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Exploring Contested Language Ideologies in Kiribati

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1
Chapter 17
Exploring Contested
Language Ideologies
in Kiribati
INDIKA LIYANAGE AND TONY WALKER
Liyanage, I., & Walker, T. (2021). Exploring contested language ideologies
in Kiribati. In R. Rubdy & R. Tupas (Eds.), Bloomsbury World Englishes (Vol.
2, pp. 288-305). London: Bloomsbury
Link:https://www.bloomsburycollections.com/book/bloomsburyworldenglishesvolume2
ideologies/ch17exploringcontestedlanguageideologiesinkiribati 
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I. INTRODUCTION
TheascendancyofneoliberalideologiesinconcertwithglobalizationhaselevatedEnglishtothestatus
of“hypercentral”(Aronin2015)globallanguagethat,inthewordsof(Heller2010:102),“isnota
reflectionofthesocialorderbutispartofwhatmakesithappen.”Consequently,thelanguageis
endowedwithrarelychallengeduniversalprestigeanddesirabilityashumancapitalthatleverage
accesstomaterialresources,socioeconomicmobility,andglobalorientedopportunities.Asanobject
ofdesire,ratherthanbeingvaluedforitsmorebasiccommunicative,identity,andculturalusesand
functions,Englishisacommoditywithexchangevalue(Block2010)inmarketizationoftheselfto
achieveeconomicandsocialbenefits(Park2011).Thisinstrumentalviewofadirectrelationbetween
acquisitionofthecommodityoflanguageabilityasatechnicalskillandeconomicbenefitfor
individualshasbeenchallenged(Pennycook2007,Kubota2011),andlanguagedesireassociatedwith
moreabstractexperiencesoftheglobalizedpresent(Kubota2011,Takahashi2013).However,the
pervasivenessoffreemarketdoctrinesofindividualselfdevelopmentasmarketablehumancapital
andthehypercentralityofEnglishhavenaturalized(PillerandCho2013)theuseofEnglishasa
languagevaluableaboveallothers,makingit“aperfectobjectofdesire(anddispute)”(Canale2015:
18)(Kubota2011,Takahashi2013).MothaandLin(2014:,drawingontheworkof(Ahmed2010),
proposethatdesiresforEnglisharegroundedinitsassociationwithhappiness.Thissensethat
individualswithEnglishproficiencyare,orwillbe,betteroff‐andhappier‐arguablyprovidesthe
fundamentalideologicalbasethatdrivestheEnglishlanguageteaching(ELT)enterprise,andsustains
theindividualspromotingit,indevelopingeconomysettingssuchasKiribati.Thedesirabilitywith
whichthisinvestsEnglishisthenthegroundsfordiscursiveconstructionoftheviewthatanabsence
orlackofEnglishisanimpedimenttoachievingtheobjectofhappiness,andthusundesirable(Motha
andLin2014).Reconceptualizingmotivationtolearnlanguageasasocialandideologicalconstruct,
desire,orlackthereof,weargue,acknowledgestheinteractionofindividualagencyandsocio
historicalandstructuralcircumstances,andthesignificanceoflearningandusinganadditional
languageforsocialorganisationandpowerrelationsinandbetweensocialgroups.Theaffective
dimensionofEnglishlanguagelearninginasettingsuchasKiribatiisasiteoftensionsbetween
individualsubjectivities,localconventions,andgeopoliticalimperativeswiththepotentialtodisrupt
socialstructuresandrelations(Park2015).Ourpositioninthischapter,then,isthatneoliberal
positioningof(theEnglish)languageasnothingmorethananeutraltechnicizedandmarketableskill
ignorestheaffectivedimensionsoflanguageandthehistoricalstructuralcontextsofuse.
