Article

Home Language Shift and Its Implications for Language Planning in Singapore: From the Perspective of Prestige Planning

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Abstract

Early research perceived language planning (LP) as a one-way process, underpinned by the positivistic view that the major problems facing language maintenance and spread could be solved through the application of the scientific method and careful planning by language planners (Baldauf, 2004). This perception continued until the 1990s, when some researchers (e.g., Haarmann, 1990) started a series Of Studies examining receptive processes in achieving LP goals, with the focus on a more fundamental but hidden agenda - human behavior and the psychological aspect in receiving the planned language product, which gives rise to a theory of prestige and image (Ager, 2005a & 2005b) planning in the LP research literature. In this paper, drawing upon the empirical data, we attempt to apply the theoretical framework of prestige and image LP to examine the status of Chinese in a Singaporean context. Through a correlative analysis of children's language use and the family's socio-economic status, we found that the Chinese language (CL) gradually lost its prestige in Singapore's society in general, and in particular it has lost ground to English in what Bourdieu terms as 'linguistic capital.' We argue that the future Success of language policy in term of Chinese language maintenance, by and large, depends upon whether and how its prestige and image are being promoted. Our analysis therefore contributes to alternative vistas on the understanding of the official discourse towards language issues in a multicultural society.

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... English has been accorded high prestige as a language of wider communication and the official working language in Singapore. Given Singapore's heavy reliance on international trade, English will continue to be the de facto language for trade, science and politics, and the symbolic and cultural values 8 C.L.P. Ng associated with English will continue to be part of the linguistic landscape (Zhao & Liu, 2007). In addition, the institutionalization of English as a compulsory school subject has a long history in Singapore. ...
... As a result of the emphasis on the learning of the English language in the school curriculum, more and younger Chinese Singaporeans have opted to align themselves with the English language instead of the CL. Over the years, Singapore has developed into a society where social stratification is based on linguistic differentiation (Zhao & Liu, 2007). Typically, this problem has been highlighted in the polarization within the Chinese community resulting in the marginalization of its Chinese-educated members. ...
... The underlying message of Lee's speech is that the modernization of Singaporean society has resulted in the need to promote an unprecedented vigor in the use of English. As a result of such repeated emphasis by official planners on the economic values of English, the MTLs have been stigmatized as having low instrumental value, which further cause a decline in the use of these languages (Zhao & Liu, 2007). Singapore used to be a Chinese educational bastion for Southeast Asia, with the most comprehensive CL educational system but due to the spread of the English language, and as a result of the premium placed on English-medium education by parents, the CL ceased to be used as a medium of instruction in schools in 1987. ...
Article
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In 1966, the Singapore Government implemented the English-knowing bilingual policy which made it mandatory for all Chinese students to study English as a ‘First Language’ and the Chinese language (CL) as a ‘Mother Tongue Language’ in Singapore schools. Using key literature relevant to Singapore’s bilingual educational policy and adopting a wider sociohistorical, sociocultural and sociopolitical analysis [May, S. (2006). Language policy and minority rights. In T. Ricento (Ed.), An introduction to language policy (pp. 255–272). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing], this paper critically evaluates mother tongue education in Singapore. It argues that maintaining additive bilingualism in multilingual Singapore is problematic because English, a majority language with greater political power, privilege and social prestige in the local linguistic landscape, has come to replace the range and functions of Chinese, a minority language within the linguistic ecology of Singapore. The inevitable result is that speakers of Chinese experience a ‘shift’ to speaking the majority language and there is a fear that Chinese will erode further as an increasing number of younger Chinese Singaporeans display a lack of interest in learning their mother tongue due to a dominant English education and the overwhelming presence of English in Singapore’s society. This paper draws attention to the need to accord protection to the CL in order to maintain additive bilingualism in Singapore. Keywords: Singapore; bilingual education; mother tongue; challenges https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14664208.2014.927093
... While the government may expect Singaporeans to be proficient in English and the mother tongues, the dichotomized view of English as having instrumental values and mother tongues as having cultural functions has generated different attitudes towards these languages, especially because different levels of English proficiency can place individuals in different social strata (Silver, 2005). Thus, societal pressure and attitude have led to a massive language shift from mother tongues to English language among all ethnic groups (Lim, 2009;Zhao & Liu, 2008. ...
... In 2009, the Chinese curriculum underwent further changes to allow the use of English in teaching Chinese (MOE, 2010). These curricular changes have clearly indicated that the SMC has not succeeded in elevating Chinese to a position of prestige (Zhao & Liu, 2008). ...
... This prestige planning approach has not only guaranteed English a high economic value but also afforded it political and social value. The distinction between English and Chinese linguistic capital has shaped Singaporeans' attitudes (Zhao & Liu, 2008, thus enabling English to penetrate even the social sphere of family domains (Lim, 2009). ...
Article
This article examines how political discourse, language ideologies, recent Chinese curriculum reforms, and their representations in the media are inextricably related. Using the Speak Mandarin Campaign as background for the inquiry, I focus on textual features of the various media sources, TV advertisements, campaign slogans, official speeches, and newspaper excerpts to illuminate the status and changing role of the Chinese language in Singapore's sociocultural, economic, and political development. Using critical discourse analysis as an analytical framework, I examine the contradictory ideologies that underpin the government's language policies and planning activities. On the one hand, the government emphasizes the cultural and economic values of the Chinese language; on the other hand, government schools teach Chinese as a subject. In particular, the recent reforms in Chinese language curriculum have arguably further diluted the content of teaching. In addition I point out how conflicting ideologies behind language policies can lead to cultural confusion and educational uncertainty. These mixed messages make it difficult for schools to offer a consistent language education curriculum that will help students appreciate the value, be it economic, cultural or educational, of the Chinese language.
... A recent study on family language policies showed that Singaporean parents feel compelled to place higher expectations on their children to achieve high profi ciency in English than the mother tongue language due to the high instrumental value placed on English in schools and society (Curdt-Christiansen, 2014 ). In their study of family use and language attitudes amongst 907 Chinese parents, Zhao & Liu ( 2008 ) reported that the Chinese language has lost its 'linguistic capital' to English, and is viewed as a language of 'poverty and marginality' in the household (p. 121). ...
... This has resulted in a declining motivation for its use in the family. Zhao & Liu ( 2008 ) warned that the polarization of pupils along social class in their formal school years would occur if policy makers continue to allow the prestige of the Chinese language to decline in the local community. The government has acknowledged that as a result of the switch to English in the home environment, a signifi cant number of Chinese Singaporeans are experiencing diffi culties coping with the Mandarin language although it is their mother tongue (Lim et al., 2010 ). ...
... An increasing number of young generations of Singaporeans recognize the English language as a majority language with a higher status than the ethnic mother tongue language. On the other hand, the ethnic mother tongue has been viewed as a language with 'minority' status and 'enjoy' only a symbolic status within the ethnic communities (Zhao & Liu, 2008 ). Due 'to the internalization over time of negative attitudes to a minority language,' (May, 2012 , p. 10), younger generation of Singaporeans gradually prefer to adopt English as their linguistic repertoire. ...
Chapter
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The integration of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, as well as the United Nation’s call for Education for All (EFA) by 2015, has pushed the Philippine government to revamp the country’s educational system. Such revamp involves a review of the effectiveness of English language education (ELE) in the country, which may be described as currently at a crossroads, as stakeholders strive to address issues of developing the English language competencies of Filipino students on the one hand, and the strengthening of academic achievement on the other. ELE in the Philippines, which began during the American colonial period in the nineteenth century, has been found wanting in significantly contributing to increased learning outcomes among Filipino students. ELE policies have been beset with issues of alignment and coherence in the areas of curriculum and assessment, as well as challenges in the implementation of genuine reform. In addition, ELE has been implemented at the expense of literacy in the mother tongues. This chapter provides an overview of how ELE in the Philippines is evolving – learning from past mistakes and preparing for the future. The chapter is divided into five major parts, namely, (1) overview of the Philippine educational system; (2) ELE from the American colonial period to Martial Law; (3) Bilingual education and educational reforms from 1974 to 2010; (4) Mother-tongue based multilingual education (MTBMLE) and the K to 12 reform; and (5) prospects and possibilities for ELE in the Philippines. In this chapter, we make a case for Philippine ELE that strives to address the demands of the international community, but also upholds local culture through the use of the mother tongues.
