The Potential of Linguistic Landscapes for the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language in Cuenca, Ecuador


  • Tammy Fajardo-Dack
  • Juanita Argudo-Serrano
  • Monica Abad-Célleri
  • Paúl Ordóñez Alvarado


linguistic landscapes; language learning; English; public space


Linguistic landscapes have been studied for different purposes, being one of them language learning. They could be considered pedagogical tools for learning a foreign language, specifically English, in multilingual and multicultural contexts. Cuenca, a multicultural city in the south of Ecuador was the site for this study. The linguistic landscape of the city has gone through changes during the last two decades. There are several possible reasons for this transformation, but special attention is given to those related to tourism and the arrival of foreign residents who have come to Cuenca, a place considered one of the best in the world to visit and/or live. The aim of this descriptive study is to systematically analyze the linguistic landscape of two selected areas of Cuenca with the purpose of portraying the potential it holds as a public space for learning English. Data collection was conducted by means of systematic observation and digital photography. A total of 200 photographs were collected, recorded, coded, and analyzed. The analysis revealed the presence of seven languages in the landscape of the city, with English being the most predominant. The study highlights the potential of linguistic landscapes as a pedagogical tool for language learning and suggests implications for educators and policymakers.


Alm, C. O. (2003). English in the Ecuadorian commercial context. World Englishes, 22(2), 143–158.

Backhaus, P. (2006). Linguistic landscapes: A comparative study of urban multilingualism in Tokyo. Multilingual Matters.

Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2006). Linguistic landscape and minority languages. International Journal of Multilingualism, 3(1), 67-80.

Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2008). Linguistic landscape as an additional source of input in second language acquisition. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching (IRAL), 46, 257–276.

Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2009) Language economy and linguistic landscape. In E. Shohamy & D. Gorter (Eds.), Linguistic Landscape: Expanding the Scenery (pp. 55–69). Routledge.

Constitución de la República del Ecuador (2008). Constitución de la República

a. del Ecuador. Asamblea Nacional. Registro Oficial 449 [Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador. National Assembly. Official Registry 449].

Dagenais, D., Moore, D., Sabatier, C., Lamarre, P., & Armand, F. (2009). Linguistic Landscape and Language Awareness. In E. Shohamy and D. Gorter (Eds.), Linguistic Landscape: Expanding the Scenery (253–269). Routledge.

Dong, J., Peng, M., & Uddin, M. G. (2020). Mapping the Linguistic Landscape of the Cultural Heritage Sites and Tourist Spots in Bangladesh. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 8, 228-244.

Enríquez Duque, P. (2020). Nombres comerciales en Kichwa: una comodificación y explotación cultural del uso de la lengua [Kichwa Brand Names in Quito: A Case of Language Commodification and Cultural Exploitation] [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, The United States.

Farfán Pacheco, K. (2020). Dinámicas espaciales y turismo en el centro histórico de Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca a partir de la declaratoria como Patrimonio Cultural de la Humanidad [Spatial dynamics and tourism in the historic downtown in the city of Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca thereafter its Act of Declaration as a World Heritage Site]. [Doctoral dissertation]. Universitat de les Illes Baleares, Spain.

García, M., Osorio, P., & Pastor, L. (2017). Estudio sobre los impactos socio-económicos en Cuenca de la migración residencial de norteamericanos y europeos: aportes para una convivencia armónica local [Study on the socio-economic impact of residential migration of North Americans and Europeans in Cuenca: contributions for a harmonious local coexistence]. GAD Municipal del Cantón Cuenca [Municipal Government of Cuenca Canton].

Gorter, D. (2013). Linguistic landscapes in a multilingual world. ARAL –Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 33, 190–212.

Gorter, D., Cenoz, J., & van der Worp, K. (2021) The linguistic landscape as a resource for language learning and raising language awareness. Journal of Spanish Language Teaching, 8 (2), 161-181.

Gorter, D., & Cenoz, J. (2024). A panorama of linguistic landscape studies. Multilingual Matters.

Grin, F. (2007). Economics and language policy. In M. Hellinger & A. Pauwels (Eds.),

Handbook of Language and Communication: Diversity and Change (pp. 271–297). Mouton de Gruyter.

Hatoss, A. (2023). Everyday multilingualism : linguistic landscapes as practice and pedagogy. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Hasni, N. A., Shak, M. S. Y., Malik, N. A., & Anuarudin, A. A. S. (2022). Linguistic landscape of tourist spaces from 2014 to 2022: A Review. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 12(10), 1695–1708.

Handiyah, M. Z., & Arts, F. O. F. (2019). A Linguistic Landscape of Tourist Spaces: Multilingual Signs in Surabaya and Mojokerto’s Heritage Sites. [Thesis]. Universitas Islam Negeri Sunan Ampel Surabaya.

