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1 LANGUAGE PLANNING AND POLICY IN SINGAPORE. 2 General Information Island-city state a microstate and the smallest nation in Southeast Asia is unique.

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Presentation on theme: "1 LANGUAGE PLANNING AND POLICY IN SINGAPORE. 2 General Information Island-city state a microstate and the smallest nation in Southeast Asia is unique."— Presentation transcript:


2 2 General Information Island-city state a microstate and the smallest nation in Southeast Asia is unique as it is the only country in Asia which has English as its first language. Highly cosmopolitan and diverse population (4.99 m). It includes many Chinese (74.2%), Malays (13.4%), Indians (9.2%), Eurasians, Caucasians and Asians of different origins (3.2%).

3 3 History British Colonial Rule (1819-1940) Japanese invasion during World War II. Independence (1946-present)

4 4 Languages A multi-lingual nation. English is the official language. The forms of English spoken in Singapore ranges from Standard Singapore English to Singlish.Standard Singapore EnglishSinglish The English used is primarily based on British English, with some American English influences.

5 5 Languages The use of English became widespread in Singapore after it was implemented as a first language medium in the education system English is the most common language in Singaporean literature. In school, children are required to learn English and one of the three other official languages.

6 6 Languages The Singapore government recognises four official langauges: English Malay (National) Malay Chinese (Mandarin) Tamil. Tamil

7 7 Languages The national language of Singapore is Malay for historical reasons,and it is used in the national anthem. However, 85% of Singaporeans do not speak Malay. Mandarin's use has spread largely as a result of government-sponsored public campaigns and efforts to support its adoption and use over other Chinese languages. It is generally spoken as a common language amongst Singapores Chinese Community. Tamil is spoken by about 60% of Singapores Indian community. Indian languages such as Malayalam and Hindi are also spoken in Singapore.MalayalamHindi

8 8 Singapores Media of Instruction Policy Gupta (1997) : the empowerment of individuals should have primacy over the development of an individuals mother tongue, and even over the preservation of a language

9 9 The Colonial Period The medium of instruction was the mother tongues Instruction in English for only an elite group Inequality between groups By 1986, enrolment in schools offering Tamil, Malay, and Mandarin was so low that the government had to close them down.

10 10 The Colonial Period In 1987 English was made the dominant medium of instruction in the national school system. Concern among the Chinese who felt that their language and culture were being threatened by the global spread of English. The annual Speak Mandarin Campaign (1979) Special Assistance Plan schools (1980) English and Mandarin are learned as first languages by the Chinese elite

11 11 Fishman (1969) Type C model of LP There are several competing great traditions and the country is unwilling to choose just one.

12 12 LP in Singapore Bilingual education policy was found inadequate by the Goh Report of 1978 because of low levels of biliteracy and large numbers of failures in the Primary School Leaving Exam. In 1987 the national school system was made English medium with the mother tongue, decided on the basis of paternity, to be learned as a second language.

13 13 LP in Singapore This created problems for the children of mixed marriages. English in Singapore was not imposed by the government, rather it was a market- driven demand by the community.

14 14 LP in Singapore Report on Improving Primary School Education (1991) curriculum time from P1 to P2 33% English, 20% Mathematics, 20% other subjects, 27% for mother tongue and moral education. Three language streams in primary school based on the ability of students: EM1, EM2, EMO or EM3

15 15 English and Mother Tongue Taught as First Language (EM1) the children take higher Mother Tongue. Mother Tongue: 5-6 hours per week Difficult topics (including poetry) included and examinable Only children considered to be very good at language are allowed to take higher Mother Tongue.

16 16 English and Mother Tongue taught as second language in a simplified curriculum (EM2) They take regular Mother Tongue. Mother Tongue is taught at second language level: 4-5 hours per week All the other subjects are the same as EM1.

17 17 English and Mother Tongue Oral (EMO or EM3) all the subjects are at a basic or foundation level. Mother Tongue is at a basic proficiency level with more emphasis on oral rather than writing skills. EM3 students take different (simplified) national exams compared to EM1 and EM2.

18 18 A Classroom Dialogue (28 th September, 2004) Mrs. L: A hut. Hut right? Some people, oh not, not in Singapore right now okay. All over the world, people from all over the world stays in, okay? Like a hut. Maybe some part of Malaysia people still stay in a hut. Remember? Okay. So you can get your answers from here or you may erm recall what you have learnt previously alright? Ill give you until 12.20. Okay, write it down now. Student: Miss Lee, number one write what answer? Mrs. L: Number one will write yes. Okay, the rest will contribute … Go into your group now… Male student: We stay here until what time? Mrs. L: Until end of the day… Male student: Miss Lee, last time one hor [a discourse particle in Singlish meant to get the attention of the listener] not now one hor? Mrs. L: Depends. Whatever that you know of. Male student: Any house also can ah?

19 19 The Dilemma The central tension between the processes of globalization and school linguistic practice is the rising demand for the linguistic capital of English, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the challenge to bilingual programs to meet this demand by mobilizing the childs mother tongue as a resource. In other words: How can bilingual programs make sustainable additive bilingualism their main educational outcome?

20 20 Interpretation of the Dialogue The teacher does not want to advantage one group by speaking in Tamil, Malay or Mandarin, so she uses English, consistent with the English-medium policy. Though the teacher tries her best to use standard English the students ask her questions in Singlish

21 21 Interpretation of the Dialogue Any house also can ah?, means can I write about any type of house? The teacher does not correct the Singlish of the students because she is focused on getting the content of the lesson across to them. The teacher invites and encourages questions, creating an interactive dialogic classroom. This is important in the Singaporean context as classes tend to be teacher fronted and it is difficult to elicit student participation. The teacher circumvents this problem by creating a space for Singlish in the classroom while trying her best to give the children as much input as possible in standard English.

22 22 Ministry to look into improving teaching of English language despite being the medium of instruction since 1987, English standards are deteriorating. Policyspeak in newspapers is often about low standards of English as an outcome of the linguistic practice of speaking Singlish most of the time. Thus, language ideology in Singapore tends not to value Singlish as a linguistic resource. However, Singaporeans feel that use of Singlish displays their identity as much if not more than their mother tongue.

23 23 In conclusion use of mother tongue in the classroom, or as in the case of Singapore the judicious use of the daily register, can be a resource through which children can access Standard English while also continuing and cultivating multilingual practices inclusive of their own local languages.

24 24 REFERENCES Hornberger, N. & Vaish V. (2009) 'Multilingual language policy and school linguistic practice: globalization and English-language teaching in India, Singapore and South Africa', Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 39: 3, 305 320

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