... This phenomenon may result from the particular linguistic situation of Singapore; while some participants reported using primarily Chinese at home, the universal English-medium education system produces students who are highly proficient in English and use it on a daily basis outside of the home as their primary academic and social language. Moreover, the distinction between participants who use primarily Chinese and primarily English at home is not clear-cut, as many Singaporeans use both Chinese and English at home (Zhao & Liu, 2007). On the other hand, previous work on L2 learners of null-subject languages suggests that learners do not straightforwardly transfer their L1's argument-dropping features to the L2 (Liceras & Díaz, 1999); this suggests that Chinese-dominant learners of Korean may not in fact perceive these droppedargument constructions in Korean as familiar. ...
... Count of NOM tokens of KLs in each variant according to home language is shown below. 22 where the study was conducted, reflects the socioeconomic status (Zhao & Liu, 2007). ...
... Moreover, Zhao & Liu (2007) found that two other factors from socioeconomic status and home language showed a clear correlation: the educational level and occupation of parents. More parents from English speaking families obtained tertiary education compare to parents from Chinese speaking families. ...
Thesis
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This dissertation primarily investigates the acquisition of a third language (L3) by early bilinguals with a special focus on the acquisition of morphosyntactic features. Three studies that investigated the role of potential factors, such as a formal L2 experience, home language, L3 proficiency and structural familiarity, in L3 through experimental and corpus-based methodologies are reported here. To examine the potential role of transfer in L3 acquisition by investigating typological proximity, an untimed grammaticality judgment task measures explicit knowledge of nominative and accusative Korean case-marking in four different argument structures (e.g., intransitive, transitive, etc.). The learners with any prior formal L2 experience (EBLs+L2) were further subdivided into those with experience studying Japanese versus those without Japanese experience. Although specific experience with Japanese may convey slight advantages, EBLs+L2, regardless of typological proximity to Korean, significantly outperformed EBLs. These findings suggest that EBLs+L2 are generally advantaged in L3 study, not because of transfer from typologically similar languages, but due to generally enhanced metalinguistic awareness. The results of examination on the role of L3 proficiency indicate that the benefit of prior L2 experience is strongest at the initial stage of L3 learning. At the initial stage of learning, prior formal language study experience allows learners to be equipped with enhanced sensitivity to new linguistic inputs, which facilitates learning of syntactic features, even those used in structures that are unfamiliar to the learner. In addition, the advantage of L2 learning experiences was not limited only in acquiring obligatory grammatical features but it could be extended to learning sociolinguistic variations in L3. The study that examined the acquisition of variation in argument realisation involving such case-marking found that EBLs+L2 patterned more closely to native speakers in variation of argument realisation. Native speakers of Korean vary in argument realisation between full NP with explicit case marker, full NP with dropped case marker, and covert NP, depending on the sociolinguistic and discourse context. This study, using a variationist sociolinguistic framework, investigates whether prior experience with formal study of an L2 influences Korean learners’ Type 1 variation (i.e., correct versus incorrect argument realization) and Type 2 variation (i.e., variation between alternative acceptable variants). The results showed that the Type 2 variation patterns of EBLs+L2 were found to more closely mirror the patterns of their classroom input as compared to EBLs, suggesting that students with prior formal L2 learning experience have enhanced sensitivity to Type 2 variation. Specifically, significant differences were found between the two learner groups for sentence structures that are unique to the L3 and thus unfamiliar to learners. However, both groups performed comparably in terms of Type 1 variation with a partial advantage in accusative marking, meaning that they produced the same proportion of correct versus incorrect tokens generally. This study demonstrates that, in addition to previously demonstrated benefits for acquisition of grammatical competence, prior language learning experience may facilitate acquisition of variation patterns and thus enhance sociolinguistic competence in a third language.
... The census data reflect the growing prevalence of English as the dominant home language amongst young Singaporeans, but do not capture the actual language practices within each household, which demonstrate a dynamic use of all the languages available to Chinese Singaporeans. The increasing rate of English use in the family reported in the censuses and the reported codemixing and code-switching between English and the Chinese languages may be the catalyst for language shift away from Mandarin (Zhao and Liu 2008;Cavallaro 2011). ...
... This reflects the observations made by other researchers that English-speaking households usually belong to the higher SES tiers, while lower SES families usually have the another non-English languages as the main household language (Vaish, Jamaludeen, and Roslan 2009;Cavallaro and Serwe 2010;Cavallaro and Ng 2014). These trends are also seen in the 2006 Sociolinguistic Survey of Singapore (Aman, Vaish, and Bokhorst-Heng 2006;Bokhorst-Heng et al. 2010), where households using English as the dominant home language were found to correlate with higher SES classes and family income, and, within the Chinese community, Mandarin Chinese is predominantly the home language of lower middle class and the Chinese vernaculars of families belonging to even lower SES tiers (see also Zhao and Liu 2008). Consequently, one may hypothesise that the language of the home has a significant impact on the individual's construction of identity (Zhao and Liu 2008), which may be the reason for higher SES participants posting ratings about 8% lower than their peers from the lower SES bracket in the questions relating to their identity as Chinese Singaporeans. ...
... These trends are also seen in the 2006 Sociolinguistic Survey of Singapore (Aman, Vaish, and Bokhorst-Heng 2006;Bokhorst-Heng et al. 2010), where households using English as the dominant home language were found to correlate with higher SES classes and family income, and, within the Chinese community, Mandarin Chinese is predominantly the home language of lower middle class and the Chinese vernaculars of families belonging to even lower SES tiers (see also Zhao and Liu 2008). Consequently, one may hypothesise that the language of the home has a significant impact on the individual's construction of identity (Zhao and Liu 2008), which may be the reason for higher SES participants posting ratings about 8% lower than their peers from the lower SES bracket in the questions relating to their identity as Chinese Singaporeans. This is because they have been brought up in an English-dominant household during their formative years. ...
Article
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Not only does Singapore have a unique ethnic and multilingual makeup, it also boasts unique language policies, especially with regard to the learning of the official languages. Previous studies of Singaporean youths have largely focused on the differences in attitudes and code-switching between linguistic varieties (e.g. Colloquial Singapore English [Singlish] and Standard Singapore English) as well as looking at the specific languages of Singapore's multilingual community. This paper seeks to examine how Chinese–Singaporean youths differ in their perception of the benefits (general, communicative, cognitive and pragmatic) and disadvantages associated with Mandarin–English bilingualism and their Chinese–Singaporean identity. 165 Chinese–English bilingual youths from secondary schools, Polytechnics/Junior Colleges, University undergraduates and young working adults were stratified based their gender, socio-economic status and self-rated language proficiency. Our findings suggest that bilinguals' self-rated proficiency is generally the best indicator of local Chinese youths' attitudes towards Chinese–English bilingualism and identity, regardless of their current occupation, gender or socio-economic status. URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/uegseCNrAIgyV58q9rDE/full
... Further, current language-in-education policies assume that quadrilingual education can continue to foster high bilingual proficiency despite the language shift evident in the broader society. Tupas (2011) highlights how socio-economic (SES) class comes into play as well, noting that despite governmental rhetoric on education as providing equal opportunity for socio-economic advancement, those of higher SES are more likely to be English speaking with rich literacy experiences in English, while those of lower SES are less likely to be so (see also, Bokhorst- Heng and Caleon 2009;Gopinathan, et al 2004;Zhao and Liu 2007). The quadrilingual language education system, as described below, is set within this broader linguistic environment. ...
