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International Journal of English and Literature (IJEL) ISSN 2249-6912 Vol. 3, Issue 4, Oct 2013, 73-76 Š TJPRC Pvt. Ltd.

ELT AND IDEOLOGY RAJ KISHOR SINGH Sanothimi Campus, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal

ABSTRACT Different faculties of human life and society have different ideologies. Politics, culture, race, religion, education, and many other faculties have their own ideologies. People using English language have also some ideologies regarding the use and spirit of English language. Though it has been international language and being used in the all parts of the world, native and non-native speakers have their own distinct views, attitudes and ideologies about the language and their attachment with the language. In the present paper, these ideologies are critically analysed.

KEYWORDS: Ideology, Philosophy, English Language, English Ideology INTRODUCTION An ideology is a set of ideas that constitute one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things, as in several philosophical tendencies, or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society (a "received consciousness" or product of socialization). The main purpose behind an ideology is to offer either change in society, or adherence to a set of ideals where conformity already exists, through a normative thought process.1 Ideologies are systems of abstract thought applied to public matters and thus make this concept central to politics. Implicitly every political or economic tendency entails an ideology whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought. It is how society sees things. The love of wisdom (philosophy) can take the form of being a seeker after knowledge. It can also take the form of being a proponent of ideas. So ideology presenters take their place among philosophers. Philosophical ideas are not the presentations of persons who are wandering in search of knowledge. These are from people who feel that they have found some knowledge, and wish to share it, to advocate it, to get others to accept it as knowledge. 2 Not all questions have to be open-ended at all times for everybody. If they were, there would be no "wisdom" for anybody to love. Ideologies are sometimes good and helpful to mankind. Sometimes they are bad and harmful to mankind. An ideology is basically a presentation of ideas. 3 Some ideas are helpful, and some are hurtful. To turn away from all ideas -- from all ideologies -- is to become closed to knowledge. To accept all ideas is to become undiscerning and lacking in judgment. So the ideal human is open to ideas (and ideologies) – accepts some of them, rejects some of them, by using critical thinking skills. Pro-abortion right is an ideology. Republicanism is an ideology. Atheism is an ideology. Marxism is an ideology. Ideology refers to a set of beliefs, doctrines that back a certain social institution or a particular organization. Philosophy refers to looking at life in a pragmatic manner and attempting to understand why life is as it is and the principles governing behind it. Ideology expresses dissatisfaction with the current state and aspires to be some future state whereas philosophy tries to understand the world in its current state. In other words, ideology is aimed at changing the world whereas philosophy is aimed at seeking the truth.


Raj Kishor Singh

The term ideology in language studies refers to a shared body of commonsense notions about the nature of language, the nature and purpose of communication, and appropriate communicative behavior; these commonsense notions and assumptions are seen as expressions of a collective order (Woolard, 1992).4 ELT and Ideology English varies from region to region, and also because of the variation on the bases of education, social status, first language interference, etc. Ideas regarding Standard English and Non-standard English are full of bias. The belief in the fixity of Standard English entails what Cameron (1995) calls an “ideology of variation” that depicts variation as “deviant,” the result of language users’ “carelessness, idleness or incompetence”. 5 In the context of global English and global Englishes, ‘varieties’ is the term most preferred while talking about the variation in English use. Grammar books, dictionaries, and most ELT textbooks are instruments of standard language ideology: they present the illusion of a uniform target (standard) language, assuming, despite evidence to the contrary, that uniformity is the norm (Milroy & Milroy, 1985)6. In contrast to this ideology of the norm of uniformity in English, present scenario is changing because they are asking for locally designed textbooks with local variety of English and local culture. Objective of a discourse analysis is the denaturalization of the ideologies. Ideology is a system of ideas which constitutes and pilots the large power blocks of our society. Ideologies form the basis of the belief systems or social representations of specific groups. Language is a medium of ideological forces. English language is globally forceful with occidental ideologies. However, cross-cultural, inter-continental and international ideologies are being widely transported by the means of English language. Education is about thinking critically about the world we live in and making more sense of it. We have some ideologies regarding school and teachers (school as a neutral environment purged of ideology and teachers respectful of the ‘conscience’ and ‘freedom’ open up for them the path to the freedom, morality and responsibility of adults by their own example, by knowledge, literature and their ‘liberating’ virtues - Althusser)7. Schools and teachers expose us to the local and world ideologies. Means of exposure is mostly English language. English language has world status of lingua franca. It is recognized as world language/world English/global English. English as world language is one kind of idea among people but there are local and regional varieties of English, and this has developed another kind of ideology. That is an idea of world Englishes. New ideology is that all varieties of English or world Englishes should be given equal honour. Problem is that native speakers believe that world Englishes are not standard in the sense of British or American standard of English. Ideologies of immigrants and minority language speakers are also under discussion. Their language is at risk. They have to change their language and they are bound to learn the local language. Local language dominates their language; as a result, their future generations will never learn or know their heritage language. Migrant identity will be forever as a tag because their language learnt in the local place will have variation in pronunciation and other uses. White prestige ideology linked with English language has its effects on different aspects of society. It has effects on English language teachers’ employment. An Indian or Chinese or Korean or African does not have same prestige that a British or an American has. Discrimination can be observed during the process of employment and other activities. Reality must be accepted regarding the British and American status of English, but present changing scenario cannot be denied. This is merely a false consciousness in ELT.

