Date of Award

12-22-2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dan J. Tannacito, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Bennett A. Rafoth, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Michael M. Williamson, Ph.D.

Abstract

This dissertation joins the debate over the global hegemony of English by investigating discursive relationships between English, English language teaching (ELT), and the building of open societies. Following Phillipson (1992, p. 2), I sought to relate how “language pedagogy supports the spread and promotion of [English], to the political, economic, military, and cultural pressures that propel it forward.” To do so, I analyzed the discourses of the Open Society Institute Soros Foundations Network (OSI/SFN), which works to build open societies globally. Crucially, OSI/SFN constructed English and ELT as necessary to this work through its English Language Programs (ELP) initiative, managed from New York and implemented throughout former Soviet bloc countries from 1994-2005. Using critical discourse analysis, I first analyzed how the New York-based ELP discourse constructed English, ELT, the role of English in building open societies, and the actors involved in these programs. I then mapped identified discourse chains as they were reproduced, rescripted, transformed, or resisted in (a) the written discourses of local Soros-funded English language programs and projects in post-communist countries; and (b) in the discourses of actors involved in these programs. Multiple findings emerged. The New York ELP discourse effectuated a form of supranational language management, fostered supranational identity through “re-scaling” space(Fairclough, 2006), reproduced Holliday’s (2005) “native-speakerism,” qualified access to ELP, and constructed English as the language of open society. Local discourses both reproduced the necessity of English to building open societies and started new discourse chains promoting linguistic diversity, local ownership and expertise, and greater inclusiveness. Interview participants constructed English as the lingua franca of open societies, but a negotiated, simplified, international English detached from culture. They further voiced the risks of EU accession and the dominance of English as Othering, marginalizing, and threatening the countries, peoples, and languages east of Western Europe. These findings accentuate the need for English language aid projects to include more local stakeholders in decision-making at all levels, invite two-way exchange of program design and instruction, and promote “critical language awareness” (Fairclough, 1992a) by integrating local knowledge, discourse conventions, methodological diversity, and context-sensitivity into ELT worldwide.

Share

COinS