Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor's Name

Eric Dwyer

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Hilary Landorf

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Sarah Mathews

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Linda Spears-Bunton

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


foreign language education policy, English as a foreign language, Programa Nacional de Bilingüismo Colombia, ecology of languages, critical language policy research, hegemony of English

Date of Defense



Since 2004 the Colombian Ministry of Education has been implementing the Programa Nacional de Bilingüismo (PNB) with the goal of having bilingual high school graduates in English and Spanish by 2019. However, implementation of the PNB has been criticized by English Language Teaching (ELT) specialists in the country who say, among other things, that the PNB introduced a discourse associated exclusively with bilingualism in English and Spanish.

This study analyzed interviews with 15 participants of a public school of the Colombian Escuela Nueva, a successful model of community-based education that has begun a process of internationalization, regarding the participants’ perceptions of foreign language education and the policies of the PNB. Six students, five teachers, and four administrators were each interviewed twice using semi-structured interviews. To offer a critique of the PNB, this study tried to determine to what extent the school implemented the elements of Responsible ELT, a model developed by the researcher incorporating the concepts of hegemony of English, critical language-policy research, and resistance in ELT.

Findings included the following: (a) students and teachers saw English as the universal language whereas most administrators saw English imposed due to political and economic reasons; (b) some teachers misinterpreted the 1994 General Law of Education mandating the teaching of a foreign language as a law mandating English; and (c) some teachers and administrators saw the PNB’s adoption of competence standards based on the Common European Framework of Reference for languages as beneficial whereas others saw it as arbitrary.

Conclusions derived from this study of this Escuela Nueva school were: (a) most participants found the goal of the PNB unrealistic; (b) most teachers and administrators saw the policies of the PNB as top-down policies without assessment or continuity; and (c) teachers and administrators mentioned a disarticulation between elementary and high school ELT policies that may be discouraging students in public schools from learning English. Thus, this study suggests that the policies of the PNB may be contributing to English becoming a gatekeeper for higher education and employment thereby becoming a tool for sustaining inequality in Colombia.





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