English Only Worldwide or Language Ecology?

Robert Phillipson, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The multilingualisms of the United Nations, the European Union, and postcommunist Europe are very different phenomena. English plays a
key role in each and is being actively promoted. The language map of Europe and linguistic hierarchies are evolving and are in need of
scrutiny so that research and policy in Europe can benefit from insights that come from theoretically informed study of language planning, policy, and legislation. Overall there seem to be two language policy options, a diffusion-of-English paradigm and an ecology-of-language paradigm. The first is characterized by triumphant capitalism, its science and technology, and a monolingual view of modernization and internationalization. The ecology-of-language paradigm involves building on linguistic diversity worldwide, promoting multilingualism and foreign language learning, and granting linguistic human rights to speakers of all languages. This article explores the assumptions of both paradigms and urges English language teaching professionals to support the latter.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTESOL Quarterly
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)429–452
Publication statusPublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Also published in: May, S. (Eds.) (2017). Language rights (The International Library of Essays on Rights). Taylor & Francis. Chp. 8. Pg. 211-234.

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