National Standards for the Teaching of English in Colombia: A Critical Discourse Analysis
Committee ChairWaugh, Linda
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe spread of English in the world today is not only the result of colonizing campaigns (Canagarajah, 1999, 2005; Pennycook, 1994a, 1998a, 2000; Phillipson, 1992, 2000) but also of the compliance of the governments associated with the "expanding circle" (Kachru, 1986). In part, this compliance is a consequence of the different mechanisms of the circulation of discourse, in particular the idea that speaking English is a sine qua non condition to be a worldwide citizen. Colombia is a good example of this phenomenon, because its national government is implementing a National Bilingualism Project (PNB) where there is an explicit interest in the promotion of English over all other languages spoken in the country. This dissertation is a critical discourse analysis of the handbook Estándares básicos de competencias en lenguas extranjeras: Inglés. Formar en lenguas extranjeras, el reto" (Basic standards for competences in foreign languages: English. Teach in foreign languages: the challenge) published by the Ministry of Education of Colombia. This handbook is aimed at establishing the national standards for the teaching of English in Colombian public schools. The objective of the study is to offer an interpretation of the way in which bilingualism, English, and teachers are constructed through the language used in the handbook. The analysis of data follows Fairclough’s textual analysis and is supported by other written texts and informed by scholarly articles. The analysis of data shows that the official discourse creates a whole new meaning for “bilingualism” since it indexes exclusively the learning of English in Colombia. Along with this, the authors of the handbook perpetuate mainstream concepts and ideas about the symbolic power of English as the one and only necessary tool for academic and economic success. This is achieved by a redundant discourse on the neutrality of English on the one hand, and the benefits it brings to its speakers, on the other. In relation to the portrayal of teachers in this document, the data show that their role is either downplayed or made invisible, which also correlates with the low prestige that school teachers have in Colombia. The study leads to the conclusion that a document that contains national standards for the teaching of a language should include multiple voices where local knowledge gets the same recognition as global knowledge, and where the diversity of the country is represented, respected and promoted. In that way, official institutions would be legislating to benefit the majority of the population, and not the small number of elites of the country.
Degree ProgramSecond Language Acquisition & Teaching