Robert Phillipson (1942 - )

Phillipson Robert

Short Biography & Significant Contribution

Robert Phillipson is currently professor emeritus in the Department of International Language Studies and Computational Linguistics at the Copenhagen Business School. His professional career is a harmonious blend of academic research and practical experience. Born in the United Kingdom in 1942, Phillipson obtained master's degrees at Cambridge and Leeds University, later followed by a doctorate degree in Education from the University of Amsterdam in 1990. Phillipson's background is largely language related, with his master's degrees being in Modern Languages and Linguistics and English Language Teaching. Before joining the ranks of university professors, Phillipson worked for the British Council for almost a decade, assisting with teacher training, the English-Teaching Information Centre and working as a British Institute Lecturer and English Language Officer. He was employed as a professor of English and language pedagogy at Roskilde University in Denmark in 1973 and has since held numerous university positions at multiple institutions.

Phillipson has done extensive research on linguistics, language education, and the role of English worldwide. It is the way that Phillipson approaches language that makes his research and work important to the field of Comparative and International Education. Much of his work deals with language as power and a human right, rather than simply a linguistic fact. Tied closely to this idea of language as an important part of identity is what he describes as linguistic imperialism, particularly in regards to the spread of English throughout the world. Phillipson also deals extensively with language education policy and second language pedagogy, both of which contribute significantly to Comparative and International Education as it relates to language pedagogy and the teaching of foreign or multiple languages. He supports educational policies that maintain the linguistic diversity of Europe while taking into account sociolinguistic realities, principles, and efficiency. Phillipson continues to make contributions to the field by publishing new findings and serving on multiple language advisory boards that make important language policy decisions.

Educational Background

B.A. in Modern Languages (French and German), Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, 1961-1964
M.A., Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, 1967
M.A. in Linguistics and English Language Teaching, Leeds University, 1968-1969 
Ph.D. with distinction in Faculty of Education, University of Amsterdam, 1990

Professional Background

British Council, 1964-1973 (Teacher training, British Institute Lecturer, English Language Officer, English-Teaching Information Centre)
Department of Languages and Culture, Roskilde University, Denmark 1973-2000 (associate professor in English and language pedagogy)
University of Copenhagen, Department of English, 1973-1984 (part-time lecturer in phonetics and applied linguistics, Project on Foreign Language Pedagogy)
Visiting Scholar at Institute of Education, University of London, 1983; University of Melbourne, Australia, 1994; Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, 1995; University of Pecs, Hungary, 1996; University of Cambridge, Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, 2005
Professor emeritus, Department of International Language Studies and Computational Linguistics, Copenhagen Business School, 2000-present

Affiliations (associations, organizations, institutions)

Expert for European Commission, Directorate General for Research
Board Member: Danish Centre for Human Rights, 1993-2000; European Language Council, 1997-2001; Terralingua advisory committee, 1999-2003; Advisory Council of the EU Turkey Civic Commission
Member of Editorial Advisory Board: Language Problems and Language Planning; Journal of Language, Identity and Education; Imperium; Porta Linguarum; Asian EFL Journal

Selected Publications

Phillipson, Robert 2009. Linguistic imperialism continued. New York and London: Routledge.

Mohanty, Ajit, Minati Panda, Robert Phillipson and Tove Skutnabb-Kangas (eds.) 2009. Multilingual education for social justice: Globalising the local. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan.

Phillipson, Robert 2003. English-only Europe? Challenging language policy. London: Routledge.

Phillipson, Robert (ed.) 2000. Rights to language: equity, power and education, New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Miklós Kontra, Robert Phillipson, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas and Tibor Varadi (eds.) 1999. Language, a right and a resource. Approaching linguistic human rights. Budapest: Central European University Press.

Phillipson, R. (1996). Linguistic imperialism: African perspectives. ELT Journal,50(2), 160-167.

Tove Skutnabb-Kangas and Phillipson, Robert (eds., in collaboration with Mart Rannut) 1994. Linguistic human rights: overcoming linguistic discrimination. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Phillipson, Robert 1992. Linguistic imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Færch, Claus, Kirsten Haastrup and Robert Phillipson 1984. Learner language and language learning. Copenhagen: Gyldendal and Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.


Created: 11/28/2012

Updated: 12/4/2012

Contributed By: Allyson Baer, Lehigh University College of Education