AmongIKiribati(thepeopleofKiribati),thestatusofEnglishasavaluableandthusdesirable
commodity,thatis,asanobjectofhappiness,iscontestedthroughpracticesofshaming.These
shamingpracticesareovertsocialactionsthatbothmarkandconstituteanideologicaldivideinthe
localpopulationaroundlanguage,andacontemporaryapplicationofapracticethatinthepasthas
servedtoenactfundamentalideologiesinordertounifyandsustainthestabilityoflocalvalues
(GutiérrezandRogoff2003).Internationalaidanddevelopmentexperts,forwhomthedesirabilityof
Englishhas“becomeincorporatedintothecommonsensewayweinterpret,livein,andunderstand
theworld.”(Harvey2005:23),areconfoundedbythelackofdesireforEnglish,frustratedintheir
attemptstoengendersuchdesire,anddisparagetheintegrityoflocalnormsascontraryto“rational
choiceandutilitymaximization”(McElhinny2010:315).Theydenigratethepracticesofshaming,
whichmanylocalsregardassocialmechanismsthathaveservedthemwellinthepast,asimpeding
timelyresponsestochallengesfacingtheIKiribatiandaccesstoprogress(andhappiness)thatthey
believeEnglishrepresents.Inthecontextofcompetingdesires,wearguetheIKiribatihave
(re)constitutedthestatusofEnglishinmorepragmaticterms,accommodatedandsubordinated
amongstmorepowerfuldesiresaroundlocalideologiesofcommunitycohesionratherthanself
marketization.
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InthecaseofELTinKiribatiarticulatedinthischapter,wediscusstheideologicalbasesofthe
shamingpracticesthatmarkdivisionwithinthelocalpopulation,andbetweenthiselementofthe
localpopulationandoutsideforeignELTexpertsandadvisors.ThesituationinKiribati,wesuggest,
offersalocalinsightintotensionsarisinginELTundertheinfluenceofneoliberalideas:“the
abandonmentofthesocialandcooperativeethicinfavourofindividualistandcompetitivebusiness
models”(Block,Grayetal.2012:6)oftheself.Weconsiderwhetherabalancecanbefoundbetween
competingideologiesthatwillallowaplaceforEnglishthatalignswiththecommunityvalues,whether
shamingpracticescanberecognized,deconstructed,reconstructedandintegratedinELTpracticesas
apositivepathwaytonegotiationofidentitiesthataccommodateapowerfuldominantlanguage
withoutthreateninglocalsolidaritiesandcommunitycohesion.Wedrawontheperspectivesof
selectedlocalsandforeignexpertstoforegroundtheideologicalcomplexitiesoforientationstoshame
relatedtodesiresforteaching,learning,andusingEnglishinKiribati.Theseperspectiveswere
gatheredusingopenendedinterviewsduringacollaborativedevelopmentprojectbetweenthe
GovernmentsofKiribatiandAustraliathataimedtofacilitateemploymentopportunitiesforIKiribati
youth.Interviewswithsixeducationists,partofongoingobservationsprojectedforalarger
ethnographicproject,areusedforpurposeshighlightedwithinthischapter.Asourfocushereisto
compareideologicalperspectivesthatcomplicateanddisruptenactmentoftheprojectofELTin
Kiribati,ourdiscussionisbasedonabalancedrepresentationoflocalandforeignprofessionalsdirectly
involvedinrealizationofthatendeavour‐threelocalteachers(onefemale&twomale)andthree
foreignexperts(twofemale&onemale).Weacknowledgethattheperspectivesonshamingofthe
threelocalparticipantsreflecttheirownpositionsaslocalsandasmembersofaneducatedEnglish
proficientelite,andthatthisshapestheirconstructionoftheactionsandattitudesofthelocalsthey
describe.Thatthesameappliestotheoutsidersisassumed.
Ofthelocalparticipants,ZameetaistheprincipalofaHighSchoolandanEnglishteacherwho
completedherpostgraduatestudiesinAustralia.Ofthetwolocalmales,Wanga,whocompletedhis
doctoralstudiesinAustralia,isthedirectorofaUniversityCampuslocatedinTarawa,whilstAtangis
agraduatefromaFijianUniversity,andworkingasanEnglishteacheratahighschool.Ofthethree
foreignexperts,Johnwasaseniorembassyofficialinchargeofoverseasaidandculturalaffairs.Jill
andElainewereemployedasoverseasconsultantstoimproveEnglishlanguageandliteracyskillsin
thecountry.AllthreeforeignexpertsarefirstlanguagespeakersofEnglish.
