English in public primary schools in Colombia: Achievements and challenges brought about by national language education policies


  • Doris Correa Universidad de Antioquia
  • Adriana González Universidad de Antioquia




bbilingualism, Colombia, English, ESL, EFL, language policy, primary education


In an effort to become more competitive in the global market, Colombia, as many other Latin American countries, has declared English the dominant foreign language to be taught in schools and universities across the country. To support this measure, in the last 16 years, the government, through its National Ministry of Education, has launched a series of programs such as National Program of Bilingualism 2004-2019; the Program for Strengthening the Development of Competences in Foreign Languages; The National English Program: Colombia Very Well 2015-2025; and most recently, Bilingual Colombia 2014-2018. Results from studies conducted by local researchers across the country suggest that the regulation has posed a series of challenges for public primary school teachers, which these programs have not been able to address. These challenges can be divided into two categories: professional and work related. The purpose of this article is twofold: First, the article intends to provide a critical overview of the four programs that the Colombian government has launched since 2004. Second, the article aims to present some conclusions and recommendations for language policy design and implementation in Colombia.


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Author Biographies

Doris Correa, Universidad de Antioquia

Doris Correa holds a Doctorate degree in Language, Literacy and Culture from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Currently, she works as an Associate Professor at the School of Languages, Universidad de Antioquia, in Medellín, Colombia. Her research interests include English language policy and education reform, and SFL genre-based theories as tools to both analyze policy texts and to develop EFL teachers and students’ critical literacy. 


Adriana González, Universidad de Antioquia

Adriana González holds a doctoral degree in Linguistics from State University of New York at Stony Brook. She is a professor in the graduate and undergraduate programs in foreign language teacher education at Universidad de Antioquia. Her areas of search and publications focus on teachers’ professional development and language policies.




How to Cite

Correa, D., & González, A. (2016). English in public primary schools in Colombia: Achievements and challenges brought about by national language education policies. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 24, 83. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.24.2459



English Language Teaching in Public Primary Schools in Latin America