Commodification of Foreign Languages in the Educational Space of Modern Russia

Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 11 (2015 8) 2596-2605

Veronica A. Razumovskaya
Siberian Federal University

The main purpose of the article is to show in diachronic and synchronic aspects foreign languages
teaching and learning within the educational space of Russia. A special attention is paid to English
as a foreign language (EFL), the presence of which in different educational paradigms is concerned
under the concept of globanglization and commodification of educational services. Both advantages
and disadvantages of the linguistic learning commodification as well as the future perspectives of the
linguistic lifelong learning paradigm are described.
Keywords: foreign languages learning, life long learning, the English language, globanglization,
The article is written with the financial support of the European Commission within the Tempus
IV programme (Project “Lifelong Language Learning University Centre Network for New Career
Opportunities and Personal Development (UNICO)”, № 544283-TEMPUS-1-2013-1-ES-TEMPUSJPHES).
DOI: 10.17516/1997-1370-2015-8-11-2596-2605.
Research area: pedagogy, philology.


The commodification
of linguistic education within
the era of globalization
and globanglization

Today a particular interest in linguistic
educational space in this country is given to
the English language that responds to present
tendencies to globalization and globanlization
(following in definition by V.V. Kabakchi).
Concerning the globanglization as the dominance
of the English language in different facets
[Kabakchi, 2009; 2011], we can indicate cases
of globanglization in the spheres of formal, nonformal
and informal education.
So, the spheres of formal and non-formal
education have a clear tendency to understanding
the English language as a commodity that leads

to concerns about the commodification of English
as a foreign language. This commonly accepted
term derives from the English word “commodity”
(goods) and means the process of market relations
interference into non-commercial spheres of
the human activity or turning of originally
unmarketed things into commodities.
The commodification is concerned to be a
general tendency in education. Thus, recently
educational processes in the world and in Russia
in particular are marked by the evident tendency
to commodification: the system of education is
being transformed into the system of services,
and the education itself is becoming a commodity.
Being an element of the structural and
institutional horizon? The education undergoes
an increasingly greater engagement into the
global processes together with the influence of
two main tendencies, i.e. commercialization
and unification. The commercialization and
commodification (these concepts are used within
the scientific discourse as synonyms or can be
axiologically differentiated [Lebedeva, 2014])
of education represents a trend on its turning
into one of the commodity types with all the
specific characteristics, i.e. of a better or worse
quality, introduced in a wide or limited range,
cheap or expensive, etc. Educational institutions
(particularly, professional ones) turns into a
certain firms or corporations manufacturing
and disposing educational services. In this
way, students are considered as companies’
customers or primary consumers of these
goods (the secondary consumer is the society).
The commodification of education presents the
result of the globalizing liberal model of social
and economic relations or the consequence of
the contemporary social and historical revenge
of the capital towards the society [Kardonova,
2007]. A Russian scientist, Alexander
Karpov, concerns commodification (as well as
commercialization) as a negative tendency in
education and analyses it as a mechanism of the
society destruction, “working” on the basis of
knowledge. The researcher put the difference
between the commodification of education and
science and marks the policy and practise of
their representation only in terms of commodity
relations. According to his point of view,
within the education performing as the system
of services, the pursuance of understanding
and interpretation of the human essence of the
subject along with the intention to build an
individual mental world and civic position are
slaked. That kind of education destructs not only
the growth points of the future but the society as
a community itself [Karpov, 2013]. In his earlier
works, the analyst expresses the same view as
V.S. Nikolskii [Nikolskii, 2010] and claims that
the conceptualization of education in the ideas
of “commodity” and “service” excludes from
its didactic ground the methods and matters
that form a creative personality characterized
by the research attitude to the reality, i.e. the
personality able to generate knowledge. Thus,
the protagonist of the society “working” on the
basis of knowledge appears to be out of such a
“commodity” vision. The commodifcation of
cognitive activities that has turned the knowledge
into a commodity, a thing for commercial use,
changes the way the education is organized
(bureaucracy) and understood (economical
pragmatism and commercial mimesis)
[Karpov, 2012]. Talking about the problems of
commodificational policy in foreign educational
sphere, the researcher highlights the fact that
the history of commercialization in European
education begins from the 13th century when the
academical trade of education and knowledge
(which in that time belonged to the God) through
teaching, nevertheless, received the supreme
sanction of the Church [Karpov, 2012: 87]. Later,
the commodification strategies in education were
grounded basically on the English-American

