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

  • Author(s): Sayer, Peter
  • et al.

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As global English expands, developing countries feel the pressure that, in order to remain globally competitive, they must increase the number of people with English proficiency.  In response, many countries have significantly expanded English instruction in public schools by implementing primary English language teaching (PELT) programs.  This is particularly true in countries in Southeast Asia and Latin America, where national Ministries of Education have taken a “more & earlier” approach, integrating English into the public primary curriculum.  Children start learning English younger and study the language more during their basic education.  The author argues that this language education policy shift toward expanding English in the public education curricula in developing countries is best understood as a shift from past models of elite English bilingualism to policies intended to support the macroacquisition, or general proficiency in English.  The rationale for this policy change is framed in terms of the “modernization” and “internationalization” of a country’s public education system, and hence should be understood as part of the response to align education curricula and programs with neoliberal policies.  The author examines Mexico’s recent national English program for public primary schools as a case study in the implementation of neoliberal language policy.

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