Population and English Language Teaching

Global English Education Policy

As also displayed on the previous page, 77.6% of the 183 countries we collected data on have English as a mandatory subject in their national education systems. In the following pages, we look at the extend of this English language teaching (which grades and how many hours a week is included), but here we want to provide a better picture by focusing on the actual populations of these countries.

While we are very cognizant and accept many of the points made in the substantial and on-going critique of analyses that are overly focused on the nation-state as a unit of analysis (e.g. Bruthiaux 2003; Makoni and Pennycook 2006; Canagarajah 2013), this project shows that there is a danger if such critiques lead to a minimization of the actual important roles that states play especially in terms of specific policies concerning language education. Some may argue that no amount of combining territorial representation provided by maps or data organized in terms of state sovereignty with population-framed data, nevertheless, language education policies have a dramatic impact on language use, and it is through their control over populations that this impact is organized. We are not suggesting that the fluidity, hybridity and practices of translanguaging are unimportant especially in challenging boundaries between key concepts like native and non-native speakers, languages and dialects or variations of a language, as well as English and other languages (García and Li Wei 2014). Instead, we are presenting data that illustrates many of the specific pressures that exist against such fluid translanguaging practices and also the policy and structured contexts in which they take place and at times resist.

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