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Language Policies in Asian Countries

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Globalization &
Language Policy Responses in
Asian Contexts
Symposium on Language Issues in
EMI Universities Across Asia
8-9 June 2006
Amy B.M. Tsui
The University of Hong Kong
1
2
Expanding circle
Outer circle
Inner circle
e.g. USA, UK
320m-500m
e.g. India, Singapore
300m-500m
e.g. China, Russia
500m-1,000m
The three “circles” of English (Crystal, 2003, p. 61)
3
The Spread of English
пѓ� Is English still spreading?
пѓ� Is the spread of English orchestrated /
fostered and to whose benefit?
пѓ� Are there forces and processes transcending
the English mother-tongue world which may
also be contributing to the continued spread
of English?
Fishman (1996)
4
Globalization
Characteristics of globalization:
пѓ� Interconnectivity
пѓ� Intensity
пѓ� Instantaneity
пѓ� Simultaneity
Mediational Tools (global literacy skills)
пѓ� Information technology
пѓ� English
5
The Spread of English
пѓ�
Is the spread of English cultural-linguistic
imperialism / neo-colonialism or the
democratization of an elitist resource?
пѓ�
Is English a tool for economic exploitation
or a multinational tool that enables former
colonized regions to participate in the
world capitalist system?
пѓ�
Does the spread of English necessarily
lead to the displacement of local
languages and cultural identities?
6
The Spread of English
“[English] is the inter-national language par
excellence at the close of the twentieth
century, and the first language of millions of
people … Many people, …, of Africa, India
and Europe are fully fluent in English, even
speak it as their principal language, with no
loss of their cultural identity” (Conrad, 1996,
p. 21, author’s emphasis)
7
Questions Addressed
пѓ�
Is English perceived as a multinational tool or an
imperialistic tool?
пѓ�
What are Asian countries’ language policy responses to
globalization?
пѓ�
Do these policies lead to the democratization of English
as an elitist resource?
пѓ�
Or do they legitimate the hegemony of English and the
cultural domination of the West?
пѓ�
How do Asian countries resolve the paradox of
preserving national cultural identities and promoting a
foreign language and Western cultures?
8
Language Policy Responses to
Globalization
Components of Language Policy
пѓ�
Language management
пѓ�
Language practices: language varieties
language use and language pedagogy
пѓ�
Language ideology (Spolsky, 2004)
9
Language Management
пѓ�
Learning English as a national mission
пѓ�
The status of English
пЃ¬
пЃ¬
пЃ¬
пѓ�
as an official language
as a second / working language
as a medium of instruction
Curriculum time and resources
10
Learning English as a National Mission
China: “Learning English is for the whole nation”
пѓ�
English study fever (yingyu re)
пѓ�
No. of CET test takers:
10,000 (1994) to 9.5 million (2004)
11
Learning English as a National Mission
Japan: Cultivation of “Japanese with English
abilities” (MEXT 2002 White Paper)
National Strategy and Action Plan
пЃ¬
пЃ¬
Ability to interact socially in English for all
Japanese
A working knowledge of English for all Japanese
professionals
12
Learning English as a National Mission
South Korea: young uh yul poong (English
study fervor)
пѓ�
Six priority areas for development since 1995
пЃ¬
пЃ¬
Korean culture and Korean way of thinking (i.e.,
consciousness)
English language education : focus of educational
reform
13
Learning English as a National Mission
Malaysia: English and national interest
“Bahasa Malaysia has been given pride of
place as the national language. The time has
come to give English significant priority. It
will be in the national interest to do so. In
fact, the national interest demands it. (Singh,
1993, Dec 29, p.3, cited in Gill, 2004, p. 144)
14
English as an official language & MOI
Japan
пѓ�
Proposal to adopt English as a second official
language (2000)
пѓ�
Establish 100 “super” high schools using English as
MOI by 2005
South Korea
пѓ�
Proposals to adopt English an official English, to
make English the new mother tongue (1999)
пѓ�
Proposals created a “second crisis” after Japanese
occupation (Yim, 2003)
15
English as an official language & MOI
Malaysia
пѓ�
26 (1958-1983 / 1985) years to complete Malaymedium education at all levels of education
пѓ�
1993 / 1996: English as MOI re-introduced at tertiary
level
пѓ�
2003: starting from P1, S1 & S6 for science and math
China
пѓ�
English as MOI in private schools
пѓ�
English as MOI for science & technology in some
tertiary institutions
16
English as an official language & MOI
Cambodia:
пѓ�
English displaced French as preferred medium
Vietnam
пѓ�
English adopted as a second language over and
above former colonial languages
Nepal, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Bangladesh
пѓ�
English as MOI
пѓ�
Language policy dictated by linguistic preferences of
international aid agencies
17
Resolving the Paradox:
Reconstructing National Cultural Identity
through the discourse of English
“A national culture is a discourse – a way of
constructing meaning which influences and organizes
both our actions and our conceptions of ourselves …
National cultures construct identities by producing
meanings about �the nation’ with which we can
identify; these are contained in the stories which are
told about it, memories which connect its present
with its past, images which are constructed of it.”