Eachinterviewlastedbetween7090minutes,andinterviewquestionsexploredparticipants’
perceptionsofshameandshaminginrelationtoEnglishlanguageteachingandlearninginKiribati.
Weadoptedselectivecoding(Clarke,2005)oftheinterviewdatafordifferentexplanationsofthe
manifestations,causes,andconsequencesofshamingpractices.
II. KIRIBATI
Afterfortyyearsofindependence,theRepublicofKiribatiisonetheleastperformingPacificnations
onarangeofeconomic,environmentalandsocialdevelopmentindicators,(Weber2016).Giventhese
conditionsandKiribati’spostcolonialhistoricalcircumstances,itsvulnerabilitytosocialandcultural
disruptionandtoeconomicdependence,andrelianceupontheassistanceandwhimsofpowerful
neighboursandthedictatesofinternationalorganizations,appearssettocontinue.Anyvulnerability
isunarguablyaccentuatedbytheinescapablerealityofitsgeographyinthecontextofpredicted
impactsofclimaticchanges.
The800squarekilometresoflandmassinthreeislandgroupsthatconstitutesKiribatiis
scatteredacrossmorethanthreemillionsquarekilometresofthemidPacificOcean(Tisdell2002).
TwelveofKiribati’sthirtytwocoralatollsandreefislandshavenopermanentinhabitants(Storeyand
Hunter2010).MostofthelandareaontheatollsandreefislandsofKiribatiislessthanthreemetres
abovesealevelwithlimitedfreshwater,andlimitedarablelandwithverypoorsoils(Loughryand
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McAdam2008).Themostabundantnaturalresourceisfish,andIKiribationtheouterislandslive
subsistencelifestyles(LoughryandMcAdam2008,StoreyandHunter2010).
InitialcontactswithEuropeanandAmericantradersandwhalersledsomeIKiribati,as
seafaringpeople,tojointhecrewsofthesevessels(Gheuens2017),andthosethatreturnedhad
usuallylearnedthelanguage/sofoutsiderssufficientlytoactasintermediariesfortradingactivities
(Macdonald1982).Theseintermittentcontactswerefollowedbythearrivalsinthenineteenth
centuryofEnglishandFrenchspeakingmissionaryorganizationsthatdevelopedwrittenformsofte
taetaeniKiribati(theKiribatilanguage,hereafter,Kiribati),thelocalvernacularusedthroughout
Kiribati,althoughwithslightvariationsindialectacrosstheislands.Missionaries’proselytizing
activitieswereconductedinthelocallanguage(Burnett2005),andtothisend,missionschools
pursuedlanguageeducationinthevernacular(Lotherington1998),despitethereportedpreferences
oflocalstowhom“theutilityoftheforeignlanguagewasobvious”(Macdonald1982:35).Asthetrade
incommodities,suchascoconutoil,thencopra,andlabour,assumedmoreimportance,itbecame
inevitablethataEuropeanimperialpowerclaimed‘ownership’oftheislandsthatconstitutemodern
Kiribati.DuringBritain’scontroloftheislandsuntilindependencein1979,Englishwastheofficial
languageofcolonialactivities,butservedasa“technologyofexclusion”(Burnett2005:101),access
toformalEnglishlanguageinstructionandEnglishmediumeducationbeingavailableinitiallyonlyto
aselectfewmalesinonegovernmentschoolestablishedinthe1920s,untilanotherforgirlswas
establishedpostWorldWarTwo.EnglishandKiribatibecamemarkersamonglocalsofsocioeconomic
andideologicaldivision,amanifestationofthe“thecolonialtensionbetweendesiringsamenessand
differenceinthecolonised”(Burnett2005:100).
