Problematising Accents in Pluricentric Languages: The case of Teachers of Spanish as a World Language in Australia



linguistic diversity, language ideologies, accentism, teachers of Spanish as a World Language, linguistic discrimination


Spanish is a pluricentric language with nearly 500 million native speakers spread across twenty-one countries. Paradoxically, and despite the cultural and linguistic diversity that such a vast geographical distribution entails, approaches to teaching Spanish as a world language (SWL) remain largely monocentric, upholding Castilian Spanish as the “standard” norm and reproducing and perpetuating asymmetrical power relations among speakers of other Spanish varieties differing from it. Such linguistic hierarchies, which originated in colonial times, have given rise to accentism, a form of discrimination that, at first, might be understood as merely based on accent, but which entails a more complex set of interwoven factors. This paper aims to problematize the absence of accents in the teaching of SWL and to critically examine the roots of such linguistic discrimination as well as the long-lasting effects of the colonial legacy on teachers. To this end, the paper draws on empirical data from a study investigating the perceptions of university-level teachers of Spanish in Australia (n=38) towards normative geographical varieties of Spanish.

Author Biography

Macarena Ortiz-Jiménez, The University of Sydney

MACARENA ORTIZ-JIMÉNEZ, (she/her/hers/ella) Ph.D., holds a degree in Translation and Interpreting from the University of Granada (Spain), a master’s degree in Applied Linguistics from Nebrija University (Spain) and a doctorate from the University of Sydney. She is a researcher and Lecturer in the Spanish and Latin American Studies Program at the University of Sydney and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy UK. Her research and publications focus on sociolinguistic issues of teaching Spanish as an additional language following a critical, intersectional and decolonial lens, with a particular emphasis on language ideologies and their impact on teachers and their pedagogical practices.