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LANGUAGE & CULTURE ISSUES IN ASIAN ENGLISH-MEDIUM UNIVERSITIES Joseph Lo Bianco Prof. Language and Literacy Education The University of Melbourne
OUTLINE OF PAPER i) Settings & history variations: deeply shaping; ii) iii) English and global communication; Identity: National & Personal; iv) Positions: a) Accept & improve; b) Challenge & problematise.
i) UNESCO 1953 Iconic declaration; post-colonial context The Use of Vernacular Languages in Education “It is axiomatic that the best medium for teaching a child is his MT” • Psychologically. . . meaningful signs, expression & understanding; • Sociologically. . . means of identification with community; • Educationally. . . efficiency of knowledge gain. Recommended MT be used to as late in education as possible, beginning as early as possible
i) UNESCO 2003 3 PRINCIPLES 1. MT instruction for “improving educational quality” by “building on knowledge & experience of learners & teachers”; 2. Bi-lingual or multi-lingual education at all levels for “promoting social & gender equality”; 3. Mother tongue an “essential component of inter-cultural education” connected to “understanding between different population groups & respect for fundamental rights. ”
i) DUAL ROLE OF TEACHER INPUT In content programs lecturer’s linguistic input to learners (lesson classroom talk) serves three roles it is the: 1). . model of English that learners acquire (TL model); 2) … vehicle for content (message-conveying talk); 3). . content-constituting register for knowledge.
i) OBJECT AND MEDIUM OBJECT MEDIUM Lecturer teaches ENGLISH through English Lecturer teaches SUBJECT through English Talk is about English, (grammar, communication, expressions etc) Talk is about subject matter, (geography, maths, history)
i) ROYAL UNIVERSITY OF PHNOM PENH • • • Teaching Languages Since 13 January 1960 s: mostly French 1970 s: mostly French, gradual “Khmerisation” 1975 -1978: closure & killings 1980 s: initially Russian; later also Vietnamese; still later also Khmer; Late 80 s ~ early 90 s: first French then English, some Khmer Early 2000 s, largely Khmer, booming English, residual French
i) SRI LANKA LANGUAGE POLICY PHASES in Traditional>Colonial>Modern Education Official English Official Sinhala Restoration of Tamil Restoration of English
i) KOREA CONTEXT “OFFICIAL ENGLISH” DEBATES> PRIVATE SECTOR FINANCING, DISCOURSE OF “UNIS & SCHOOLS DON’T DELIVER” School students, Undergraduates, Business People and Public Officials, Military ENGLISH AS LOCAL SOCIAL MEDIUM Based on communicative, task-specified, intensity and frequency
i) MALAYSIA FIRST OCCASION FOR BM Razak Education Commission 1956 >National Education Policy stipulated BM as MOI, educational inequalities & national unity, remove association of English with privilege (Asmah 1997). 1958 primary school BM as MOI; by 1983 transition to University achieved; SECOND OCCASION FOR ENGLISH Employers perception of English proficiency, also government & academics (Asmah 1987, Gill 1993, 1999)> international marketplace & English medium credentials; > Education Development 2001 -2010 (Blueprint for the Future, 2001) Higher Plan Education for human resource needs to meet national industrialisation goals, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced “meritocracy” instead of ethnic quotas, from 2002. <<
i) CORPUS ISSUES Terminology research & translation efforts of Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka effective but rapid pace of new knowledge required students to read English + issues of international economic competitiveness Asmah H. O. (1994) Nationalism & exoglossia: English in Malaysia, pp 65 -85 in H. Abdullah, ed, Language planning in SE Asia. KL: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka & Ministry of Education.
ii) ENGLISH AS LINGUA MUNDI “ 2 billion people – 1/3 of human race –learning English by 20102015. ” “…. the world is about to be hit by a tidal wave of English” and that “… as many as 3 billion people or 1/2 world’s population could be speaking the language “. By 2050 English learners to “a mere 500 million” ceasing to be a language> a “basic skill”, English as transactional.