(Stuart Hall, 1996, p. 613, original emphasis)
18
Elements of Identity Construction
пѓ�
Uniqueness of a nation or national culture
пѓ�
Shared historical memory
пѓ�
Future adversities and achievements of the
nation
пѓ�
Origin, continuity, tradition and timelessness
of the nation
19
Resolving the Paradox
пѓ�
China: Re-defining “national greatness” & HK
пѓ�
Japan: “Deconstructing English” and reaffirming
“Japaneseness”
пѓ�
South Korea: English as a new language of
nationalism
пѓ�
Malaysia: Reconstructing nationalism through
English
пѓ�
Singapore: National identity crafted in English
with Asian images
20
China: Re-defining “national greatness”
пѓ�
“Only by constantly improving our economic
strength, national defense strength, and
national cohesiveness, can we remain
invincible amidst increasingly intensive
international competition and truly safeguard
our national sovereignty and national pride.”
(Jiang Zhemin; Cited in Moore, 2000, p.122 )
21
China: Re-defining “national greatness”
пѓ�
“I hope all the classes will be taught in
English. I don’t worship foreign languages,
but we need to exchange our ideas with the
rest of the world.” (Zhu Rongji, China
varsities to teach in English, 2001,
September 20, cited in Gill, 2004).
Hong Kong: “Resinicization” and
retention of EMI education
22
Japan: “Deconstructing English” &
reaffirming “Japaneseness”
пѓ�
1994: assimilation of foreign culture must be changed
пѓ� 1998: cultivation of Japanese identity as one of the
aims of the national curriculum
пѓ� 2003: learning Japanese is a prerequisite for learning
English
пѓ�
Deconstructing English is “removing English from the
core identity of Japan” by treating it as a mere
technical tool and by reaffirming the unique cultural
values and qualities of the Japanese, hence
maintaining cultural independence from the West
(Hashimoto, 2000, p. 49)
23
S. Korea: English curriculum as a mediating
tool for national identity construction
пѓ�
“ �In order to win, know your enemy better.’ …
Koreans can only overtake its competitors by
getting intimately familiar with them” (Yim,
2003, p. 42)
24
S. Korea: English curriculum as a mediating
tool for national identity construction
пѓ�
“Koreans are very proud of their language. Their
language is called Korean. Written Korean is called
Hangeul. It was invented in 1443 … Hangeul is very
easy to read and write. So almost every Korean can
read and write. In some countries people cannot
read or write because their written language is too
difficult. This is not true in Korea.”
пѓ�
“… My history teacher says that it [Korean history]
goes back as far as five thousand years ago.
Koreans are very proud of our long history.”
(Ji Hak Sa II, Lesson 10)
25
Malaysia: Reconstructing nationalism
through English
“Learning the English language will reinforce
the spirit of nationalism when it is used to
bring about development and progress for
the country. … True nationalism means doing
everything possible for the country, even if it
means learning the English language”
(Mahathir Mohamad, The Sun, Sept 11, 1999,
my emphasis).
26
Malaysia: Reconstructing nationalism
through English
“We believe that a nationalist is someone
who has acquired all the knowledge and
mastered all the skills and is capable of
contesting against the rest of the world. But
they (some Malaysians) think that just being
able to speak Malay makes you a nationalist,
and that is wrong.” (Mahathir Mohamad, New
Straits Times, December 29, 2000)
27
Singapore: National identity crafted in
English with Asian images
“A uniquely Singaporean identity is being crafted in
English, but with Asian imagery and imagination.
… A major paradox is that English has emerged as
the only contender for the supra link language to
express a uniquely Singaporean identity and yet it
is at the same time perceived to be the channel for
avant garde, pseudo-westernized behaviours as
opposed to conservative beliefs and practices
grounded in and transmitted via ethnic languages.”
(Pakir, 2004, p. 124-125)
28
Democratization of English & English as
a resource for democratization
пѓ�
Is English perceived as a multinational tool or an
imperialistic tool?
пѓ�
What are Asian countries’ language policy
responses to globalization?
пѓ�
Do these policies lead to the democratization of
English as an elitist resource?
пѓ�
Or do they legitimate the hegemony of English and
the cultural domination of the West?
пѓ�
How do Asian countries resolve the paradox of
preserving national cultural identities and promoting
a foreign language and Western cultures?
29
“There are so many different languages in the world.
Korean is the language of Korea, and Japanese is the
language of Japan. … Is English especially important
because it is spoken by so many different countries?
What about Chinese which is spoken by the large
number of people? … One language can be more
important than another. Think of English, which has
become an international language. However, the most
important language to anyone is the language he uses
in his everyday life. To us Korean, the mother tongue is
Korea. (The history of Korean language continues. …)
Many Koreans think that it is better than any other
alphabet in the world. It is right for us to love our own
language.” (Ji Hak Sa, cited in Yim, 2003, p. 17)
30
Amy B. M. Tsui & James W.
Tollefson (Eds.) (2006) Language
Culture and Identity in Asian
Contexts. Mahwah, N.J.:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
James W. Tollefson & Amy B. M.
Tsui (Eds.) (2004) Medium of
Instruction Policies: Whose
Agenda? Which Agenda?
Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates.
31
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