Sinceindependencein1948,schoolingcontinuestofollowcolonialcurriculumand
organizationmodels;nineyearsofschoolingarefreeandcompulsorythroughprimaryandjunior
secondaryschools.Undercurrentpolicy,Kiribatiisthemediumofinstructionintheearlyyearsand
Englishintroducedasanadditionallanguage,leadingtotransitiontoEnglishmediuminstructionfrom
themiddleyearsofschooling.TheKiribatiDevelopmentPlan(20162019),supportedbytheAustralian
GovernmentsponsoredKiribatiEducationImprovementProgram(seeSmithandMcNaughton2018)
prioritizesaccelerationofthetransitionintoEnglishinprimaryandjuniorsecondaryschoolsas“the
criticalfoundationforongoinglearninganddevelopment”(RepublicofKiribati2016:20).Entrytofour
yearsofseniorsecondaryschoolingisregulatedbyexaminations,inEnglish,andbythelevyingoffees.
Thestateoperatesallprimaryandjuniorsecondaryschools,andthreeseniorsecondaryschools;
Christianchurchesoperatefifteencombinedjunior/seniorsecondaryandseniorsecondaryschools,
accountingforsixtypercentofseniorsecondaryenrolments(RepublicofKiribatiMinistryofEducation
2014).HighereducationisavailableattheUniversityoftheSouthPacificExtensionCentre,Kiribati
TeachersCollege,KiribatiInstituteofTechnology,theKiribatiNursingCollege,theMarineTraining
Centre,theFisheriesTrainingCentre,andthePoliceTrainingCentre,alllocatedinthecapital,Tarawa
(Liyanage2009,RepublicofKiribatiMinistryofEducation2014).(RepublicofKiribati2016,Smithand
McNaughton2018)
III. LINGUISTICSHAMEANDLANGUAGELEARNING
Therelationbetweendesirefor(English)languageandshameiscomplex,andshameandshaming
practicescannotbetheorizedsimplyastheabsenceorlackofdesire.Ratherthevarious
manifestationsofshamerevealdifferentandsometimescontradictorymeaningsattributedto
languageuse.InthecontextofEnglishandEnglishlanguageteaching(ELT),thepowerfulideologies
thatunderpinthedominanceofEnglishcanevokeshameinindividualsorgroupsforuseofa
first/minoritylanguage,spurringthedesireforEnglish.Conversely,despitelearners’desirestolearn
anduseEnglish,ideologiesthatvalorizedominantvarietiescanprovokeanticipationsofshame,and
reluctancetousethetargetlanguage,basedonfearsofridiculefrom‘nativespeakers’orpeersfor
failingtodemonstratecontroloflanguage‘norms’.Thisdimensionofshamecanbeoverlaidwith
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shameandshamingaroundthecomplexitiesofthemeaningsoflanguageforidentitythat
multilingualscanexperienceinthetensionsbetweenuseofdominantandminoritylanguages.
Shameasanemotionalresponsehasbeentheorizedasbothapsychologicalandsociological
phenomenon(ScheffandRetzinger2000,Scheff2001,Shweder2003,HolodynskiandKronast2009,
Crozier2014).HereweadopttheviewofScheff(2001:266&268)thatshameis“thefeelingofa
threattothesocialbondcruciallyinvolvedinthestructureandchangeofwholesocieties.”Asa
meansofsocialcontrol,theanticipationofshameisarguablyaspowerfulastheexperienceofshame
itself(Scheff2001).Thekeyroleoflanguageinconstitutionofsocialbondsmeanslanguageusecan
havemeaningsorideologicalassociationsthatviolateorthreatensocialbondsandboundaries.
