The Grammar of Neoliberalism: What Textbooks Reveal About the Education of Spanish Speakers in Mexico, Colombia, and the United States

  • Andrés Ramírez
  • Cristobal Salinas
Part of the Intercultural Studies in Education book series (ISE)


Emergent to Advanced Bilingual Students (EABs), also known as English Language Learner Students (ELLs), are both the fastest growing group in the United States and the ones with lower academic performance. Spanish speakers account for around 78–80% of all EABs. All too often, EABs who are fortunate to receive quality bilingual education receive instruction based on mirror texts; that is, texts that are direct translation from its English counterparts (Ramírez et al, 2016). In this chapter, we present a brief analysis of the textbook market in the USA, Colombia and Mexico, complemented with a linguistic analysis of the patterns dominant in three 3rd grade science curricular units written in Spanish on the same topic in the three countries. Two of these units were written for regular educational curriculum programs in Colombia and Mexico. The third one is a text used in dual language English/Spanish bilingual programs in the USA that is directly translated from the English textbook version. The macroanalysis reveals a strong market-based neoliberal influence on the textbook used in the USA. At the micro level, the comparative systemic functional linguistic analysis of these three texts reveals the distinct linguistic organization of the mirror text in relation to the other two. Key implications for teacher’s role in the classroom, for teacher preparation programs, and for the education of Spanish speakers in these three countries with special attention to bilingual students in the USA are addressed.


Textbook analysis Dual language programs Systemic Functional Linguistics Deskilling of teachers Science Emergent to Advanced Bilingual Students 


  1. Bernstein, B. B. (2000). Pedagogy, symbolic control, and identity: Theory, research, critique. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
  2. Bluestone, M. (2015). U.S. publishing industry annual survey reveals $28 billion in revenue in 2014. Association of American Publishers. Retrieved September 18, 2016, from
  3. Bowen, J. (1975). A history of western education: Civilization of Europe, sixth to sixteenth century (2nd ed.). New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  4. Brisk, M. E. (2015). Engaging students in academic literacies: Genre-based pedagogy for K-5 classrooms. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Chamizo, J. (2005). The teaching of natural sciences in Mexico: New programs and textbooks for elementary school. Science Education International, 30(4), 271–279.Google Scholar
  6. Collier, V. P., & Thomas, W. P. (2009). Educating English learners for a transformed world. Albuquerque: Dual Language Education of New Mexico – Fuente Press.Google Scholar
  7. de Oliveira, L. C., & Iddings, J. (2014). Genre pedagogy across the curriculum: Theory and application in U.S. classrooms and contexts. Sheffield/Bristol: Equinox.Google Scholar
  8. Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York: The Macmillan company.Google Scholar
  9. Deyfus, S. et al. (2016). Genre pedagogy in higher education. The SLATE project. London: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  10. Elson, R. M. (1964). Guardians of tradition, American schoolbooks of the nineteenth century. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  11. Figueredo, G. (2014). Uma metodologia de perfilhação gramatical sistêmica baseada em corpus. Letras & Letras, 30 (2), 17–45.Google Scholar
  12. Figueredo, G. (2015). Um estudo do conjunto multilíngue Interpessoal português brasileiro/inglês Subsidiado pelos estudos da tradução e pela Linguística sistêmico funcional. Florianópolis, 35(1), 139–166.Google Scholar
  13. Gebhard, M., & Harman, R. (2011). Reconsidering genre theory in K-12 schools: A response to school reforms in the United States. Journal of Second Language Writing, 20, 45–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Giroux, H. (1981). Ideology, culture and the process of schooling. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Halliday, M. A. K., & Matthiessen, C. M. I. M. (2004). An introduction to functional grammar (3rd ed.). London/New York: Arnold.Google Scholar
  16. Hamel, R. (2008). Bilingual education for indigenous communities in Mexico. In N. Hornberger (Ed.), Encyclopedia of language and education (pp. 1747–1758). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  17. Kartika Ningsih, H. (2015). Multilingual re-instantiation: Genre pedagogy in Indonesian classrooms. Sydney: University of Sydney.Google Scholar
  18. Martin, J. R., & Rose, D. (2007). Working with discourse: Meaning beyond the clause (2nd ed.). London/New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  19. Maton, K. (2014). Knowledge and knowers: Towards a realist sociology of education. Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Milner, R. (2014). Scripted and narrowed curriculum reform in urban schools. Urban Education, 49, 743–749.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Moore, J., & Schleppegrell, M. (2014). Using a functional linguistics metalanguage to support academic language development in the English language arts. Linguistics and Education, 26, 92–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Naranjo, G., & Candela, A. (2006). Saberes docentes en las clases de ciencias en las que se integra un alumno ciego. Revista Mexicana de Investigación Educativa, 11 (30), 821–845.Google Scholar
  23. National Institute for Direct Instruction. (2016). Reading mastery signature edition. Retrieved December 16, 2016, from
  24. Pestalozzi, J. H. (1898). How Gertrude teaches her children: An attempt to help mothers to teach their own children and an account of the method. London: C.W. Bardeen.Google Scholar
  25. Ramírez, A. (2014). Genre-based principles in a content-based English as a second language classroom. In L. C. de Oliveira & J. Iddings (Eds.), Genre pedagogy across the curriculum: Theory and application in U.S. classrooms and contexts. Sheffield/Bristol: Equinox.Google Scholar
  26. Ramírez, A., Sembiante, S., & de Oliveira, L. (2016, July). Multilingual meaning potential: Spanish/English academic texts in dual language programs in the U.S. International Systemic Functional Linguistics. Paper presented at Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia. Bandung.Google Scholar
  27. Ramírez, A., Sembiante, S., & de Oliveira, L. (in preparation). The textbook and the deskilling of teachers’ work: An English-Spanish comparative functional linguistic analysis.Google Scholar
  28. Romero, L. (2016). Textos Escolares: Un Negocio en Debate. El Espectador: Bogotá. Retrieved December 15, 2017, from
  29. Rose, D., & Martin, J. R. (2012). Learning to write, reading to learn: Genre, knowledge and pedagogy in the Sydney school. Sheffield/Bristol: Equinox.Google Scholar
  30. Sayer, P., & Lopez Gopar, M. (2015). Language education in Mexico. In W. E. Wright, S. Boun, & O. García (Eds.), Handbook of bilingual and multilingual education (pp. 578–591). Oxford: Wiley.Google Scholar
  31. UNESCO. (2016). Education: Expenditure on education as % of GDP. Institute for statistics. Retrieved December 15, 2016, from
  32. Wakefield, J. (1998, June). A brief history of textbooks: Where have we been all these years? Paper presented at the Meeting of the Text and Academic Authors. St. Petersburg.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrés Ramírez
    • 1
  • Cristobal Salinas
    • 1
  1. 1.Florida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA

Personalised recommendations