Educational Research Journal

On Struggles and Resistance: English-medium Education as Intrinsically “Good”

2008.第23卷第1期(Vol. 23 No. 1).pp. 45–70

On Struggles and Resistance: English-medium Education as Intrinsically “Good”

Tat-Heung CHOI(蔡達香)


This article consists of a review and discussion of the literature on English-medium education and social differentiation in colonial contexts. A major question concerns the extent to which access to English, and its relationship to social inequality, are converging in diverse contexts (Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong) formerly under a specific colonial power (Britain). By engaging the review in comparative perspectives, the discussions challenge the confident assumption that English-medium education is intrinsically “good” in the discourse of English as an international language. English-medium education tends to promote unequal opportunity for students on the basis of social class; and class disparity is reinforced by the requirements for good English in society, in both study and work contexts. This article further argues that the unequal basis and consequences of differential access to English and the local struggles around English need to be redressed; and that the perspectives of the field of English Language Teaching with a prevalent interest in pedagogical issues need to be broadened.

Keywords: English-medium education; social differentiation; colonial contexts