... Although Malay has the closest geographic support and Singaporean Malays seem to be the least likely to shift solely to English (Vaish, et al. 2009), the Malay language in Singapore has also shown some adaptation, especially with For example, the Chinese language syllabuses have been revised to try to accommodate ethnically Chinese children who might use limited amounts of Chinese outside of school or come from English-dominant homes (Liu and Zhao 2008 ;Zhao and Liu 2007); and, Singapore Spoken Tamil has been included in the Tamil language syllabus from 2008 (personal communication, Seetha Lakshmi, Nov 2012; see also Saravanan, Lakshmi, Caleon 2007 The system for MTs is even more complex in that families can, in special cases, request that a child study an MT which is not aligned with ethnicity. For example, a family with an English-speaking Caucasian mother and Malayspeaking ethnically Chinese father (raised in Malaysia) might ask that their child be given permission to study Malay instead of Chinese. ...
Chapter
In this chapter, we provide background for understanding the empirical studies reported in this volume. We offer information on language in education in the Singapore context by first explaining why we refer to ‘quadrilingual education’ in Singapore. We then highlight four themes that overarch the educational system as a whole and within which language education is framed. Subsequently, we discuss dreams and idealisations of individual bilingualism, societal multilingualism and education. This leads to a description of the language-in-education system which serves as background to the studies presented in this volume. The chapter closes with a brief introduction to the six parts of the book and the chapters within each part.
... For example, during the first decade of the 21st century, the population of ethnic Indian residents aged 5 and up speaking Tamil at home decreased from 42.9% to 36.7%, and similar patterns are also observed in groups speaking Malay and Chinese dialects (Leong, 2016). According to a survey of Chinese parents in Singapore (Zhao & Liu, 2007), the predominant use of Chinese at home is associated with marginalization and lower socioeconomic status. In addition, regardless of parents' English language proficiency level, they tend to encourage their children to speak English at home (Zhao & Liu, 2007). ...
... According to a survey of Chinese parents in Singapore (Zhao & Liu, 2007), the predominant use of Chinese at home is associated with marginalization and lower socioeconomic status. In addition, regardless of parents' English language proficiency level, they tend to encourage their children to speak English at home (Zhao & Liu, 2007). In fact, although English only became the MoI in 1987, parents' efforts to enroll their children in English-medium schools and their preference for such schools trace back to the 1960s (Chew, 2007;Pakir, 2004). ...
... This has resulted in a declining motivation for its use in the family. Zhao and Liu (2008) warned that the polarization of pupils along social class in their formal school years would occur if policy makers continue to allow the prestige of the Chinese language to decline in the local community. The government has acknowledged that as a result of the switch to English in the home environment, a significant number of Chinese Singaporeans are experiencing difficulties coping with the Mandarin language although it is their mother tongue (Lim et al, 2010). ...
... An increasing number of young generations of Singaporeans recognize the English language as a majority language with a higher status than the ethnic mother tongue language. On the other hand, the ethnic mother tongue has been viewed as a language with 'minority' status and 'enjoy' only a symbolic status within the ethnic communities (Zhao & Liu, 2008). Due 'to the internalization over time of negative attitudes to a minority language,' (May, 2012,p.10), ...
... As a result of the younger generations being educated mainly in English, English has penetrated beyond formal domains, progressively becoming a language of personal communication, informal interaction and cultural expression . The government's dichotomized view of English as having economic utility and Chinese as having cultural functions has generated different attitudes towards these languages (Zhao & Liu, 2007, especially because English language proficiency to a large extent determines career progression and socio-economic status . More Chinese parents are choosing English as the preferred language of communication with their children (Department of Statistics, 2016;MOE, 2011), speeding up the rate at which English infiltrates the social sphere. ...
Chapter
This chapter describes the landscape of formal internship programmes available in our Singapore education context. Focusing on internship programmes offered by the three main types of institutions that define the Post-Secondary Education Institutional (PSEI) space in Singapore, Universities, Polytechnics, and the Institute of Technical Education, we posit internships as an integral part of the curriculum and a critical element of learning. We begin by tracing the roots of internship in these broad institutional categories to highlight the organisation and nuances of the various internship programmes. We will also attempt to draw connections between the development of internship programmes and the Singapore SkillsFuture initiatives and to suggest some areas for enhancement.
... Although the primary school curriculum gives 'equal' emphasis on subjects -EL, MT, mathematics, and science (Primary 3 onwards), the demand for English proficiency is high as it directly affects children's academic performance. As a result, the emphasis on English has led to a gradual but significant shift to English where the social and communicative aspects of intergenerational transmission in MTs are slowly lost (Curdt-Christiansen 2014b ;Vaish 2007;Zhao and Liu 2007;Zhao and Zhang 2014). Consequently, the social functions of MT have gradually lost battle ground to English. ...
Article
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Singapore’s bilingual policy legitimises English not only as the language of governmental administration and interethnic communication, but also as the medium of instruction in all schools on all levels and across all subjects except mother tongues (MTs). As a result of these politics of language recognition, a visible shift has occurred in all ethnic groups away from MTs towards English. To rectify the language shift situation, the government has emphasised that developing bilingualism and raising bilingual children should begin in preschools. In this paper, we examine two top-down official documents: Review of Mother Tongue Languages Report, issued in 2011, and Nurturing Early Learners Framework for Mother Tongue Languages, developed in 2013. Attempting to identify some of the complex factors that influence language shift, we present an intertextual analysis of the Report and the curriculum Framework. In doing so, we compare the consistencies and locate the implicit inconsistencies in the policy position on bilingual education in preschools. We conclude the article by outlining the implications for changing the current bilingual educational models and providing teacher training programmes that maximise the learning opportunities of young bilingual learners.
... At a practical level, the privilege of English is reflected through better job opportunities and easier socio-economic advancement. As a consequence, a visible shift away from MTs towards English among all ethnic groups has occurred during the past three decades (Curdt-Christiansen 2014a;Li, Saravanan, and Ng 1997;Zhao and Liu 2008). The present language situation is less diversified compared to 30 years ago and shows a tendency towards a more linguistically homogeneous society where English is used in almost all domains, especially among young people (Chew 2014;Curdt-Christiansen 2014a;Gupta 2008; Liu 2008, 2010). ...
Article
Informed by family language policy (FLP) as the theoretical framework, I illustrate in this paper how language ideologies can be incongruous and language policies can be conflicting through three multilingual families in Singapore representing three major ethnic groups – Chinese, Malay and Indian. By studying their family language audits, observing their language practices, and engaging in conversations about their language ideologies, I look at what these families do and do not do and what they claim to do and not to do. Data were collected over a period of 6 months with more than 700 minutes of recording of actual interactions. Analysis of the data reveals that language ideologies are ‘power-inflected’ and tend to become the source of educational and social tensions which in turn shape family language practices. In Singapore these tensions are illustrated by the bilingual policy recognising mother tongues (MTs) and English as official languages, and its educational policy establishing English as the medium of instruction. The view of English as having instrumental values and MTs as having cultural functions reveals that language choices and practices in family domains are value-laden in everyday interactions and explicitly negotiated and established through FLP.
... Singapore adopts a bilingual education system in which English is the medium of school instruction, and all children are required to learn English and their respective ethnic language concurrently. While a significant shift in home language use from ethnic language to English has been observed, many Chinese families still use Chinese as their dominant home language or use both Chinese and English at home [63], and children are exposed to early language and literacy in Chinese within the kindergarten classroom. ...
