Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

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

Published Web Location

This article highlights two relationships in regards to neoliberalism and second language. First, it examines the connection between English and neoliberalism. It focuses on the idea of English as a global language and the linguistic instrumentalism (Kubota, 2011; Wee, 2003) of English as a necessary tool for economic viability in the globalized market. Second, it explores this relationship by tracing English in the contemporary neoliberal context to the history of English as an element of overseas colonial rule. It employs Peruvian sociologist Anibal Quijano’s notion of coloniality of power (2000) to illustrate that the colonial context of neoliberal global English serves not merely as a historical legacy but as an enduring structure of oppressive power that continues to establish hierarchical difference through linguistic othering.

This article highlights the historical context of colonial English instruction to demonstrate how English imposition served as the foundation for the neoliberal privileging of English as a global language. Specifically, it presents the cases of American colonial English instruction in Puerto Rico and the Philippines as a developmental link to the current neoliberal status of global English. It illuminates how American colonial administrations established English instruction in a manner that mystified its imposed nature and the context of conquest. This article thus depicts both how English is bound with neoliberalism and how claims of global English’s neutrality belie the historic colonial inequalities, which created the conditions for its existence. It concludes with an examination of the coloniality of global English and the enduring colonial structures of hierarchical difference established through English.

Main Content
Current View