Special issue of L2 journal: Critical Perspectives on Neoliberalism in Second/Foreign Language Education

Critical Perspectives on Neoliberalism in Second/Foreign Language Education

With guest editors Katie A. Bernstein, Emily A. Hellmich, Noah Katznelson, Jaran Shin, and Kimberly Vinall


Accountability, competitiveness, efficiencyprofit: While it is not surprising to hear these terms in corporate offices around the world, it is slightly alarming to hear these terms in reference to schools, teachers, and students. Second/foreign language education, like education more broadly, has not only been influenced by the language and logic of the market; it has been responsible for reproducing many of its discourses. The coercive impact of neoliberalism for second/foreign language education is readily observable at multiple levels:


  1. Language as a technicized skill
  2. Culture as a commodity
  3. Language teachers as expendable and replaceable knowledge workers
  4. Language learners as entrepreneurs and consumers
  5. The creation of a global language teaching industry
  6. The emergence of new linguistic markets: Global English


Yet, while language has become both a target and an instrument of neoliberalization, language education offers the possibility to develop the critical capacities of our students as they learn to read the world and to use language to shape and govern it. This special issue has two aims:

  1. To contribute to the growing body of research within applied linguistics, sociolinguistics, second language acquisition, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) that investigates neoliberalism’s impact on language education, seeking to denaturalize neoliberal processes and uncover their influences (i.e., Holborow, 2007; Block, Gray, & Holborow, 2012).
  2. To create a space for critical perspectives that situate second/foreign language education as a site of potential struggle against the naturalization of neoliberalism, thereby opening the possibility for resistance and change.


Contents of the special issue:

Preface and Introduction to the Special Issue

Preface to the Special Issue

Kramsch, Claire

Introduction to Special Issue: Critical Perspectives on Neoliberalism in Second / Foreign Language Education

Bernstein, Katie A.; Hellmich, Emily A.; Katznelson, Noah; Shin, Jaran; Vinall, Kimberly


Mapping Conceptual Change: The Ideological Struggle for the Meaning of EFL in Uruguayan Education

Canale, German

“More & Earlier”: Neoliberalism and Primary English Education in Mexican Public Schools

Sayer, Peter

Language Learning as a Struggle for Distinction in Today’s Corporate Recruitment Culture: An Ethnographic Study of English Study Abroad Practices among South Korean Undergraduates

Jang, In Chull

Space and Language Learning under the Neoliberal Economy

Gao, Shuang; Park, Joseph Sung-Yul

Neoliberal Discourses and the Local Policy Implementation of an English Literacy and Civics Education Program

López, Dina

The Coloniality of Neoliberal English: The Enduring Structures of American Colonial English Instruction in the Philippines and Puerto Rico

Hsu, Funie

In the Face of Neoliberal Adversity: Engaging Language Education Policy and Practices

Davis, Kathryn A.; Phyak, Prem

Neoliberalism, Universities and the Discourse of Crisis

Ramírez, Andrés; Hyslop-Margison, Emery