Article
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We investigated a technology-based tool for teaching English letter-sound correspondences with bilingual children learning phonologically and typologically distant languages: English and Chinese. We expect that learning about print at the phoneme level may be particularly challenging, given children’s experience with the morphosyllabic language of Chinese. This randomized-controlled study with 90 kindergarteners examined the effects of an iPad-based supplementary reading program compared with a control condition. The See Word Reading® program utilized picture-embedded cues for teaching phonics within lessons directed at the letter, word, and text levels. Measures of decoding, word reading, and spelling were taken at the pretest, posttest, and follow-up for both groups. Results showed better gains in word reading for the reading group, indicating the positive impact of this supplementary reading tool. Further, data collected online from the app showed that different types of letter-sound pairings were more challenging to learn, including pairings that are inconsistent and with phonemes that are specific to English.
... This phenomenon may result from the particular linguistic situation of Singapore; while some participants reported using primarily Chinese at home, the universal English-medium education system produces students who are highly proficient in English and use it on a daily basis outside of the home as their primary academic and social language. Moreover, the distinction between participants who use primarily Chinese and primarily English at home is not clear-cut, as many Singaporeans use both Chinese and English at home (Zhao & Liu, 2007). On the other hand, previous work on L2 learners of null-subject languages suggests that learners do not straightforwardly transfer their L1's argument-dropping features to L2 (Liceras & Díaz, 1999); this suggests that Chinese-dominant learners of Korean may not in fact perceive these dropped-argument constructions in Korean as familiar. ...
Article
Full-text available
Early bilingualism is thought to facilitate language learning [Klein, E. C. (1995). Second versus third language acquisition: Is there a difference? Language Learning, 45(3), 419–466; Cromdal, J. (1999). Childhood bilingualism and metalinguistic skills: Analysis and control in young Swedish-English bilinguals. Applied Psycholinguistics, 20(1), 1–20]. The present study tests whether experience with formal study of an L2 conveys further advantages to early bilinguals, and whether typological similarity of previously-learnt languages to L3 plays a significant role in L3 learning. Two groups of participants, Early Bilinguals (EBLs) and Early Bilinguals with formal L2 experience (EBLs+L2), were tested on acquisition of Korean case markers in four argument structures: intransitive verbs, transitive verbs with both arguments, transitive verbs with one omitted argument, and descriptive verbs. EBLs+L2 significantly outperformed EBLs and the two groups showed further differences by sentence type, with EBLs showing more difficulty with novel structures while EBLs+L2 did not. To examine the role of typological proximity, EBLs+L2 were divided into those who had studied Japanese (EBLs+Jap), which is structurally similar to Korean, and those with experience studying other languages (EBLs+non-Jap). In spite of typological similarity, EBLs+Jap did not significantly outperform EBLs+non-Jap overall. These results support the conclusion that formal study of an L2 conveys advantages to early bilinguals in L3 learning. Such experience results in greater metalinguistic awareness, allowing students to efficiently acquire structures that differ from their existing linguistic repertoire.
... This phenomenon may result from the particular linguistic situation of Singapore; while some participants reported using primarily Chinese at home, the universal English-medium education system produces students who are highly proficient in English and use it on a daily basis outside of the home as their primary academic and social language. Moreover, the distinction between participants who use primarily Chinese and primarily English at home is not clear-cut, as many Singaporeans use both Chinese and English at home (Zhao & Liu, 2007). On the other hand, previous work on L2 learners of null-subject languages suggests that learners do not straightforwardly transfer their L1's argument-dropping features to L2 (Liceras & Díaz, 1999); this suggests that Chinese-dominant learners of Korean may not in fact perceive these dropped-argument constructions in Korean as familiar. ...
Conference Paper
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In the generativist approach to L3 learning, linguistic transfer from previously known languages has been proposed to occur cumulatively (Flynn et al., 2004) or alternatively to be determined by typological proximity (Rothman, 2011, a.o.) or L2 status (Bardel & Falk, 2004, a.o). Studies of L3 learning have focused on adult sequential bilinguals learning L3 in a formal setting; little is known about transfer in L3 learning for early bilinguals. Early bilinguals are known to differ cognitively from non-bilinguals in executive function and subsequent language learning ability (Bialystock, 1988; Cromdall, 1999; a.o.). It is therefore unclear whether typological similarity or L2 status shapes L3 learning for early bilinguals in the same way as for sequential bilinguals. The present study investigates how formal acquisition of an L2 among early bilinguals influences acquisition of case-markers in an L3, and whether this effect is conditioned by typological proximity between L2 and L3. Participants in this research were early bilinguals (English-Chinese/Malay) who had been studying Korean for two months at the National University of Singapore. 24 participants were classified as Early Bilinguals (EBLs) and 14 were classified as Late Multilinguals (LMLs), meaning early bilinguals who had studied an additional language in a formal setting. Performance of nominative and accusative Korean case marking was tested in four sentence types of different argument structures: intransitive verbs (IV), transitive verbs with both arguments realized (TVA), transitive verbs with one argument omitted (TVB), and descriptive verbs (DV). Participants were tested in an untimed grammaticality judgment task using a 4-point scalar judgment (“Correct”, “Probably Correct”, etc.). Overall, LMLs significantly outperformed EBLs (t (36) = 2.09, p = 0.0435). The two groups showed further differences by sentence type, with EBLs performing significantly worse on structures that are unique in Korean (TVB, DV) than on familiar structures (IV, TVA) (F(3,69) = 6.2, p < .001). In contrast, LMLs showed no significant differences by sentence type. To examine the role of typological similarity between L2 and L3, LMLs were divided into those who had studied Japanese (n = 7), which is structurally similar to Korean, and those with experience studying other languages (French, Thai, etc., n = 7). LMLs with Japanese experience did not significantly outperform others overall, although there was a marginal effect in the expected direction for descriptive verbs (t (36) =1.9894, p = 0.0543). These results support the conclusion that formal study of a second language conveys advantages to early bilinguals in L3 learning and that this advantage is not accounted for by L2 typological proximity. Taken together, these findings suggest that it is experience with the process of formal language study rather than linguistic transfer that primarily underlies enhanced performance among L3 learners with formal L2 learning experience. Such experience results in enhanced metalinguistic awareness, allowing students to efficiently learn syntactic features that are novel or different from their existing linguistic repertoire.
... The politics of language recognition in Singapore has given rise to an 'English Knowing' bilingualism phenomenon where large parts of the population are bilingual in English and their respective mother tongue (Pakir, 2008). However, there has been a pronounced language shift from mother tongue to English in recent years across all ethnic groups as a result of the legitimization of English in its political and social functions (Zhao and Liu, 2008). Nevertheless, like the Asian parents in North America, Singaporean parents have high expectations for their children's educational success. ...
... This phenomenon may result from the particular linguistic situation of Singapore; while some participants reported using primarily Chinese at home, the universal English-medium education system produces students who are highly proficient in English and use it on a daily basis outside of the home as their primary academic and social language. Moreover, the distinction between participants who use primarily Chinese and primarily English at home is not clear-cut, as many Singaporeans use both Chinese and English at home (Zhao & Liu, 2007). On the other hand, previous work on L2 learners of null-subject languages suggests that learners do not straightforwardly transfer their L1's argument-dropping features to the L2 (Liceras & Díaz, 1999); this suggests that Chinese-dominant learners of Korean may not in fact perceive these dropped-argument constructions in Korean as familiar. ...
Conference Paper
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In large number of studies of ‘second language learning’, the target language may indeed be the second language (L2) of the learners in a literal sense, or they may be his/her third, fourth, fifth languages. However, it is only recent that third language (L3) learning is widely acknowledged to involve a different mechanism than second language learning. The recent discussion provides us that previously acquired languages are influential in learning L3 morphosyntactic features. Moreover, the discussion is expanded to which prior language provides the most influence on the third and how it is selected (i.e. All the previous languages, L2 over L1 and typologically close language). On the other hand, bilingualism has long been known to be beneficial in learning an additional language. In fact, bilingualism is not unrelated to knowledge of previous languages; a considerable body of research suggests that balanced and early bilinguals have higher metalinguistic awareness than monolinguals which caters an advantage in L3 acquisition. In this empirical study, the typological proximity between the preceding languages and the L3 as well as bilingualism are considered to examine the performance of learners in learning the L3.
