition’ is just that and is bound to vary according to the individual. I also think that telling a student that a particular word is never used in a certain context is bound to lead to problems. If a student were to question or nowadays I should say had questioned my use of a word, my reaction would be/would have been to welcome the source of this ‘unknown’ information and consider its use/application openly.



Why is it that your posts on English Vocabulary, Grammar and Idioms have dropped off these days?

The point is based on many years of being an ESL student and ESL forumite. Over the years, I’ve heard so many natives, both teachers and not, say things such as “This word, item, sentence, phrase, etc. is not used in standard English, X registers/text-types/genres, etc”. Many such commentaors insist that their take on things or their intuition is correct, even though they are sometimes challenged by evidence to the contrary. As a young ESL student, I felt the natives word on usage was God. As I grew older in the ESL world, I realised that this was not always true. In fact, along with peers, I discovered that quite a few times, native speakers were mistaken in their judgements upon usage. As you can imagine, such discovery can be frustrating.

I agree, but it happens right here also.

I wish I’d had a few more teachers with your approach.

Why not send him a private mail about that?

Sorry, I forgot such a thing existed. :cry:

Was using the article a in front of private mail intentional?

Hi Daemon,

For the last 2- 3 weeks I’ve been whizzing around France clocking up about 3,000 miles in all. At one hotel we stayed at there was a computer available connected to the Internet and I did have a quick look at the site and then I thought: No, I’m on holiday!


You just can’t leave us alone for a minute, can you, Alan? Do you think that we, little us, would get up to mischief? Naa, not us! :wink:

Being a classroom commentaor myself, I wonder how often an error of judgement needs to occur to make a learner frustrated. In my humble opinion I would think that native speaker intuition gives the student more than a 99 per cent chance of a fair judgement. Unfortunately, there are not many alternatives to native speakers to teach a language at a higher level. Maybe somebody as silver-tongued as you, Molly, could be eligible (depending on how intelligible your pronunciation is, of course).

I would identify all the students that I’d so grievously misled, over the years, and send each an appropriate reimbursement.

(There would of course be a £10 administration fee. So I would expect to end the exercise in profit.)


Indeed it was. Why do you ask?

Oh, it wouldn’t be just one error of judgement repeated a thousand times, it would be a collection of errors of judgement by a number of teachers over a number of years.

How did you reach that figure, Ralf?

Believe me, my husband runs a very prestigious language academy here in Spain and he could assure you that there are perfect alternatives even at higher level learning. We call them non-native teachers.

I would probably be eligible to teach Nigerian English, yes.