The dark side of TESOL: the hidden costs of the consumption of English

Ingrid Piller, Kimie Takahashi, Yukinori Watanabe

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Based on case studies from Japan and South Korea, this review paper explores the hidden costs of English language learning (ELL). In a context where English has become a commodity and ELL a form of consumption, we focus on the personal and social costs of (a) studying abroad as a much-touted path to “native-like” proficiency and (b) sexualization of language teaching materials in order to reach new niche markets. The hidden costs of ELL are embedded in language ideologies which set English up as a magical means of self-transformation and, at the same time, an unattainable goal for most Japanese and Koreans. We end with the call to expose debilitating language ideologies in order to shed light on the hidden costs of ELL.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)183-201
    Number of pages19
    JournalCross-cultural studies
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • TESOL
    • English-as-a-global language
    • Korea
    • English Language Learning (ELL)
    • English Language Teaching (ELT) industry
    • language-as-commodity
    • language consumption
    • language desire
    • study abroad
    • English Language Teaching (ELT) materials
    • Japan


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