Patriotism and patriarchy as obstacles to the adoption of reform methods in the English school system

Simon Coffey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Reform Movement has often been framed as a “[…] remarkable display of international and interdisciplinary co-operation […]” (Howatt 1984: 169), yet adoption of the Movement’s core principle that “[…] the spoken language should be emphasized […]” (Howatt and Smith 2002: ix) met with considerable opposition in the teaching of modern languages in English schools and universities. In this paper I consider how the aims of the Reform were circulated and debated in England through the newly established professional fora of conferences and journals and I examine these aims against the discursive and structural formations that inhibited the adoption of Reform methods. In particular, I focus on the cultural belief that ‘speaking’ foreign languages was ”[…] unmanly, even unpatriotic” (Bayley 1998: 56; Cohen 2003) and on the concomitant institutional bias against native-speakers (McLelland 2018) as the teaching profession anglicized at the end of the 19th century (Radford 1985), consciously seeking to match the prestige of the classics through emphasizing modern languages as a liberal rather than a utilitarian discipline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-186
Number of pages19
JournalLanguage and History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • English education system
  • patriarchy
  • patriotism
  • professionalisation of teaching
  • Reform Movement (RM)


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