Professor Raimundo Tocantins

English language is closely linked to power, politics and privileges. In most countries, mastering this language represents both the possibility of personal and professional advancement, as well as a way of creating social and economic exclusion for those who do not have access to it. Some authors relate this reality to most ex-colonies in English-speaking countries, where education, especially higher education, provides the language of the ex-colonizer, using knowledge of the language as a decisive factor in accessing this education.

Phillipson (1992) identifies the influence of the English language as “linguistic imperialism”, representing a new form of domination exercised by the countries of the center over the countries of the periphery (“inner circle” and “expanding circle”), which would necessarily result in the threat the existence of national languages. Another term presented by the author is “linguisticism”, which means the imposition of cultural, economic, emotional and linguistic norms and values ​​by the dominator on the dominated. 

Such this domain is explained by the fact that all scientific and technological information is accessible through the English language, and that the teaching of that language must presuppose the idealization of values ​​and culture in the context of the countries from which it derives – understand here England and United States.

For Sukumane (2000) the valorization of the English language has an ideological character, as it provides the elite with a more comfortable life, access to the labor market and entry into the best schools, excluding those who do not have this privilege. The valorization of English, in some cases, implies the devaluation of the mother tongue, the regional languages ​​and the national culture itself.

In turn, Chew (1999) states that the imposition of the center on the periphery does not always exist. In most ex-colonies, English Language is adopted as a bottom-up decision, that is, a decision taken internally from society’s yearnings to provide future generations with access to a more promising future. In addition, it makes it possible for the country to be included in the world economy, so that it can participate effectively and efficiently in the phenomenon of globalization. To reinforce his position, the author cites the case of Singapore, where English was seen as the language that would make it possible to attract foreign investment, in addition to opening the way for higher education, foreign trade and the business world for an impoverished and divided society.


CHEW, Phyllis Ghim-Lian. Linguistic imperialism, globalism, and the English language. In: GRADDOL, David; MEINHOF, Ulrike H. (Org.). English in a changing world: AILA review. Oxford: Catchline; AILA, 1999. p. 37-47.

KACHRU, Braj B. Standards, codification and sociolinguistic realism: the English language in the outer circle. In: QUIRK, Randolph; WIDDOWSON, Henry G. (Ed.). English in the world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

PHILLIPSON, Robert. Linguistic imperialism. Oxford: Oxford UniversityPress, 1992.