... But sociolinguistic realities on the ground show otherwise. For example, while Singapore (the most economically prosperous country in Southeast Asia) is clearly 'multilingual', most certainly, it is also linguistically tiered, with English being the most preferred language in public life and, in fact, also fast encroaching on the home domain as the language with the steadiest increase of use among Singaporeans (Tupas 2011;Zhao and Liu 2007). The official 'mother tongues' À Mandarin-Chinese, Malay and Tamil À have resulted in the marginalization of all other dialects and languages, for example, with the Chinese 'dialects' banned from public domains until recently, resulting in turn to impassioned language self-policing among Chinese Singaporeans upon whose shoulders the government places the sole burden to speak Mandarin and discard their own 'dialects' for pragmatic or instrumentalist reasons, and even due to linguistic chauvinist beliefs (Teo 2005). ...
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This paper discusses structural and ideological challenges to mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE) which has in recent years been gaining ground in many educational contexts around the world. The paper argues, however, that MTB-MLE is set against these challenges – referred to here as inequalities of multilingualism – which prevent MTB-MLE from being implemented successfully. The first section provides a brief background of significant phenomena which have led to the emergence of MTB-MLE as a viable form of education around the world. The second section describes some features of inequalities of multilingualism by situating the paper within sociolinguistic and sociopolitical contexts in Asia, especially Southeast Asia, to be followed further in the third section with a more targeted discussion of such inequalities using a recent case of linguistic discrimination in the Philippines as an example. The paper highlights the continuing vulnerabilities of mother tongues in education even if official discourse and policy seem to work for them.
... Empirical findings show that not only is the number of Chinese users in steady decline, but the prestige of the Chinese language has also fallen far behind English, as manifested in the division between those in the higher socioeconomic brackets who mainly use English and those in the lower brackets who prefer Chinese (Gupta, 1994;Kuo, 1977;Tan, 2003;Zhao & Liu, 2007b). Given that Singapore's population is three-quarters ethnic Chinese, 'the maintenance of a balance between English and Chinese language has long been perceived as essential for building a unique language ecology needed for Singapore's social cohesion and indeed nation building' (Shepherd, 2005, p. 13). ...
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Three-quarters of Singapore's population consists of ethnic Chinese, and yet, learning Chinese (Mandarin) has been a headache for many Singapore students. Recently, many scholars have argued that the rhetoric of language planning for Mandarin Chinese should be shifted from emphasizing its cultural value to stressing its economic value since China's economy is on the rise. Others have proposed that there be a wider use of Mandarin in domains outside the classroom. Given that Singapore's language planning uses a top-down model, these are issues that can only be left to the discretion of the authorities. This article traces the policies that have led to a decline in Chinese-language proficiency in Singapore. It then suggests how some changes can be made to help students have a chance to learn Mandarin in a progressive and effective way, thus saving Chinese-language proficiency in Singapore.
... The politics of language recognition in Singapore has given rise to an 'English Knowing' bilingualism phenomenon where large parts of the population are bilingual in English and their respective mother tongue (Pakir, 2008). However, there has been a pronounced language shift from mother tongue to English in recent years across all ethnic groups as a result of the legitimization of English in its political and social functions (Zhao and Liu, 2008). Nevertheless, like the Asian parents in North America, Singaporean parents have high expectations for their children's educational success. ...
Article
This article reports on an ethnographic study involving the literacy practices of two multilingual Chinese children from two similar yet different cultural and linguistic contexts: Montreal and Singapore. Using syncretism as a theoretical tool, this inquiry examines how family environment and support facilitate children’s process of becoming literate in multiple languages. Informed by sociocultural theory, the inquiry looks in particular at the role of grandparents in the syncretic literacy practices of children. Through comparative analysis, the study reveals similarities and differences that, when considered together, contribute to our understanding of multilingual children’s creative forms of learning with regard to their rich literacy resources in multiple languages, the imperceptible influences of mediators, various learning styles and syncretic literacy practices.
... The importance of family influence on preschoolers' language and literacy development has been discussed in other environments, especially when related to the prolonged purpose of maintaining an ethnic language or, in Singapore, a mother tongue. This has drawn the attention of Singapore government in recent years as a result of language shift (Zhao and Liu 2007). However, due to the rapid pace of social change in Singapore, little was delineated and known about Singaporean preschoolers' HLE and how these family factors may affect children's mother tongue development. ...
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In a bilingual environment such as Singaporean Chinese community, the challenge of maintaining Chinese language and sustaining Chinese culture lies in promoting the daily use of Chinese language in oral and written forms among children. Ample evidence showed the effect of the home language and literacy environment (HLE), on children’s language and literacy abilities. This study examined Singaporean Chinese–English bilingual children’s HLE and its influence on their Chinese oral and written language ability. Parents of seventy-six Chinese–English bilingual preschoolers completed a HLE survey. Children’s Chinese oral and written language abilities were measured with age appropriate tasks. Results of the HLE survey revealed that, on the average, children’s Chinese language and literacy related activities, either carried out independently or with parents, were not frequent, but correlated significantly with children’s oral and written language ability. A set of regression analyses showed that, after controlling for family socioeconomic status (SES), children’s language preference at home made a unique contribution, both to their Chinese language and literacy related activities and to their Chinese oral language ability. Similarly, children’s Chinese language and literacy related activities were found to make unique contribution to their Chinese written language ability after the effect of family SES and language preference was accounted for, emphasizing the crucial aspects of home literacy activities for developing children’s Chinese written language ability.
... By contrast, Mandarin, together with the other two mother tongues, is positioned as a second language in primary and secondary education with limited curriculum time. This English-dominant education system, along with many other factors, has given rise to many implications for CL education, such as an inexorable trend of the home language shift from Mandarin towards English, a rapid decline of the CL proficiency among students, and an obvious lack of motivation and interest in MTL learning (Lee 2013;Zhao and Liu 2010). ...
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The selection of standards and norms constitutes the first and most important step for language standardisation. In this paper, we examine the standard establishment for Huayu (or Singapore Mandarin), a new Chinese variety that has emerged in Singapore as a result of centralised planning and inter-linguistic contact. Huayu is the officially designated mother tongue of the Chinese community and a second language in school education in Singapore. The overall linguistic features of Huayu largely conform to the norms practiced in mainland China, though this localised variety has developed a number of distinctive phonological, lexical and grammatical features. Singapore’s government takes a Tacit Compliance Approach to the Mandarin norms, that is, exonormative standards are followed in an implicit manner. This pragmatic approach has engendered some confusion and dilemmas for Chinese language (CL) education in Singapore. Given the fact that Huayu is approaching a stage of nativisation, we propose the adoption of an explicit endonormative standard to cater to the pressing needs in CL teaching, learning and assessment.
... In the family system, a trend of home language shift across all ethnic groups has been noted in the past decade (e.g. Li, Tan, and Goh 2016;Singapore Departments of Statistics 2011;Zhao 2007), resulting in a discrepancy of home language input between English and MTLs in many families, including Chinese families. A 2015 survey showed that 37.4% of Chinese families used English as the most frequently spoken language, about 4.8% higher than that of the year 2010. ...
