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In search of greener grass : finding the path from English hegemony to multilingualism



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This thesis investigates the meaning of English language hegemony as I, the researcher, have experienced it. Using an autoethnographic method, I recount stories of multilingual language learning that uncover the themes of hegemony (Gramsci, 1992), unilateral power (Loomer, 1976) and privilege as they relate to the English language in the world today. These stories are drawn from a lifetime of language learning in different multilingual envi-ronments: from experiences of informal language learning in the home, formal education in different languages throughout childhood and adolescence, and finally adult experiences of language learning as an English language teacher and member of a bilingual household. With the narrative material as a basis, I highlight the interrelated concepts of he-gemony, unilateral power and privilege in these experiences of language learning. I take a critical stance in my investigation and analysis of the hegemony, unilateral power and privi-lege that the English language enjoys at the expense of other languages. I examine the meaning of these concepts and how they have affected my understanding of language as a native English speaker, language learner and English language teacher, in Canada and abroad. As an alternative to the hegemony of English, I propose a counter-hegemonic ap-proach: learning about language and culture in relationship with others in communities where linguistic diversity and multilingualism are genuinely accepted, and not merely per-ceived, as valuable. I suggest that multilingualism and language learning are vital for native English speakers to understand alternative perspectives of our world, and in order for them to experience a transformation in their grasp of linguistic and cultural diversity.



privilege, power, language learning, education, community



Master of Education (M.Ed.)


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