English as a gatekeeper

Power through discourses in a Language Introduction Program


  • Jenny Bergström Umeå university


Power, English education, Discourses, Organization, Governmentality, newly arrived students


This paper investigates power structures in English-language education within Sweden's Language Introduction Program (LIP). In Swedish society, a high proficiency in English plays an important role in accessing further education and the job market. Inadequate proficiency in English can lead to inequality in education, and thus to inequality in society in a long-term perspective. The methodology of this study is based on linguistic ethnography using interview data from seven semi-structured individual interviews with principals, mentors, a student counselor, and a special-needs educator involved in LIP at a Swedish school. Foucauldian perspectives of power and Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis are used to examine power structures and language ideologies within the organization. The results show how LIP’s organizational structures disadvantage the international language of English. Furthermore, power structures of governmentality within the organization steer students towards vocational programs rather than of theoretical programs



2024-03-18 — Updated on 2024-06-10


How to Cite

Bergström, J. (2024). English as a gatekeeper: Power through discourses in a Language Introduction Program. Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies, 18(1), 21–44. https://doi.org/10.47862/apples.136066 (Original work published March 18, 2024)