Volume 32, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1461-0213
  • E-ISSN: 1570-5595



There has been a rapid global expansion of English instruction in the early grades in public school curricula. Particularly in so-called developing countries, the increase of and its shift from exclusively private to public education is linked to the idea that acquiring English promotes personal, social, and economic development. The author takes one case of a recent early English program, the national program in Mexico, and argues that it is a representative case of a language education programme and policy organized around neoliberal principles. The policy’s stated goal is to address issues of access and equity for public school students; however, findings indicate that the actual processes of teaching and learning at the classroom level remain highly stratified across social class lines. An analysis of English lessons in schools at different points on the socioeconomic spectrum illustrates that instruction is preparing children with certain types of skills and dispositions congruent to their class position and revealing the hidden curriculum of work in early English education.

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