Article
This study elicited and analyzed all the Chinese and English interrogatives from the Singapore Early Child Mandarin Corpus (132 children aged 2;6, 3;6, 4;6, and 5;6) to examine the effects and predictors of early bilingual development in Singapore preschoolers. The results indicated that: (1) there was significant age (but not gender) effect in the production of Chinese and English interrogatives; (2) relatively more types of English interrogatives were produced and more preschoolers produced English interrogatives; (3) Parent Language Input Pattern significantly predicted the increase of Chinese interrogatives, whereas Parent Language Input Pattern and Language Spoken by Child jointly but negatively predicted English interrogatives; (4) the pattern that both parents only speak Chinese was associated with the highest production of Chinese interrogatives and the lowest production of English ones, whereas the pattern that both parents only speak English had the highest production of English interrogatives; and (5) the ‘one-parent-one-language’ pattern was found to have a balanced but reduced production of Chinese and English interrogatives, indicating a subtractive bilingualism in Singapore preschoolers.
... Although the primary school curriculum gives 'equal' emphasis on subjects -EL, MT, mathematics, and science (Primary 3 onwards), the demand for English proficiency is high as it directly affects children's academic performance. As a result, the emphasis on English has led to a gradual but significant shift to English where the social and communicative aspects of intergenerational transmission in MTs are slowly lost (Curdt-Christiansen 2014b ;Vaish 2007;Zhao and Liu 2007;Zhao and Zhang 2014). Consequently, the social functions of MT have gradually lost battle ground to English. ...
... Rather than a linguistic transfer explanation, then, we may find a more realistic account of this phenomenon in the realm of socioeconomic background. In Singapore, speaking Chinese as a home language is associated with lower education levels, lower-skilled occupations, and living in less expensive housing, relative to those who speak English (Zhao & Liu, 2007). Thus, this distinction between those who report speaking English as their primary home language versus those who speak Chinese at home may potentially be a case of socioeconomically advantaged students outperforming their peers. ...
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The present study investigates whether prior experience with formal study of an L2 influences L3 Korean learners’ Type 1 variation (i.e., use of obligatory forms) and Type 2 variation (i.e., variation between alternative acceptable variants). The patterns of variation in Korean argument realization of early bilingual learners (English-Chinese/Malay/Indonesian/Tamil) of L3 Korean were assessed in light of the distribution of variants present in classroom input, learners’ prior L2 learning experience and home language background, argument animacy and number, and familiarity of verb structure type. Our findings demonstrate that prior experience with a typologically-similar L2 facilitates acquisition of grammatical patterns as well as acquisition of native-like patterns of variation between grammatical forms that are constrained by a range of internal linguistic factors. Any L2 experience, regardless of typological proximity, is found to facilitate acquisition of internal linguistic constraints, but not acquisition of grammatical patterns.
... As a result of the younger generations being educated mainly in English, English has penetrated beyond formal domains, progressively becoming a language of personal communication, informal interaction and cultural expression . The government's dichotomized view of English as having economic utility and Chinese as having cultural functions has generated different attitudes towards these languages (Zhao & Liu, 2007, especially because English language proficiency to a large extent determines career progression and socio-economic status . More Chinese parents are choosing English as the preferred language of communication with their children (Department of Statistics, 2016;MOE, 2011), speeding up the rate at which English infiltrates the social sphere. ...
Chapter
Singapore has seen tremendous changes in its evolution of primary and secondary education although it is a young nation with only five decades of history. While the diversity of policies, programmes, and structures here have been myriad, certain fundamental principles have consistently guided policymakers over the years. These have included meritocracy, bilingualism, nation-building, multiple pathways for learning and, above all, human capital development of Singapore’s most precious resource––its people. Once these are brought into perspective, they make understandable the rationales behind a slew of policies and programmes that have shaped primary and secondary education here. While definitely not problem-free, the educational system in Singapore has matured into one that many elsewhere deem worthy of emulation.
... D. H. L. Lee, R. B. King Witnessing the examples of Chinese school graduates who struggled to find employment (Neo, 2007), parents rushed to enroll their children in English medium schools (Rodan, 1989). Correspondingly, Chinese Singaporean families experienced rapid conversions in home language from Chinese languages to English (Zhao & Liu, 2007). Arising from language policy, notable differences characterize the ''English speaking'' and ''Chinese speaking'' (Wagner, 2005). ...
Article
This paper examines the effects of English Childhood home language (CHL) on teacher risk taking and identity in a Chinese context where Chinese and English bilingualism is prioritized in its national school curriculum. Data were collected from 3388 Chinese Singaporean teachers. We used structural equation modeling to examine the relationships among CHL, risk taking, and teacher identification with student-centered practices. Results indicated that English-CHL professionals have stronger risk-taking tendencies compared with Chinese-CHL professionals, and that risk taking mediates the association between CHL and the likelihood of implementing student-centered practice. The results also indicate that CHL has direct effects on student-centered practice. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
... Language planning in Singapore is primarily concerned with language status, that is, the choice and spread of particular (prestigious) varieties among specific groups for specific functions. Language planning researchers (Stroud & Wee, 2007;Zhao & Liu, 2010;Tan, 2012) have commented that the status planning in Singapore overtly promotes and elevates official varieties while at the same time proscribing and denigrating other varieties. In contrast to the natural diversity of languages in its territory, Singapore, while still a British colony, adopted four official languages in the late 1950s, with English as the language of public administration, interethnic communication, education, and commerce, while Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil were declared to be the home languages, officially referred to as "mother tongues," of the three major ethnic groups. ...
Article
Singapore English is one of the best‐researched varieties of English in Asia, given E. L. Low's calculation that at that time there were over 200 studies of various aspects of Singapore English, and many more have been published since then. This chapter provides a snapshot of what Singapore English is. It gives a description of Singapore's past around the turn of the twenty‐first century, which is characterized by the type of superdiversity reported by present‐day scholars working on Europe, to show a form of “reverse‐superdiversity” at work in the past five decades which has resulted in transforming present‐day Singapore into a country where English holds the predominant place in the linguistic repertoire of all Singaporeans. Singapore English has been said to have phonological features that are more similar to British than to American English. The development of Singapore's bilingual education originated during colonial rule.
... Although this study comprised entirely ethnic Chinese Singaporeans, teachers in the Singapore sample nevertheless showed a preference toward converting to English HL when the situation allowed for it. Underlying this preference was the view of language as a form of capital that can augment the social position of those who can privatize the resource in the family domain (De Costa et al., 2016;Zhao & Liu, 2008). Local languages, or any Chinese language for that matter, hold low value as heritage language in the case of Singapore. ...
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This paper examines the unintended consequences of state language policy and planning (LPP) that adopt subtractive approaches on teachers’ subsequent receptivity to policy fine-tuning. A comparative approach is adopted in this statistical study of two strategic contexts, where the influence of the world’s two leading languages—English and Mandarin—manifests in the home language conversion patterns of ethnic Chinese teachers of Hong Kong and Singapore. The interplay among state, education, and family linguistic domains provides the framework to understand how teachers exercise agency underpinned by their sociolinguistic background (childhood home language—CHL) and home language conversion preference (home language as adult—HL). The results show that teacher CHL–HL conversion preferences underlie their response to state LPP initiatives and influence LPP outcomes in the education domain. The results are theorized in terms of the prevailing values in Hong Kong and Singapore that shape teacher agency, the unintended outcomes of subtractive LPP in education, and the probable outcomes on the linguistic vitality of local and dominant languages in Hong Kong, with the interplay between future subtractive LPP and teacher agency.
