Robert J. Fouser - Cold War Cosmopolitanism and Theorization of “Culture” and of the “Native Speaker” in Foreign Language Education in the United States from 1945-1970

Réalisation : 9 juin 2021 Mise en ligne : 9 juin 2021
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Inthis paper, I will explore the relationship between Cold War cosmopolitanismand theorization of the role of culture and of the “native speaker” in foreignlanguage education from 1945 to 1970. The term “Cold War cosmopolitanism” comesfrom the research by Klein (2003, 2020) on cultural exchanges between the USand Asian countries during the immediate postwar period. Klein argued that toexert its influence in Asia amid competition with the Soviet Union, the USgovernment promoted cultural exchange, both overtly and covertly, between theUS and Asia to strengthen its hand in the competition with the Soviet Union. Similarcultural exchanges were promoted with Western European countries, particularlyWest Germany and Italy, and throughout Latin America. Cosmopolitanism waspromoted to counter the isolationist tendencies that prevailed in the 1920s and1930s. It also informed the development of more specialized area studiesprograms in US universities, such as Chinese and Japanese studies, whichincluded language teaching and scholarly exchange.


Theteaching of foreign languages and cultural exchange were viewed as an essentialelement in building cosmopolitan solidarity and, from 1946 to 1961, a series ofpolicies, which culminated in the The Mutual Educational and Cultural ExchangeAct of 1961(Fulbright–Hays Act), were implemented to promote these goals. Asthe cosmopolitan zeitgeist spread, Audiolingual theorists, such as Charles C. Friesand his protégé Robert Lado, elevated the place of “culture,” which ranges fromhigh culture to material culture to everyday mores, in language teaching. Theprimacy of the native speaker, defined as an educated speaker of the “standard”variety of language, in Audiolingual theory led to a focus on the nativespeaker as a repository of culture, particularly as it related to everydaymores and social norms. The importance of the native speaker as a model ofspoken language and as a source of cultural knowledge, stimulated efforts tobring learners in contact with native speakers in the US and by sending themabroad for various learning experiences. Examples of these efforts include thedevelopment of language houses on US university campuses, study abroadprograms, student exchange programs, and teacher exchange programs.


Many of the practices established duringthis period remain an integral part of language education in the US,particularly at the university level.

Theresearch draws on a variety of primary and secondary sources from the period,such as scholarly articles, policy documents, new reports, and professionalnewsletter articles to show how researchers, practitioners, and policy makersdeveloped and applied theories regarding the importance of culture and the roleof the native speakers in the broader project of promoting cosmopolitansolidarity between the US and its allies/client states during the height of theCold War.


Selected References:


Coombs,P. H. (1964). The fourth dimension of foreign policy: Educational andcultural affairs. New York: Harper & Row.


Fries,C. C. (1945). Teaching and learning English as a foreign language. AnnArbor: Univ. of Michigan Press.


Klein,C. (2003). Cold War orientalism: Asia in the middlebrow imagination,1945-1961. Berkeley, Calif: Univ. of California Press.


Klein, C. (2020). Cold warcosmopolitanism: Period style in 1950s Korean cinema. Berkeley, Calif: Univ. of CaliforniaPress. DOI:


Lado,R. (1964). Language teaching, a scientific approach. New York,McGraw-Hill.


Parker,W. R., U.S. National Commission for UNESCO., & United States. (1957). Thenational interest and foreign languages: A discussion guide and work paper.Washington, D.C: G.P.O.

Langues :
Anglais, Français
Jean Philippe [MSH-Val de Loire] CORBELLINI (Réalisation)
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Citer cette ressource:
DYNADIV. (2021, 9 juin). Robert J. Fouser - Cold War Cosmopolitanism and Theorization of “Culture” and of the “Native Speaker” in Foreign Language Education in the United States from 1945-1970. [Vidéo]. Canal-U. (Consultée le 27 mai 2022)

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