MLE and Language Policy: From an External Perspective

We have barely scratched the surface in dealing with our language policy issues, especially those about multilingual education (MLE), while other members of the global community are at it as well.  I’m positive we could benefit from an external perspective, so here’s one from Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 39: 3, 305 — 320:

Multilingual language policy and school linguistic practice: globalization and English-language teaching in India, Singapore and South Africa


Nancy Hornberger
Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA


Viniti Vaish
Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice, National Institute, Singapore

ABSTRACT:  This paper explores tensions in translating multilingual language policy to classroom linguistic practice, and especially the paradoxical role of and demand for English as a tool of decolonization for multilingual populations seeking equitable access to a globalizing economy. We take an ecological and sociolinguistic approach, depicting tensions between multilingualism and English across three national cases, at both policy and classroom level. Despite India’s egalitarian Three Language Formula (TLF) of 1968, many Indian children are being educated in a language which is not their mother tongue. Singapore’s bilingual education policy with English medium of instruction and mother tongues taught as second languages nevertheless leaves the linguistic capital of multilingual children who speak a pidginized variety of English called ‘Singlish’ out of the equation, since the school medium is standard English. South Africa’s Constitution of 1993 embraces multilingualism as a national resource,
raising nine major African languages to national official status alongside English and Afrikaans, yet with the freedom of movement accompanying the dismantling of apartheid, large numbers of African language-speaking parents seek to place their children in English-medium instructional contexts. Given the push for English and simultaneous official valuing of multilingualism in all three cases, we briefly consider illustrative classroom examples and argue that multilingual classroom practices can be a resource through which children access Standard English while also cultivating their own local languages.

Keywords: globalization; language in education policy; medium of instruction; continua of biliteracy

For the complete article, click on Multilingual language policy and school linguistic practice.

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