Global English Education Policy

Welcome to the Global English[1] Education portal

This portal includes visualizations, explanations and access to the database of the project, “How States Promote Global English: Shifting Priorities in Education Policy,” funded by an Insight Development Grant (2016-2019) from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), 430-2016-00606, held by Peter Ives (University of Winnipeg, Political Science), Jeff Bale (University of Toronto / Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Curriculum, Teaching and Learning) and Eve Haque (York University, Languages, Literatures and Linguistics).


Countries in blue mandate English language teaching in their national education policy

There are large bodies of research across many academic disciplines concerning the massive spread of English usage around the globe since the middle of the 20th century. This project was born from a concern about the lack of macro-level data on the role of national public education systems in teaching English especially as a mandatory subject. Most academic, policy and media discussions of the advent of global English emphasize the role of technology (especially transportation and digital) and economic globalization as the most important factors in both the causes and implications. We hope that this website and database will create greater awareness of the role of national public education policy in the spread of English. Such considerations challenge common assumptions that individuals are choosing to learn and speak English and reductionist notions that the ‘communicative value’ of English is at the core of this phenomenon without an interrogation of the actual mechanisms through which people learn to use English (e.g. De Swaan 2001; Van Parijs 2011). We see this work as fostering important contexts in which many people make this ‘choice’ and more importantly who is making which choices, how policy and educational decisions fit into power relations and resources that are operative. We want the database and website to be useful to other researchers conducting diverse research on many related topics especially more mezzo- and micro-level analyses for which this can provide a global context.

As discussed below in detail, we are aware of the limitations of this data including its focus solely on national policies that are often aspirational more than descriptive and its exclusion of private education and complex differences especially within regions of any given country. In countries such as Thailand, education is not mandatory and in others the actual rates of school attendance are quite low. Our hope is that researchers involved in case-studies, comparative analyses, ethnographic work and other more contextualized and situated research will find this database helpful not at all as a replacement or reduction of more contextually driven research but rather as providing some macro-level perspective. Similarly, this project barely broaches the surface of critical discourse analysis of the policy documents at hand and we hope it can assist those involved in these types of analyses. For more information about access to the raw data on which this website is based or questions, comments and feedback see the Contact/Further Information page (the menu is on the left of this page).

It is also important to highlight that this data was collected between 2016-2019 precisely as important worldwide changes were occurring in terms of the resurgence of nationalism and arguably a collapse of ideologies of global cosmopolitanism.


[1] We use the term ‘global English’ as a broad category that includes what others refer to as ‘World English’ or ‘World Englishes’, ‘English in the world,’ ‘International English,’ ‘English as a lingua franca’ and ‘lingua franca English.’ While there are debates about the implications of these different terms, the key point is that the massive increase in the use of English around the world since 1950 has been primarily users of English as a ‘non-native’ or ‘additional’ language. Many linguists point out (e.g. Crystal 2003) that unlike other classical understandings of ‘lingua franca’ as a language used in a restricted domain usually of trade and business, global English refers to the use of English across almost all language domains (business and the workplace, entertainment, religion, culture, personal interactions, etc…). This project does not explicitly address – but hopes to be useful for – the very important research and debates concerning the varieties of English used, the unstable distinctions between ‘native’ and ‘non-native’ language users and questions of language standardization, nation-building, and identity.

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