ii) ENGLISH AND SUCCESSION English onlylingua … franca history have in to been maintainedthough a global power succession; which dominant in one worldpower succeeded another but both used the same language. Umberto Eco (1997 )
ii) COMMUNICATION FUTURES EU/COE expectation of “plurilingual individuals” comprising > Languages of Identity & National Languages + LWC & English (-es) + multiple, partial and temporary language competencies + Multiple Literacies
ii) PRAGUE MANIFESTO Democracy~~Effective education~~Multilingualism~~Language Rights~~Language diversity ~~Human Emancipation see how English is positioned in identity terms>> “Esperanto promotes Global education” unlike “ethnic” languages (such as English)b/c Esperanto not “bound” to cultures & nations; “a language without borders”
ii) CAPITAL THEORISATIONS i ii iv Physical Capital: Language Irrelevant Human Capital (embodied market): trade, exchange or investment Social Capital: Bridging and Building Links Cultural Capital: Central quality, eloquence, position, discursive UNESCO-UNICEF>Human Rights (cultural capital) OECD/WB/IMF>Human Capital (embodied economic) Capital
iii) NATION & STATE Nation State horizontal axis vertical axis identity, attachment, sentiment, belonging, loyalty etc administration and formal authority etc
iii) COMPONENTS of NATIONALISM Theoretically limitless: • language (code & narration); • the past (incl. dead & their “continuing life”); • culture (high & mass), religion & ethnicity
iii) NATION & IDENTITY “Every nation speaks…according to the way it thinks and thinks according to the way it speaks” Johan Herder 1772
iii) CULTURE, RELATIVITY, LANGUAGE Wilhelm von Humboldt’s introduction to study of Kawi language of Java> The Heterogeneity of Language and its Influence on the Intellectual Development of Mankind (Berlin 1836) > languages differ in essential ways > Sapir. Whorf RELATIVISM (weak or strong versions) to …. relativity shifts focus from static concepts (language, thought, and culture) to dynamic notions (speakers/writers, thinkers, discourse communities)
iii) IDENTITY & ENGLISH LEARNING IN CHINA identity is a notion that is not self-evident but ambiguous • • • Asked about cultural identities informants made clear and strong claim of Chinese identity, but this got broadened and enriched in the process of L 2 learning (Gao, 2002: 15) I feel terrific when I find my command of English is better than that of others; English learning has a great impact on my self-confidence; When I have difficulties in English learning, I begin to doubt my own ability; Whenever I have overcome a difficulty in learning English, I can feel my own growth; (Gao, 2005: 45 After learning English, I'm often caught between contradicting values and beliefs; (Gao, 2005: 46
iii) IS ENGLISH A POST-IDENTITY LANGUAGE ? Hashimoto and others in Korea who show nationalist placation is involved in promoting English; China Ministry of Education English and FLs in separate compartments; Tun Mahathir reassuring nationalists that Malaysians’ sense of nationality can be realised through more and instrumental English
iii) WORLD CALAMITY • 1956 All Party Report on Chinese Education> Singapore's strategy "equal treatment" policy. Said the new nation’s education system was ‘unnatural’ because 85% of children taught in English & Mandarin; neither a MT. If because of a world calamity children in England were taught Russian and Mandarin but continued to speak English at home, “the British educational system would run into some of (our) problems”.
iii) CHINESE VIEWS OF ENGLISH’S IDENTITY EFFECTS TENTATIVE i) Keep Chinese “essence” separate from English; ii) Adds needed individuality and ‘assertiveness’; iii) Produce an English invested with Chineseness; iv) Identity formed in childhood linguistic socialization; adult process unclear.
iii) SUBJECTIVITY & IDENTITY Writing on identity is often oriented to a primary assumption about human subjectivity and identity from either an essentialist framework or a constructivist alternative grounded in concrete settings of language use and behaviour.
iii) MULTI-FACETED SELVES Both essentialist (enduring) and contingent (situated) interacting selves and identities interact with an endangered self. Individuals often overcome cultural divergence by separating permanent self and ethnic/language identity from locally situated self for adjustment purposes Enduring self> lifelong concept of “me” deeply rooted in language, heritage, memory, educational and socio-cultural practices. Situated self develops during adjustment to new context without harming the enduring self. Spindler and Spindler (1992, 1993), Hall (1996), Ryan (1999), Norton (2000)
iii) SEMIOTIC RELATIVITY how the use of a symbolic system affects thought
iii) LINGUISTIC RELATIVITY linguistic relativity, or how speakers of different languages think differently when speaking
iii) DISCURSIVE RELATIVITY how speakers of different discourses (across languages or in the same languages) have different cultural worldviews
iv) POSITIONS i) ACCEPT & IMPROVE ii) CHALLENGE & PROBLEMATISE
iv) ACCEPT AND IMPROVE Questions which follow from this position> Pedagogical i) How improve effectiveness of content area instruction? ii) How organise/sequence and assess delivery of EAP support? iii) Attitude to sociolinguistic context & communicative norms & practices of learners
iv) ACCEPT AND IMPROVE Questions which follow from this position> Policy and Politics i) iii) How to deal w cultural consequences of becoming ESL not EFL society? How to minimise concerns? How to compensate or placate opposition?
iv) CHALLENGE AND PROBLEMATISE Questions which follow from this position> Social Equity of EMI choice i) Class distribution of “standard” & academic English; ii) Ethnicity/regional distribution of “standard” and academic English;
iv) CHALLENGE AND PROBLEMATISE Questions which follow from this position> Cultural and Identity Consequences of EMI choice iii) Nationalist discourse of “indignity”; iv) Linguistic discourse of National Language domain attrition; v) Personalist discourse of individual learner identities
OUTLINE OF PAPER i) Settings & history variations: deeply shaping; ii) English: multiple characterisations; iii) Identity: National & Personal; iv) Positions: a) Accept & Improve; b) Challenge & Problematise.