Heller, M. (2010). Language as resource in the globalized new economy. In N. Coupland (Ed.), The Handbook of Language and Globalization (pp. 347–365). Wiley-Blackwell

Hernández Sampieri, R., & Mendoza Torres, C. P. (2023) Metodología de la investigación: Las rutas cuantitativa, cualitativa y mixta. Segunda Edición [Research methodology: the quantitative, qualitative and mixed routes. Second Edition]. McGrawHill.

Huebner, T. (2016). Linguistic landscape: History, trajectory and pedagogy. Manusya: Journal of the Humanities, 19(3), 1-11.

INEC (2024, February 1). Población y Demografía [Population and Demographics]. INEC.

International Living (2023, December 5). Best places to retire in 2023: The annual global retirement index. International Living.

Järlehed, J., Milani, T. M., & Rosendal, T. (2023). Introducing the political economy of language in place/space. Linguistic Landscape, 9(3), 219–225.

Kallen, J. (2023). Linguistic Landscapes: A Sociolinguistic Approach. Cambridge University Press.

Katz, R. (2019). Linguistic Landscape Analysis of La Plaza de Ponchos in Otavalo, Ecuador. [Unpublished thesis]. Swarthmore College

Landry, R., & Bourhis, R. Y. (1997). Linguistic landscape and ethnolinguistic vitality: An empirical study. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 16(1), 23–49.

Lavender, J. (2020). English in Ecuador: a look into the linguistic landscape of Azogues. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 41(5), 383-405.

Leeman, J., & Modan, G. (2010). Selling the city: Language, ethnicity and commodified space. In E. Shohamy, Ben Rafael, E., & Barni, M. (Eds.), Linguistic landscape in the city (pp. 182–198). Multilingual Matters.

Litzenberg, J. (2018). ‘Official language for intercultural ties’: Cultural concessions and strategic roles of Ecuadorian Kichwa in developing institutional identities. Linguistic Landscape, 4(2), 153–177.

Li, W., Fu, X., He, Q., & Lu, J. (2020). The influence of linguistic landscape on English learning: a case study of Shenzhen city. English Literature and Language Review, 6(7), 119-132.

Lou, J.J. (2016, April). Ways of Walking, Ways of Seeing: Doing Mobile Video Ethnography Linguistic Landscape Research. [Conference presentation abstract]. Colloquium linguistic landscape analysis and the representation of visual data AAAL, Orlando, FL, United States.

Mackey, A., & Gass, S. M. (2022). Second Language Research: Methodology and Design. (3rd Edition). Routledge.

Naula Herembás, P. (2023, January 22). Cuenca se ratifica como ciudad para jubilados extranjeros [Cuenca ratifies its position as a city for foreign retirees]. El Mercurio.

Precedo Ledo, A. (1996). Ciudad y desarrollo urbano [City and urban development]. Editorial Síntesis.

Puma Ninacuri, C., & Narváez, D. (2021). Linguistic Landscape in Otavalo. Kichwa, Spanish or English? In: P. Gubitosi & M. F. Ramos Pellicia (Eds.), Linguistic Landscape in the Spanish-speaking world (pp. 313-340). John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Rola, H. (2019). Impact of visual pollution at the entrances of coastal cities in Lebanon. European Scientific Journal, 15(17), 16-27.

Rowland, L. (2013) The pedagogical benefits of a linguistic landscape project in Japan. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 16 (4), 494-505,

Sayer, P. (2010). Using the linguistic landscape as a pedagogical resource. ELT Journal, 64 (2), 143–154.

Shohamy, E., & Waksman, S. (2009). Linguistic landscape as an ecological arena: Modalities, meanings, negotiations, education. In E. Shohamy and D. Gorter (Eds.), Linguistic Landscape: Expanding the Scenery (313-331). Routledge.

Shohamy, E., Ben-Rafael, E., & Barni, M. (2010). Introduction: An approach to an ‘ordered disorder’. In E. Shohamy, Ben Rafael, E., & Barni, M. (Eds.), Linguistic landscape in the city (pp. xi-xxviii). Multilingual Matters.

UNESCO (2023, 04 December). Lista del patrimonio mundial [List of world heritage]. UNESCO World Heritage Convention.

Wroblewski, M. (2020). Inscribing indigeneity: Ethnolinguistic authority in the linguistic landscape of Amazonian Ecuador. Multilingua, 39(2), 139–168.

Zambrano, I., Imbaquingo, J., & Cortés, M. P. (2020, May 29). El uso del Kichwa en productos alimenticios en el paisaje lingüístico de Quito urbano [The use of Kichwa in food products in the linguistic landscape of urban Quito] [Conference presentation]. Congreso Internacional: Paisaje lingüístico de ida y vuelta: Berna y Quito en contraste ¿Sumak Kawsay o mercantilización? [International Congress: The linguistic landscape back and forth: Berna and Quito in contrast: Sumak Kawsay or commodification?], Quito, Ecuador.




Most read articles by the same author(s)