competitive model. American and European
reforms of the higher education are implemented
under the increase of academic contribution to
the growth estimated only by commodity and
monetary units.
Within the research field of economic
sociology – a comparatively new branch of
the science – commodification that initially
was criticized, now has become the object for
sociological studies aimed at analyzing the
reasons for the suspicion of sociologists related
to the commodification of crucial benefits;
at describing methodological changes in the
economic sociology against the backdrop of which
the scientific interest to this problematics is risen;
and at proposing the field of the topical research
problems and directions [Berdysheva, 2012].
The literature survey taken up by S.V. Lebedeva
shows that the term “commodification” is
mainly used in the cases when authors focuses
on the analysis and description of negative
tendencies appearing within the contacts of
business and scientific spheres: the corruption
strengthened by the knowledge codification, the
low quality of scientific researches in spin-off
companies, the increasing amount of service
functions performed by the science in the
prejudice of independent studies [Lebedeva,
2014]. Along with a severe criticism of this
phenomenon the modern scientific discourse
also possesses a standpoint of smoothing
the critics of commodification arising due to
the acceptance by the economical sociology
of the results obtained within the studies of
the social origin of commodities. They are
largely actualized within the framework of the
economic anthropology, which is the main focus
of economic sociologists under the process of a
productive scientific dialog formation [Aspers,
Darr, Kohl, 2011]. There is the understanding
that commodification is much flexible and
conditioned process and, thus, its potential can
be wider and are not determined on the “yes” or
“no” principle [Berdysheva, 2012: 74].
It is interesting to note that the consideration
the English language as a good in modern Russia
is not limited only by the Russian educational
space. Thus, the language plays the same role in
advertising texts (signs, labels, writings, designed
magazines, etc), that is a direct consequence of
globalization and globanglization.
As we see it, the English language
commodification undoubtedly has both positive
and negative effects. Thus, among the advantages
we mark the independence of proposed linguistic
academic programs and their increasing
availability for different social classes and age
groups. The educational service consumer is
offered an opportunity of a wide range of choice,
the right of which still depends on many aspects,
i.e. the service quality control, administrative
management through the procedures of
accreditation and licensing of academic programs
together with the social and mass media control.

The brief overview of the main tendencies in
foreign language acquisition within the Russian
educational space in synchronic and diachronic
ways allows us to claim that the evident demand
in a good command of foreign languages for
personal and business purposes, the gathered
international and national experience in foreign
languages teaching and acquisition, the current
levels in national education (they are formal, nonformal
and informal) together with the network
of educational institutions present or those which
are under the construction, proves potential of the
effective implementation of the LLL–paradigm.
Both in short and long-term perspectives one can
speak about the possibility of the specific LLLL
(or Language Lifelong Learning) paradigm
appearance: that means the linguistic education
throughout the life which can directly inspire
the future specialist to create several linguistic
personalities. Possessing different linguistic
personalities and having already built skills in
cross-cultural communication, a polylingual
professional will gain a high competitiveness
within both the national and international scales;
remarkably widen the part of international
communication in their personal and business
interaction. Misgivings about the risk for the
native language can be completely influenced by
the foreign one (the English language) are hardly
well-reasoned. The creation of the secondary
linguistic personality is undoubtedly can and
should assist the development of the primary
linguistic personality and personal characteristics
in general.

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