Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version

Winter 10-5-2021

Document Type



Bock Thiessen, C. (2021). Confronting the past, challenging the future: Linguistic hegemony, capitalism, and neoliberalism in TESOL. THE NEBRASKA EDUCATOR, VOLUME 6 (October 2021), pp 80-91.

doi: 10.32873/unl.dc.ne023


Copyright © 2021 University of Nebraska


Western capitalistic values that have given shape to contemporary neoliberal ideologies have, for too long now, greatly influenced the field of teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) as a whole, essentially working to continue cycles of injustice and inequality throughout the field despite well-meaning intentions to the contrary. Dominant language ideologies and linguistic hegemony have greatly shaped both socialized and institutional discourse in English and have worked together to help commodify the idea of upward mobility and success for anyone and everyone who “buys-in” to learning English, reflecting neoliberal selling points that are often taken for granted as natural realities. This has resulted in a pervasive maintenance of global social hierarchies despite the fact that the field regularly promotes and markets egalitarian efforts. This critical essay draws upon contemporary research and realities within the field of TESOL to examine the current gap that exists between where the field says it is versus the neoliberal inequalities it inadvertently promotes and maintains. It argues for more deliberate and critical analysis on how these ideological systems have shaped and continue to inform the field as we know it, and how it will be impossible for TESOL to truly serve in the equitable and just capacities in which it strives to place itself without more critical reflection leading to actual and meaningful change.