The weaponization of language training in U.S. foreign relations, 1941–1970

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


In 1964, the Stanford linguist Robert Politzer made a surprising claim in the pages of the Modern Language Journal. American linguists were then attaining unprecedented influence in the field of foreign-language teaching, promising dramatically improved results if teachers adhered to their methods and shaping classroom practices and materials from primary to postsecondary contexts. Politzer concluded that the reason for linguists’ influence was not, however, due to the merit of their ideas alone. “[Linguistic] theory by itself is perhaps not sufficient to shape pedagogical procedure,” he wrote. “[Above] all, our general attitude toward international communication [is] decisive.”1
Original languageEnglish
JournalDiplomatic History
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Dec 2020


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