Decolonizing English: Reimagining English Language Learning and Teaching through Critical Pedagogies



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At the turn of the century, nearly a quarter of the world’s population (1.5 billion people) was estimated to speak English with some fluency. English has gained an official or special status in at least seventy-five countries and it is undoubtedly the most widely taught foreign language among all languages in the world. Being a lingua franca in science and technology, economy, politics, education, journalism, media and culture, and more, English seems to have solidified its status as “the” international language and its supremacy is seldom questioned. Critically examining the history of the spread of English worldwide, its hegemonic characteristics, and its impact on local languages and identities, I problematize the alleged necessity and promise of the English language from both macro and micro perspectives. In this thesis, I reflect on my own experience of English acquisition, analyze Bhutan’s effort to bring education through the medium of English, and explore possible applications of critical pedagogy in English language classrooms. By combining autobiographical, ethnographical, and theoretical writing, I invite readers to reflect on their own relationship to this global language and what actions to take.



English, English language teaching, English language learning, English as a second language, English as a foreign language, World Englishes, Creole, critical pedagogy, imperialism, colonization, coloniality, Bhutan, Japan, Japanese, gross national happiness, modernization, development, anthropology, autobiography, ethnography, identity, Paulo Freire, education, language theory, language acquisition, empowerment