Why English? Confronting the Hydra Edited by: Pauline Bunce, Robert Phillipson, Vaughan Rapatahana, Ruanni Tupas

Hardback - 312 pages
Related Formats:
10 Jun 2016
Multilingual Matters
234 x 156


This book explores the ways and means by which English threatens the vitality and diversity of other languages and cultures in the modern world. Using the metaphor of the Hydra monster from ancient Greek mythology, it explores the use and misuse of English in a wide range of contexts, revealing how the dominance of English is being confronted and counteracted around the globe. The authors explore the language policy challenges for governments and education systems at all levels, and show how changing the role of English can lead to greater success in education for a larger proportion of children. Through personal accounts, poems, essays and case studies, the book calls for greater efforts to ensure the maintenance of the world’s linguistic and cultural diversity.


This book demonstrates how a seductive ideology of English is built, by whom and for whose benefit. It also shows how a policy of using English alone in the school curriculum costs communities in multiple ways. The volume should create awareness among people, educators and policy makers about how to eliminate this enormous cost. This collection promotes a pedagogy that will add English to the language repertoire of people without them losing anything.

- E. Annamalai, University of Chicago, USA, and former Director of the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, India

The contributors to this volume expose the Orwellian overtones that mask the linguistic imperialism that is being peddled in terms of growth, development, partnership, volunteerism, and aid. The many examples of innovation and success stories they offer give hope that resistance is not futile after all. This volume is for anyone who cares about ethically sound and socially relevant pathways to (English) language education.

- B. Kumaravadivelu, San Jose State University, USA

In stark contrast to the many books that celebrate uncritically the global spread of English, this thought-provoking volume explores and reflects on some of the more problematic aspects of this phenomenon. It does so innovatively in a variety of written styles and from a wide range of international perspectives. It will be of interest to the specialist and the general reader alike.

- John Gray, University College London, UK

This volume would be a great text for both educators and students to explore the multiple ways and means English has impacted on indigenous language loss.

- TESOLANZ Journal, Volume 24, 2016 - Patrick Coleman, Lincoln University, UK

Author Biography:

Pauline Bunce is an Australian teacher who has worked in Brunei Darussalam, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Her doctoral research examined the reading challenges posed by an alphabetic script for Chinese learners of English in Hong Kong.

Robert Phillipson is an Emeritus Professor at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark and was awarded the UNESCO Linguapax Prize in 2010. He has published extensively on language learning, linguistic imperialism, linguistic human rights, multilingual education and language policy.

Vaughan Rapatahana is from New Zealand and has taught in a number of international locations. He has been published extensively in a variety of genres and his PhD was in Existential Literary Criticism.

Ruanni Tupas teaches at the National Institute of Education, Singapore and was the Linguistic Society of the Philippines’ 2009 Andrew Gonzalez Distinguished Professorial Chair holder. 

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional

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