Linguistic Imperialism

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Linguistic Imperialism

Format: Paperback
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Shortlisted for the 2000 BAAL Book Prize

This book explores the contemporary phenomenon of English as an international language, and sets out to analyse how and why the language has become so dominant. It looks at the spread of English historically, at the role it plays in Third World countries, and at the ideologies transmitted through the English language.

  • ISBN: 978-0-19-437146-9
  • Pages: 376
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Dimensions: 216x138 mm


The series attracts single or co-authored volumes from authors researching at the cutting edge of this dynamic field of interdisciplinary enquiry. The titles range from books that make such developments accessible to the non-specialist reader to those which explore in depth their relevance for the way language is to be conceived as a subject, and how courses and classroom activities are to be designed. As such, these books not only extend the field of applied linguistics itself and lend an additional significance to its enquiries, but also provide an indispensable professional foundation for language pedagogy and its practice.

The scope of the series includes:
  • second language acquisition
  • bilingualism and multi/plurilingualism
  • language pedagogy and teacher education
  • testing and assessment
  • language planning and policy
  • language internationalization
  • technology-mediated communication
  • discourse-, conversation-, and contrastive-analysis
  • pragmatics
  • stylistics
  • lexicography
  • translation



1 ELT: Taking stock of a world commodity
The aims of this book
English for all?
Professional and ethical aspects of ELT 'aid'

2 English, the dominant language
English in core English-speaking countries
English in periphery-English countries
Language promotion
Opposition to the dominance of English

3 Linguistic imperialism: theoretical foundations
A cautionary word on terminology
A working definition of English linguistic imperialism
Linguistic imperialism and linguicism
Cultural imperialism in science, the media, and education
The State, hegemony, and ELT

4 Earlier work relevant to linguistic imperialism
Language spread
The sociology of language
Language planning
Theoretical models of language teaching and learning
Linguistic human rights
Two approaches, Wardhaugh and Calvet

5 The colonial linguistic inheritance
Their masters' language
Colonial educational language policy and practice
The importance of English as a colonial inheritance

6 British and American promotion of English
The origins and structure of the British Council
The British strategy for expanding ELT
American promotion of English
Anglo-American collaboration

7 Creating a profession: the structure and tenets of ELT
Creating a British academic base for ELT
ELT and educational language planning for under-developed countries
Tenet one: English is best taught monolingually
Tenet two: the ideal teacher of English is a native speaker
Tenet three: the earlier English is taught, the better the results
Tenet four: the more English is taught, the better the results
Tenet five: if other languages are used much, standards of English will drop
Conclusions: the legacy of Makerere

8 English language teaching in action
ELT research
ELT in 'aid' to education
- The overall context of ELT 'aid'
- EFL, ESL or ... ?
- Principles for the analysis of ELT in 'aid'
- Postulate 1: political disconnection
- Postulate 2: narrowly technical training
- English for special and new purposes

9 Arguments in linguistic imperialist discourse
Types of argument and types of power
English-intrinsic arguments
English-extrinsic arguments
English-functional arguments
The means used to exert linguistic power
Arguments in language planning for Namibia

10 Linguistic imperialism and ELT
ELT: master-minded?
On the force of the evidence
Studying ELT and imperialism



  • 'What is original about his treatise is that it provides the first systematic examination of the enormous significance of language to most neo-colonial enterprises. It should be recommended to anyone convinced of the 'superiority' of the English language or of the necessity of its universal dissemination.'
    - New Internationalist (21/09/1995)
  • 'This is an important, groundbreaking study of the political background and impact of the spread of English. Congratulations are due to Phillipson for having taken on this task ... Phillipson has tackled a topic of major proportion and his work shows his wide reading of a large number of interesting sources ... He has drawn attention dramatically to important issues that have so far been mainly ignored and that cry out for continued investigation, and his book should be required reading for all concerned with the development and implementation of language policy.'
    - Journal of Pragmatics (12/02/1996)

Part of... Oxford Applied Linguistics

Home to the most innovative studies in its field, the Oxford Applied Linguistics series furthers research in English teaching and learning, and provides strong foundations for language pedagogy.

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