Social Class Systems in Communicative Language Teaching in Bangladesh

  • S. M. Ariful IslamEmail author
Part of the Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects book series (EDAP, volume 44)


Among significant pedagogical and policy reforms in the late 1990s in language-in-education policy in Bangladesh, communicative language teaching (CLT) replaced the previous grammar translation method (GTM). This nationwide policy change was intended for equal application to all schools across all socio-economic classes. Similar to social classes and their relation to the economic condition of people, schools in Bangladesh are stratified in relation to economic conditions, teachers’ qualifications, classroom teaching practices and the overall pass rate in the national school-leaving examinations. In a given society, high-performing schools with higher socio-economic conditions have a higher pass rate in contrast to the low pass rate of the low-performing schools with lower socio-economic conditions. Far from being democratic, education in general and English learning in particular become representative of the socio-economic conditions of both people and schools, which creates and sustains a social distance among them. This chapter shows how CLT implementation, much on the contrary to the constitutional declaration, exacerbates existing school stratification and works as a hegemonic tool for social reproduction through institutional practices. In investigating this question, this paper follows a historical-structural approach (Tollefson, An introduction to language policy: Theory and practice. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, pp. 42–59, 2006; Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning, vol. 2. Routledge, New York, pp. 801–816, 2011) influenced by critical theory of social inequality and hegemony (including the works of Bourdieu, Language and symbolic power. Polity Press, Oxford, 1991; Foucault, The archaeology of knowledge. Pantheon, New York, 1972) in language policy. Using mixed methods, data were collected through classroom observation of class 10 from seven schools, semi-structured interviews with seven English teachers and survey questionnaires from 231 students. Qualitative and quantitative data analysis shows significant qualitative difference in teaching English communicatively among schools with diverse socio-economic circumstances.


Communicative language teaching (CLT) Social class Equality 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Culture and Global StudiesAalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark

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