International Review of Education

, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 185–200

English for Globalisation or for the World's People?

  • Robert Phillipson

DOI: 10.1023/A:1017937322957

Cite this article as:
Phillipson, R. International Review of Education (2001) 47: 185. doi:10.1023/A:1017937322957


The article explores the role of English in ongoing processes of globalisation, the reasons for its dominance, and the need for conceptual clarification in analysing English worldwide. Examples from the post-colonial and post-communist worlds and the European Union reveal increasing corporate involvement in education, and World Bank policies that favour European languages. Studies of global English range from those that uncritically endorse global English to those which see it as reflecting a post-imperial but essentially capitalist agenda. Many of the contem-porary trends are captured in two competing language policy paradigms that situate English in broader economic, political and cultural facets of globalisation, the Diffusion of English paradigm, and the Ecology of Languages paradigm. A number of studies of various dimensions of linguistic and professional imperialism in the teaching of English to Asians reveal the persistence of western agendas in education. There is also increasing documentation of resistance to this, both at the level of awareness of the need to anchor English more firmly in local cultural systems, and at classroom level. Language pedagogy needs to ensure that English is not learned subtractively. Only in this way can globalisation be made more accountable and locally relevant.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Phillipson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishCopenhagen Business SchoolFrederiksbergDenmark