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1 Does Language Policy Do What It Says on the Tin? Some Perspectives on Language Planning.

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1 1 Does Language Policy Do What It Says on the Tin? Some Perspectives on Language Planning

2 2 Power – Discourse - Ideology (See Tollefson 1995:2 or Tollefson 1991) ‘Discourse power’ – ‘encounters between unequal individuals’ ‘State power’ – the ‘control of the armed forces and the agencies of government’ ‘Ideological power’ – projecting specific power relations as natural, common-sense and ahistorical Language policies: ‘an outcome of power struggles and an arena for those struggles.’ (Ibid. p2) Language policies are ‘associated with a rhetoric of “equality” and “opportunity” but often = low paying jobs for minorities. (Ibid. p3) English language teachers ‘too often adopt uncritical assumptions about the value of English’ which are ‘self-serving.’ (Ibid. p3) So … So what? How does that affect your own language background? (e.g. you don’t have to be bilingual for you to have a bilingual experience.)

3 3 What Do Language Policies Try To Do? Status Planning About uses of language Which language(s) to use, and where Which are the ‘official’ or ‘national’ language(s)? Which languages should be banned? Revived? Maintained? Acquisition Planning About users of language Who uses language? What kind of groups are they? Educational? National? Minority Groups? How can these groups best acquire languages? Why do they ‘lose’ their languages and acquire others? (language shift)

4 4 ‘Language Planning and Policy Goals: An Integrative Framework’ (Hornberger, 2006:29)

5 5 The Role of the State (1) Governments design language policy Choose which language (Status Planning) Based on consultation with the public? Sometimes, yes – but often this will ignore public opinion if it is too costly Or … perhaps worse, design a language policy based upon popular opinion Popular opinions (or common beliefs) about language? ‘Immigrants should learn English’? ‘One nation, one language’? Ideologies / discourses structure language policy decisions, not just linguistic reasons

6 6 The Role of the State (2) Implementation of policy (acquisition planning) Through local councils / educational authorities Through schools Through teachers In e.g. healthcare systems: similar structures Language policy usually is understood in the educational context But often other contexts, such as healthcare (see Tollefson 1991: 78)

7 7 Status Planning Acquisition Planning Static View of Power Relations in Policy-Making and Implementation

8 8 Can be mediated through and by Media, Unions etc.; can be through direct involvement Dynamic View of Power/Knowledge and Resistance in Policy-Making and Implementation Democratic Accountability

9 9 But … Are language planning goals always met? Two Case Studies Taiwan has 3 major ethno-linguistic groups (Mandarin 12%, Taiwanese 73%, Hakka 13%) and 12 minor groups (Austronesian indigenous language groups – app. 2%) [data from Huang 1993] + Now (2007) 1.6% brides from South East Asia, domestic workers, etc. Taiwan NOT recognised as an independent entity by the United Nations or most countries. The Problem: Under Martial Law, all languages except Mandarin were repressed Under ‘liberal-democracy’, multi-cultural discourses suggest revival of minority languages English needed for ‘international communication’ New brides need to learn local languages / keep their own Discussion – what are the ideologies / discourses which ‘frame’ these issues as ‘problems’? Who are ‘stakeholders’ in language policy? Do they all agree? What are the goals of language policies? (Not solutions)

10 10 Goals: Deciding which languages are official/national (Form / Status) Reviving minority languages (Function / Status) Minority languages in schools, community groups (Form / Acquisition) Language Maintenance / Reversing Shift (Function / Acquisition) English as possible 2 nd official language (Form / Status) English for international communication (Function / Status) English education in schools? As University entrance exams? (Form / Acquisition) Local language education for new immigrants? (Form / Status + Form/ Acquisition) Rights to maintain immigrant languages (Function / Status = Function Acquisition) Etc. …

11 11 Possible Solutions? Compulsory minority language education for all Compulsory English education for all Officialise all languages Officialise none Officialise English Compulsory immigrant education for all? Other Solutions? Discussion: What are the costs / benefits of each of these solutions? What unintended consequences can they have? What problems can these unintended consequences cause for policy?

12 12 Unintended consequences: Minority language education is good in theory – but not tested at the University level (unlike English or Mandarin) Making all languages official is an administrative impossibility Making one or two languages official risks inflaming the other linguistic groups – and not in the spirit of multiculturalism Possibly dividing society along ethnic lines? Thus things stay the same, officially Leaving things be = possibility of a new dominant language group (a ‘minority within a minority’ – Blommaert & Vershueren 1998:205; Edwards 1994: )

13 13 But … Are language planning goals always met? Two Case Studies Harib Pal (in Tollefson 1991: 44) The Problem: Harib does not speak English well but in mainstream education he ‘needs’ to Harib is also not literate in Bengali/Sylheti Harib’s parents do not speak English (and rely on him for translation at e.g. doctors) Discussion – what are the ideologies / discourses which ‘frame’ these issues as ‘problems’? Who are ‘stakeholders’ in language policy? Do they all agree? What are the goals of language policies? (Not solutions)

14 14 Goals: Maintenance of English as the majority language – but not necessarily ‘nationalising’ or ‘officialising’ English (Form / Status) English for ‘intra-national’ communication (Function / Status) Teaching Harib English in Schools (Form / Acquisition) Teaching English as a Second Language (Function / Acquisition) Maintenance of Harib’s minority linguistic / community identity (Function / Status) Bengali as (Form / Status)? Teaching Bengali literacy (Function / Acquisition) Teaching Bengali in the community / through mainstream education? (Form / Acquisition) Any other goals (not solutions)?

15 15 Possible Solutions? To teach Harib’s parents English so they can speak it at home (and presumably teach it to him and also understand their doctor) To put him in a bilingual Bengali / English school (e.g. immersion) To put him in a monolingual English school and encourage him to ‘lose’ Bengali To provide remedial education in English To provide Bengali education in the mainstream educational context To provide resources for Bengali tuition within the community To let the community be responsible for its own language maintenance To provide translation services for Harib and his family for e.g. doctors visits To provice education in Bengali for Harib’s doctor Other Solutions? Discussion … What are the costs / benefits of each of these solutions? What unintended consequences can they have? (Use the examples in the Tollefson reading, but also think of your own? What problems can these unintended consequences cause for policy?

16 16 Summary Language policies are often ideological positions and constructed by societal discourses But it is clear that they are not ‘one-way’ operations of power that ‘impose’ one solution Indeed, the very ‘problems’ which they set out to solve are framed by ideologies and discourses in society Language policies can be productive operations of power that a) cause unintended consequences and b) invite resistance to operations of power by individuals are groups Language policies with ‘good intentions’ can actually re-create the inequalities they set out to reduce. So … we have to understand policy not as merely a ‘cost/benefit’ analysis, but in relation to the way it is formulated and the effects it produces Language policies have implications for users of other community services such as healthcare, social services, not just for schoolchildren


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