Article
This paper discusses Singapore's bilingual policy and looks at how the government's top-down and structured language policy has transformed the country into an English-knowing society. Education and language-in-education planning in Singapore are linked closely to the country's economic development and nation-building process. This pair of planning activities has been instituted to sustain Singaporean economic development, to establish a sense of Singaporean identity and to ensure national survival and economic success. In comparison with English policies in Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia, language planning in Singapore has several characteristics that are tailored to the polity's unique linguistic and social situation. First, the policy embraces a foreign language that belongs to none of the indigenous ethnic groups at independence, but yet it is learned by all as a ‘neutral’ language for effective communication. Secondly, the bilingual policy introduced in 1966 was an island-wide language transformation strategy to change Singapore into an English-knowing nation, and kindergartens and primary schools have been important contributors to this process. Thirdly, the Singapore government provides substantial funding for its education system and works closely with its Ministry of Education in designing the curriculum. This paper examines the assumptions that underlie these changes in Singapore's language-in-education policy, especially at the primary school level, and points out that this ‘success’ challenges the maintenance of the other pillar of the ‘English + 1’ bilingual policy, the learning of cultural/ethnic languages – that is, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. The interaction of English along with the three cultural/ethnic languages as well as other vernacular languages has contributed to forming Singlish, a Singaporean model of English that was originally spoken by older non-English-educated people who were forced to cope with English, but is now increasingly being used by younger people as a marker of identity.
Article
This review essay provides an overview of the poetry and essays in E. San Juan, Jr.'s Balikbayang Mahal: Passages from Exile. Close attention is paid to "Mask of the Poet," "Spring in Den Haag, Nederland, 25 March 2007," "Vicissitudes of the Love and Death of Vladimir Mayakovsky," and "Sa Loob at Labas Ng Bayan Kon Sawi: Emergency Signals from a Filipino Exile." The book as a whole combines the postmodern idea of the lack of authentic, monadic self with the ancient idea that everything is connected.
Article
In this essay, I will discuss the ideological structure of current postcolonial English language politics in the world, arguing that despite the "advances" in post-Independence nationalist rhetoric in most "postcolonial" countries, the debates on language continue to rehash tired voices of pragmatism and linguistic nationalism. I further argue that what is usually "notable" in current postcolonial English language politics is the disappearance or devaluing of class as a central concept in the understanding of postcolonial language and society. I will discuss these arguments through my review of Ramanathan's The English-Vernacular Divide: Postcolonial Language Politics and Practice. I claim that the book's powerful arguments run against dominant perspectives on the role of English and local languages in many societies today. The book's main argument that English still divides could be a stirring response to those who maintain that English, through its hybrid, localized and "fighting back" forms, is now stripped of its colonial trappings and baggage.
Chapter
Discussion of Singapore’s system of Chinese language education and assessment policy requires consideration of the wider political and socio-economic background of this dynamic Asian sovereign city-state. This chapter shows how recent reforms to the Chinese language education and examination system are more fully understood in terms of Singapore’s historical development between 1965 and 2021, alongside broader social and political factors. The chapter is presented in two substantive sections. The first section outlines the development of Singapore’s education and examination system. This is followed by scrutiny of Singapore’s Chinese language education and assessment policy with particular reference to key terms pertinent to this research, such as “mother tongue” and “bilingual policy”. The chapter addresses the limitations of the current bilingual policy and explores the policy’s implications for how the Chinese language is perceived, taught and examined in Singapore. Concluding comments argue that it is imperative for each actor involved in Singapore’s Chinese language education and assessment processes to remain receptive to recommendations and current influences.
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The current study reports a quantitative investigation of the linguistic landscape (LL) in Singapore's Chinatown. The database of the study comprises a total of 831 instances of signs in the form of photographs that were collected in Chinatown. The study finds that English dominates the LL while Mandarin Chinese is ranked as the second frequently used language. The study also identifies significant differences in LL features between top-down and bottom-up signs. Specifically, these differences include what languages are used; monolingual, bilingual and multilingual compositions; code preference; and forms of Chinese scripts. The present study suggests that English now dominates the linguistic landscape of Chinatown. Even though many scholars have described the sociolinguistic situation in Singapore as being 'English-knowing' , the data shows a shift towards being 'English-dominant' , suggesting a gradual but sustained dilution of its multilingual ethos. The study also complicates our understanding of the dominance of English in multilingual societies such as Singapore, where a competing dominant language (Mandarin Chinese) may be seen to continue to exert considerable influence on the dynamics of English-dominant language use but, at the same time, whose main function is shifting towards the symbolic rather than communicative.
Chapter
This chapter drew upon two theoretical perspectives to formulate the hypothesis framework of this study, namely, the bilingualism perspective of language input and output, and the approach of bilingual continuum. The framework is defined as the Continua of Mandarin Competence in relation to home language exposure. Based on the Dynamic System Theory (DST), this framework aims to encapsulate the complex Mandarin competence of Singapore Chinese-English bilingual children in relation to their Mandarin exposure. Specifically, this framework consists of three continua, i.e., the Home language Exposure continuum, the Mandarin Linguistic Competence continuum, and the Alternative Communicative Competence continuum (seen only from the code-switching perspective). In these continua, it is hypothesized that children’s Mandarin exposures positively predicts their linguistic competence (in terms of lexical diversity and syntactic complexity while it negatively predicts their alternative communicative competence (in terms of code-switching to English).
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This paper aims to analyse and reveals how the construction of new identities in urban communities, on the outskirts of Bandung is displayed through kinship address terms. The theory used is Jenkins (2008) identity theory using Baurdrillard's (1983) perspective in seeing the relationship between reality, symbols, and society. Baudrillard explains that the typical character of today’s community is a simulation community. Furthermore, they are being explained as community who lives with crisscross code and signs. Hereafter, language, especially the address terms of kinship will be placed as a cultural discourse. The method used to see these cultural phenomena is literature and field studies. Field studies focused on distributing questionnaires to informants. Field data is then processed based on theories that have been obtained through literature study. The results of this study indicate that there is a shift in the function of kinship address terms from use-value to sign-value or symbol-value. Signs and values which consist of status, prestige, style expression, lifestyle, can be the main motives for the abovementioned changes kinship address terms.
Chapter
The SMC has been in existence for more than three decades in Singapore. Various surveys conducted by the government have shown that the campaign has been successful in persuading Chinese dialect-speakers to discard the use of Chinese dialects and switch to speaking Mandarin. However, a main repercussion of the campaign is the decline in use of Chinese dialects within the local Chinese community. As a result of the SMC, a majority of elderly dialect speakers are unable to communicate with the ruling English-speaking elites in society due to their handicap in English and Mandarin. Although the campaign has been successful, there are some challenges that may threaten the impact of the campaign. Due to the encroachment of English in the home environment, younger generation of Chinese are aligning themselves with English more than Mandarin. In addition, an increasing number of students from English-speaking homes are also experiencing some difficulties in learning the Chinese language. This chapter discusses the various issues that arise as a result of the success of the SMC. The chapter concludes with some possible areas for future research on the SMC.
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In the early 1990s, the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) enacted educational reform. It officially abandoned its English-only policy at elementary school level, in favour of community languages. In response, the Kairak community of East New Britain Province developed a vernacular literacy programme. This paper, based on original fieldwork research in PNG, assesses the viability of Kairak vernacular literacy in the context of the community's broader literacy practices. While mother tongue literacy is generally regarded by linguists and policy-makers as the best-case scenario, it can pose a variety of practical challenges in the classroom. This paper examines the community's micro-planning processes and cautions that the agents of micro planning must be wary of applying, wholesale, the policies of neighbouring communities to their own situation (“copycat” language planning (LP)). It also discusses the influence that language ideologies (vis-à-vis the vernacular, Tok Pisin, and English) have on LP. The paper concludes by recommending that in rural elementary schools with mixed linguistic populations, PNG's (northern) lingua franca, Tok Pisin, may in fact be a more sensible choice for the teaching of initial literacy.
