Monetary and Career based Motives at the Core of EFL Programs: Problems and Solutions

  • Christian Fallas Escobar Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica
  • Johanna Ennser-Kananen Boston University
  • Martha Bigelow University of Minnesota
Keywords: Commodification of English, corporate-oriented English teaching and learning, critical discussions, diversifying EFL curriculum


In this paper, we discuss the dominant discourses that use monetary and careerbased reasons to justify the learning and teaching of English in Costa Rica by drawing parallels to similar phenomena taking place in Japan, Korea, Canada, and Colombia. We argue that the propagation of these discourses has resulted in
the commodification of EFL teaching and learning in Costa Rica, as programs are designed to meet narrow material-based interests and purposes. The reflection includes an analysis of publicity around EFL learning, a national initiative to improve EFL teaching/learning, a specific EFL program in a public Costa Rican
university, and the opinions of students from this program. We demonstrate how the construction of English as the means by which professionalism, economic growth, and wealth can be accomplished has shaped EFL curricula in particular ways, thereby neglecting diverse motivations for EFL learning. We finish the paper by advocating for the creation of more democratic spaces in EFL classrooms where both teachers and learners can critique in constructive ways the impact that these dominant discourses have on themselves as individuals and on EFL curricular at large.


Author Biography

Christian Fallas Escobar, Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica

Cristhian Fallas Escobar holds an M.A. in Second Languages and Cultures from Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, and a Certificate in Teacher Training from the School of International Training. He has been an EFL instructor for over fourteen years and currently works for the School of Literature and Language Sciences at the Universidad Nacional, Costa Rica. Among his research interests are critical thinking, reflective teaching, composition and rhetoric, multiculturalism & multilingualism, language ideologies, justice and equity in Education, and the intersection between economics, politics and EFL. He has co-authored a textbook for EFL and published several papers dealing with translanguaging in EFL contexts, bilingual approaches to EFL teaching, bilingualism and the spread of English in Latin America, and neoliberal discourses and their connection to the rise of EFL.

How to Cite
Fallas Escobar, C., Ennser-Kananen, J., & Bigelow, M. (2016). Monetary and Career based Motives at the Core of EFL Programs: Problems and Solutions. GIST – Education and Learning Research Journal, (12), 152-173.
Reflective Articles
Crossref Cited-by logo