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The Politics of English Language Education and Social Inequality Global Pressures, National Priorities and Schooling in India

    ISBN 9780367646189
    220 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    Published December 30, 2022 by Routledge

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    USD $44.95
    ISBN 9780367646165
    220 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    Published December 30, 2022 by Routledge

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    Sale Price USD $160.00
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    ISBN 9781003125488
    220 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    Published December 29, 2022 by Routledge

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    Based on policy analysis and empirical data, this book examines the problematic consequences of colonial legacies of language policies and English language education in the multilingual contexts of the Global South.

    Using a postcolonial lens, the volume explores the raciolinguistics of language hierarchies that results in students from low-income backgrounds losing their mother tongues without acquiring academic fluency in English. Using findings from five major research projects, the book analyzes the specific context of India, where ambiguous language policies have led to uneasy tensions between the colonial language of English, national and state languages, and students’ linguistic diversity is mistaken for cognitive deficits when English is the medium of instruction in schools. The authors situate their own professional and personal experiences in their efforts at dismantling postcolonial structures through reflective practice as teacher educators, and present solutions of decolonial resistance to linguistic hierarchies that include critical pedagogical alternatives to bilingual education and opportunities for increased teacher agency.

    Ultimately, this timely volume will appeal to researchers, scholars, academics, and students in the fields of international and comparative education, English and literacy studies, and language arts more broadly. Those interested in English language learning in low-income countries specifically will also find this book to be of benefit to their research.

    About the Authors

    List of figures and tables

    List of abbreviations


    Prologue: Our language stories

    PART I: The global context for language policy

    1 Introducing a postcolonial perspective on language education

    A colonial/postcolonial framework

    Language as a tool of oppression in globalization

    The diminishment of non-world languages

    Socio-economic barriers to acquisition of the English Language

    The structure of the book

    2 Language, linguicide and equity: Navigating the tension between heritage, national and colonial agendas

    Language vitality, status, and terminology

    National language policies in Pakistan and Bangladesh: Issues of linguistic equity

    The Chinese language diaspora in East Asia

    Language challenges in Taiwan and Hong Kong

    Linguicide or the integration of heritage language education?


    Part II: The politics and practice of India’s language education policy

    3. Language contestations and the illusions around English in India’s Three Language Formula

    English in education: From constitutional provisions to policy

    English as deliverance, English as Indian: Competing social and educational goals

    Pedagogic models of English Language Teaching: Ground realities and social disadvantage

    Repositioning English: Empowerment agendas and multiliteracy frameworks


    4. English language teachers and teacher education: Challenging normative linguistic positionings

    The impact of national education policies on language teacher education

    Moving beyond the colonial legacy: Alternative pedagogy and curricular models of language education

    Teachers’ pedagogy, invisibility, voice and agency

    Restructuring English language teacher education: New initiatives


    5. English medium private schools: Teaching bilingual and multilingual students in the context of inequality

    Language teaching in Karnataka private schools: Linguistic and cultural contexts

    Language of instruction: Helping those who struggle

    English language teaching in classroom contexts


    6. L2 English language acquisition: Dyslexia and learning inequalities in private schools

    Dyslexia: the language difference vs learning disorder debate

    Dyslexia and English literary acquisition in the Indian school context

    Learning disabilities, dyslexia and disadvantage

    The implications for disadvantaged learners in English medium private schools


    Part III: Decolonizing language education and challenging disadvantage  

    7. English language education and the case against neutrality

    Language and globalization: Hybridity, neutrality, and the danger of complicity

    Race and power: The persistence of racio-linguistic ideologies

    Considering postcolonial approaches in the English language classroom

    Reimagining a possible future of English language education

    8. Challenging disadvantage through language education policy and practice: New postcolonial directions

    The complexities and challenges of language education policies and practices

    Engaging in decolonial resistance and critical pedagogy

    The reflective practitioner: Rethinking our professional selves





    Maya Kalyanpur is Professor of Inclusive Education, Department of Learning and Teaching at the University of San Diego, USA.

    Padmini Bhuyan Boruah is Professor and Head, Department of English Language Teaching at Gauhati University, India.

    Sarina Chugani Molina is Associate Professor in English Language Education, Department of Learning and Teaching, University of San Diego, USA.

    Sunaina Shenoy is Assistant Professor in the Educational Diagnostic Certificate Program, Department of Special Education, University of New Mexico, USA.

    'This exquisitely complex book is invaluable for those of us seeking deeper understandings of the role played by English in magnifying economic inequalities globally. Building on wisdom drawn from their own life experiences with linguicide, transnationalism, and English-as-medium-of-education policies, these four authors render skilful analyses that shed light on the complicated dilemmas surrounding language-in-education policy. Offering insightful understandings widely applicable beyond the contemporary Indian context, the book provides supportive and constructive guidance for enacting critical resistance in the context of a range of often-neoliberal language policy reforms.'

    Suhanthie Motha, Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics/TESOL, English Department, University of Washington, USA

    'This book provides critical insights into processes of globalization and multilingual education from the perspective of the less privileged. Embodied by the personal experiences of four scholars from different regions and language groups, and richly situated in classrooms and communities in India, the book portrays dysfunctional outcomes. Educational policies motivated by the global pressures of economic progress and national goals of development hamper proficiencies in both heritage languages and English. We leave persuaded that a pedagogy that honestly addresses economic disparities, critiques ongoing colonial designs, and values heritage languages and epistemologies is more beneficial for the Global South.'

    Professor Suresh Canagarajah, Pennsylvania State University, USA.

    'This book makes a significant contribution to bringing together post-colonial scholarship on the politics and practices of language policies and language education. It draws on rich lived experiences of the diverse language identities of the authors. This richness is evident throughout the text as the authors engage in a nuanced manner with a complex intellectual terrain on language politics, whilst drawing on research evidence from the field. The arguments presented in the book also problematise the construction of disability and the labelling of learning disability especially in schooling contexts, such as those in India. The book raises important points in relation to how ‘disability’ labels are uncritically adopted in settings such as many English medium schools which provide access to first generation learners and largely non-English speakers from low-income background.'

    Nidhi Singal, Professor of Disability and Inclusive Education, University of Cambridge, UK

    'This provocative book will change how you think about language teaching and learning. In The Politics of English Language Education and Social Inequality, Kalyanpur, Boruah, Molina, and Shenoy offer an incisive analysis of how English language education operates as a colonizing presence. With a focus on a multilingual nation that has a complex relationship with English—India—the authors brilliantly weave personal experiences with research data and theory in order to illuminate reverberations of language policy, language teaching, and the language experiences of children across dimensions that range from identity to national policy to global domination.'

    Christine Sleeter, Professor Emerita, School of Professional Studies, California State University-Monterey Bay, USA

    'This book, authored by four Indian women, is unlike any other. It is written from the heart and from the women’s own life experiences and academic research. Theory about the role of English education in colonialism and globalization, as well as its relationship to poverty, flow here from the local Indian context, as the authors reflect jointly and foreground their own positionality. The book is an example of decolonial resistance not only to traditional English language education, but also to academic treatises that do not reveal the authors’ selves.'

    Ofelia García, Professor Emerita, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA

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