Article
In 1966, the Singapore Government implemented the English-knowing bilingual policy which made it mandatory for all Chinese students to study English as a ‘First Language’ and the Chinese language (CL) as a ‘Mother Tongue Language’ in Singapore schools. Using key literature relevant to Singapore's bilingual educational policy and adopting a wider sociohistorical, sociocultural and sociopolitical analysis [May, S. (2006). Language policy and minority rights. In T. Ricento (Ed.), An introduction to language policy (pp. 255–272). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing], this paper critically evaluates mother tongue education in Singapore. It argues that maintaining additive bilingualism in multilingual Singapore is problematic because English, a majority language with greater political power, privilege and social prestige in the local linguistic landscape, has come to replace the range and functions of Chinese, a minority language within the linguistic ecology of Singapore. The inevitable result is that speakers of Chinese experience a ‘shift’ to speaking the majority language and there is a fear that Chinese will erode further as an increasing number of younger Chinese Singaporeans display a lack of interest in learning their mother tongue due to a dominant English education and the overwhelming presence of English in Singapore's society. This paper draws attention to the need to accord protection to the CL in order to maintain additive bilingualism in Singapore.
Book
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This collection brings together theory and ethnographic research from a range of national contexts to offer unique insights into the nature of agency in language policy and planning. Situated within a broader sociological framework, the book explores agentive processes at work in case studies from around the world, engaging in discussions of such key themes as language and identity, language ideologies, linguistic diversity in education, and language revitalization. Each chapter examines the ways in which decisions made at both the local and national level impact language use and in turn, the dynamic relationship between language use, policy, and practice in these contexts. Taken together, this volume advances our understanding of agency in language policy and planning and directions for future research, making this key reading for students and scholars in language and education, critical sociolinguistics, and applied linguistics.
Chapter
The present paper, drawing upon the theoretical framework on why educational language plans fail (Kaplan et al. Current Issues in Language Planning,12(2), 105–124, 2011), and adopting a wider sociohistorical, sociocultural and sociopolitical analysis, critically evaluates the English-knowing bilingual school policy in Singapore. Implemented in 1966, the English-knowing bilingual policy was made mandatory for all students in Singapore to study English as a ‘First Language’ and a ‘mother tongue’ language (Malay, Tamil or Chinese) as a ‘Second Language.’ Since its implementation, the English-knowing bilingual educational policy has been a highly emotive controversial subject in Singapore as various stakeholders-policy makers, educators, parents, students and administrators-debated on various issues confronting bilingual education in the nation. In this regard, the issues under examination are: the perceived decline in the English standards, the prevalence of Colloquial Standard English or Singlish in schools, the lack of English proficiency of English teachers, the decline of Chinese literacy amongst Chinese students, the loss of Chinese-medium education, the inequalities between the English-speaking and Chinese-speaking citizenry, the decline of the mother tongue learning in schools and the language shift to English in particular amongst Chinese families.
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This study examined the similarities and differences in the functioning of component processes underlying first language (L1) and second language (L2) word reading in Chinese. Fourth-grade Chinese children in Singapore were divided into L1 and L2 reader groups based on whether they used Mandarin or English as their home language. Both groups were administered a battery of tasks that assessed their orthographic processing skill (OP), phonological awareness (PA), morphological awareness (MA), oral vocabulary knowledge, as well as the ability to decode characters and multi-character compound words. Separate Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) analyses showed that in the L1 group, over and above all other variables, both OP and MA, as opposed to PA, were significant predictors of word reading, whereas in the L2 group, OP and PA, as opposed to MA, predicted word reading. Multiple-group SEM analysis further revealed that the effects of OP and MA were significantly larger in the L1 than in the L2 group, whereas a converse pattern was found for PA. These findings are discussed in light of the linguistic and language-to-print mapping properties of Chinese as well as the influence of L1 and L2 learners’ differential experience on how they learn to read in Chinese.
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To date, there has not been a large corpus of research looking at how different Chinese populations perceive language to be a part of their Chinese ethnicity. Even where this has been done, no attempts have been made to compare these perceptions across Chinese populations of different polities, to see if and how they differ. To fill this gap, this paper examines and compares the relationship between Mandarin-Chinese, " dialects " , and English, and the construction of Chinese ethnicity amongst Chinese Malaysians, Chinese Singaporeans, and Mainland Chinese. It does this through a questionnaire study employing 100 participants from each group, taking into account beliefs about the importance of these languages to the everyday experience of being Chinese, self-declared language proficiency, and self-declared language use. The results of the study suggest that " dialects " are becoming less important to Chinese ethnicity amongst all three groups, particularly amongst Chinese Singaporeans. Meanwhile, English is becoming more important amongst Chinese Malaysians and Chinese Singaporeans, once again particularly amongst the latter. While Chinese Malaysians continue to perceive Mandarin-Chinese as being the language most important to Chinese ethnicity, Chinese Singaporeans' beliefs reflect English's dominance over Mandarin-Chinese in nearly every aspect of everyday social life. These findings underscore how Chinese ethnicities in different parts of the world need to be understood on their own terms, and how language can be a vital clue as to how different Chinese ethnicities are constructed in the global context.
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This paper focuses on the active Daoist youths (ages 15 to 30) of Singapore as youths are the parents, decision-makers, business people and leaders of tomorrow. Their behavior, attitudes and beliefs affect the political, economic and social future of a nation. During this phase, religion or more generally, religiosity has begun to play a large part upon how these young adults view the world. Important questions of identity and meaning are formed during this period. However, research on religious development in youth is a much neglected area, as can be observed by the lack of research and surveys available. The study takes an interdisciplinary approach by incorporating the contributions of linguistics, political economy, history and sociology so as to provide a wider and more balanced analysis. Data was collected from interviews and questionnaires on 19 active Daoist youths, participant observation and focus-group discussion. Questions of interest in this study include: What, for example, is the basis of choice of a speaker’s religious ideology? How does a youth define Daoism? Who are the Daoist youths in Singapore? How do they define Daoism? What are their social cultural backgrounds? What are their aspirations? How much does a youth know about Daoism? What are their language(s) of communication? Of special interest is the study of the rise of world languages such as English and Mandarin at the expense of Chinese dialects.
Article
The aim of this paper is to clarify some notions about image and prestige planning. Starting from the Welsh example of language policy aiming to revitalise a language in danger of further decreasing in number of speakers and in centrality to Welsh life, definitions of four related terms are explored: image, status, prestige and identity. Paired relationships are suggested: image is a non-factual version of the semi-factual identity of a society, while prestige is the result of an attitudinal stance towards the semi-factual status of a language within a language ecology. Planning to modify status or identity is often regarded as ‘real’ planning, similar to planning for social or economic change, while modifications of prestige or image require emotional manipulation, like commercial marketing. More detailed analysis of a range of planning examples enables distinctions to be made between image planning as a stage in identity formation and consolidation, and prestige planning as attitudinal change. The differences may also lie in a possible interpretation of image planning as long-term, idealistic and rooted in beliefs of the equality of languages, as opposed to short-term, policy-oriented prestige planning reminiscent of military conflict and a strong awareness of dominance.
Article
This paper examines the historical and current connections between English language education policy and economic development policy in Singapore. Policy statements on English language education policy in Singapore are used to demonstrate the ways that English is given a role in economic development and modernization by government officials and educators. The discourse of policy statements on the economic utility and cultural value of languages is discussed with reference to Bourdieus concepts of capital and field. Comparative reference is made to policy statements on so-called Mother Tongue. The analysis provides background on language policy in Singapore and locates current reform efforts within that discourse.
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The impossibility of stating precisely how many “languages” or “dialects” are spoken in the world is due to the ambiguities of meaning present in these terms, which is shown to stem from the original use of “dialect” to refer to the literary dialects of ancient Greece. In most usages the term “language” is superordinate to “dialed,” but the nature of this relationship may be either linguistic or social, the latter problem falling in the province of sociolinguistics. It is shown how the development of a vernacular, popularly called a dialect, into a language is intimately related to the development of writing and the growth of nationalism. This process is shown to involve the selection, codification, acceptance, and elaboration of a linguistic norm.
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