Language Education, Gender, and Sexuality

Benedict Rowlett*, Brian W. King

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In this chapter we provide an overview of theory and research conducted over the past few decades on language education and gender. In addition, we bring this overview of the field up to date by including more recent work on sexuality. We draw attention to some major contributions that have taken a discourse approach to language education/learning, gender, and sexuality, treating gender and sexuality as discursive constructions rather than variables. These studies have looked at how gender and sexuality impact language-learning processes in a variety of local contexts, both inside and outside of the classroom, in terms of positioning, access to linguistic resources, and learner investment and agency. We also highlight research that examines the gendered experiences of language teaching professionals, broadening our understanding of gender and sexuality in the intercultural world of language teaching. In the later sections, we focus on ongoing concerns related to the global economy and language education, especially with regard to the intersections of social class, gender, and sexuality. In these sections we also discuss the often uncomfortable position of the language, gender, and sexuality researcher in accessing and representing subjugated knowledges from the margins. In this way and in accordance with the need to focus on the largely ignored issue of social class in applied linguistics, we suggest shifting our attention to exploring the notion of gendered and sexual “symbolic competence” among multilingual learners operating in local and contingent settings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLanguage Policy and Political Issues in Education
EditorsTeresa L. McCarty, Stephen May
PublisherSpringer Cham
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9783319023434
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2017

Publication series

NameEncyclopedia of Language and Education

User-Defined Keywords

  • Gender
  • Sexuality
  • Discursive practices
  • Subjugated knowledges
  • Symbolic competence


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