The politics of language: The case of national examinations in English in Russia

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This article analyses discussions in the Russian media of the proposal to introduce the Unified State Exam (USE) in English as a mandatory test in the last year of (high) school education 2010s. The decision not to implement the mandatory USE in English was taken in August 2020. In the aftermath of the decision, we investigate the decade-long media debates. Building methodologically on frame analysis, we examine the frames used in the online media to present the pros and cons of English testing, and the qualitative modifications of these frames over time. We argue that media coverage of English as a compulsory test parallelled changes in the politics of nation-building and language policies. First it reflected the idea of Russia as a global economic actor, striving to reap the benefits of a global economy, and framed the acquisition of English as part of the global economic and political community. However, as the state’s prerogatives changed, English began to be discussed as a threat to national unity, national security and the mastery of Russian. Moreover, the ‘national’ became associated, with separation from the rest of the world and its perceived threat.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Educational Research Journal
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Mar 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • foreign language teaching
  • frame analysis
  • media
  • nationalism
  • Unified State Exam

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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