The access paradox.
Because English is a dominant world language, access to English provides students with ‘linguistic capital’. Bourdieu’s theory of the linguistic market (1991) has important consequences for the teaching of a powerful language such as English. English teachers, who take issues of language, power and identity seriously, confront the following irresolvable contradiction. If you provide more people with access to the dominant variety of the dominant language, you contribute to perpetuating and increasing its dominance. If, on the other hand, you deny students access, you perpetuate their marginalisation in a society that continues to recognise this language as a mark of distinction. You also deny them access to the extensive resources available in that language; resources which have developed as a consequence of the language's dominance. This contradiction is what Lodge (1997) calls the ‘access paradox’. This paper explores ways of working inside the contradiction by examining language in education policy in South Africa as well as classroom materials and classroom practices. It shows the importance of counterbalancing access with an understanding of linguistic hegemony, diversity as a productive resource, and the way in which ‘design’ can be enriched by linguistic and cultural hybridity.
Language and power, Language policy in education – South Africa
The access paradox. English in Australia, (139), 33-42.