ELT and Ideology


Learner’s autonomy must be respected for learning English of any standard or variety because he knows that English is a lingua franca, just a means of communication, and he does not need to have competence like a British or an American. English has existence in different forms like a foreign language, a second language, or a lingua franca. Issues are often raised on ELT materials whether they are purged of British or American ideologies or of native speakers’ ideologies in general. English curricula have hardly local materials. They include British materials or American materials. They have political, cultural, religious, and other effects on local people and different aspects of their life. Nothing should be included that is considered ideologically or culturally sensitive. As far as possible, ELT materials should appear to be non-ideological though that is less possible. Content that is included should be harmless in the sense of local ideology. No doubt, the subject matters of ELT materials include some ideology, and these can be local as well as foreign. These are need-based materials. Not only the ideology, it is also remarkable to see that English language has become a subject of politics. Language policies are made and lots of expenses are made. Once that was done (of course, that’s still being done) by British council and British library and now that’s being done by American library and educational centre. British textbooks tend to entertain the students while American textbooks include more occupational and business-related issues. They are working hard and expending a lot of money to build up their own images. ELT in colonial period and that in postcolonial period is not same. ELT in colonial period was a part of British imperialism. Therefore, English language teaching, learning, and speaking were evaluated on the basis of British English standard. British prestige was connected with English language use. Postcolonial ELT is not bound to British English standard; American English, Canadian English, Australian English, and also local variety are being given priority and adopted. The ideology of the native English speaker as the ideal teacher is widely perceived in the world though that’s very illogical. Naturally, we cannot justify that just being native English speaker, one can be an ideal teacher. If it is true, all native English speakers will be ideal teachers. They don’t need academic qualifications and trainings. This ideology is highly honoured in Arabian countries and many Asian countries like Korea, Japan, etc. They publish vacancies for native English speakers as teachers, without caring whether they are qualified for the jobs. WE ideology, though concerned with Europe, is dominant also in the world. They practice linguistic imperialism challenging the localization. ELT is not devoid of ideological and cultural values. New pedagogic orientations in ELT are developing with local issues and global trends. Different technologies are also supporting in this development. ELT profession is being adopted by more people in the world other than Native speakers; non-native speakers are larger in number than native speakers.

CONCLUSIONS Ideologies regarding the ELT, though they are of various kinds and values, are relevant in the present world because the language is not limited to certain place, people and time. It is not property of some people; it’s the world’s property. Problems, conflicts, issues, debates, etc. may rise on use and spirit of English language because of the popularity. However, majority of world people have popular votes and solidarity with English language and so their voices cannot be subdued.


Definition of Ideology. Retrieved from < >


Raj Kishor Singh


What is the difference between philosophy and ideology? Retrieved from <>




Cummins, Jim, and Chris Davidson. (2007). International Handbook of English Language Teaching. Part 1. New York: Springer. p.26.


Ibid. p. 29.


Ibid. p.30.


Lee, Alison. (1990). Realism and Power: Postmodern British Fiction. Routlege. p. 58.

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Different faculties of human life and society have different ideologies. Politics, culture, race, religion, education, and many other facult...

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