Indoctrination, empowerment or emancipation? The role of ELT in global society

Steve Brown, Roy Bicknell

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In a wide-ranging talk at the IATEFL BESIG-GISIG conference in Berlin in October 2019, Steve Brown addressed the current state of English language teaching and what he sees as its increasing commodification. In his view, we are promoting an ideology that monetises learning which requires English and English language programmes to be itemised as marketable commodities. He also states that we are stifling any capacities that might exist within ELT to critically explore and challenge current power structures and processes within global society. Drawing on the work of critical pedagogues such as Paolo Freire and Henry Giroux, he
invited the audience to explore alternatives that promote the emancipation of learners, as opposed to their indoctrination. We should allow learners to identify examples of social injustice and take steps to redress imbalances. This would eventually lead to a model of ELT that is socially responsible but also more congruent with widely accepted principles of language acquisition. This article presents a discussion between Steve Brown and Roy Bicknell, and explores some of the many points which were raised through his talk.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIATEFL BESIG Berlin 2019 Conference Selections
Subtitle of host publication32nd Annual Conference Berlin, Germany 11–13 October 2019
EditorsRoy Bicknell, Markus Dietz
Place of PublicationFaversham
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9781912588350
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2021

Publication series

NameIATEFL BESIG Berlin 2019 Conference Selections


  • ELT
  • emancipation
  • indoctrination
  • commodification
  • critical pedagogy


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