Instancesoflinguisticshameshamerelatedtolanguageuseincludeuseofbothmothertongues
andadditionallanguages.Insettingswhereanadditionalorsecondlanguageisdominant,first
languageuseasasourceofshamehasbeenobservedinthechildrenofmigrants(Holodynskiand
Kronast2009)andinthosewhofearstigmatizationasuneducatedorbackward(LopezQuiroz,1990,
inCoronelMolina1999,McCarty,RomeroLittleetal.2006).Whilesuchexamplessuggestadesireto
acquireanduseadominant/additionallanguage,shamehasalsobeendocumentedinopposing
circumstances.Forexample,ithasbeendocumentedarounduseofanadditionallanguage,
particularlyamonglearnerswhooftenavoidtargetlanguageusebecausetheyanticipateor
experienceshamebecauseofridiculeorrejectioniftheydomeettheirownorothers’expectations
orstandards(ZimbardoandRadl1981,Miccoli1997,SoandDominguez2005,GarrettandYoung
2009,Imai2010).Studiesoflearners’willingnesstocommunicate(Aragão2011,Cao2014)inlanguage
classroomsusingthetargetlanguagegenerallyattributeabsenceofsuchwillingness,whichis
widespreadinEnglishclassroomsinKiribati,toindividualfactorsthatindominantlanguage
pedagogiesrequireremediationiflearningistobesuccessful(HumphreysandWyatt2014).Following
Park(2015:,weexplainthisasasubjectivesocialconditionoriginatinginresponsestohistorical
structuralcircumstancessurroundingthetargetlanguageincontext.
Ourlocalparticipantswereexplicitintheiridentificationof‘mechanismsinsocietythat
reallyaffectthewayourstudentsarelearningEnglish’(Wanga:4852).Thesemechanismsare
complex,andtheirvisibilityinattitudesandbehavioursinvolvinglanguageuseareinstantiatedinthe
intersectionoflocalconventions,attitudesandvalues,andtheaftermathandlegaciesof(British)
colonialism.BothlocalandoutsiderparticipantsemphasisetheverystrongdeterminationofIKiribati
toretaintheircultureandidentity,althoughtheirperspectivesontheramificationsofthisaremixed.
Akeyelementofthispriorityisthatthey‘pridethemselvesonbeingegalitarianandnothavingaclass
structure.Sotheydon’twantanythingthatundermines[this]’(Jill:273274).Wangaexplainsthe
implicationsofviolationsofculturalboundariesthatthreatencommunitysolidarityonthisissue:
oneofthemostimportantthingsinKiribatilifeistheavoidanceofbeingshamed,youknowAnd
oneofthethingsthatbringsshametoyouiswhenyoutrytobedifferentfromtherestnotonly
differentbutalsoaboveeveryoneelse.Weweretaughtthroughoursocialisationandwhenwe
weresmallthateveryoneisequalandyoucannotbeaboveeveryoneelse.Sowhenpeople
ridiculeyoutheyareinfactpullingyoudowntotheirsamelevel.(Wanga:3843,160163)
ThecomplexityofattitudestoEnglishwillbecomeclearerasthischapterprogresses,butin
termsofequality,tousealanguageotherthanKiribatiisregardedasaninstanceoftryingtobe
‘differentfromtherest’,and‘realpressuretospeakKiribati’(Jill,126127)acrosswork,social,and
familycontextsisexperiencedbyeventhemostEnglishproficientlocalssuchasourparticipants.
Followingtheperiodofcolonialrule,duringwhichEnglishhadasignificantpresence,thereinvigorated
prideinthe‘local’manifestedindisparagementofuseoflanguage/sotherthanKiribati.Thiswas
coupledwithstructuralchangesinpublicinstitutionstoprovideconditionsthathave,overtheforty
yearssinceindependence,effectivelymarginalizedtheuseofEnglish.
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Wegotintothelocalisationthing,straightafterindependence,youknowthereisthatthingthat
weareindependentandwedon’thavetobeliketheBritishanymore.Andthereisthatrushto
localisethingsyouknow,teachersinschoolsandallthat.….AndEnglishwasthelanguageof
instructionandsocialisationanditalsowasthelanguageoutsideclassroom.Andwewere
encouragedtodothat.Butafterthat,whenlocalteachersstartedtocomeinthey,sortofteachin
their.......inKiribatiandthewholethingisinfactchangedalmosttobeadifferentschool
altogetherfromtheonethatweknewinthosedays.(Wanga:7283)
ThestructuraltransformationtolocalstaffingintheKiribatieducationsystemintandemwith
thesocialconsequencesoftheshameofusingalanguageotherthanKiribatihasproducedateaching
cohortthatingenerallackstheproficiencyandtheconfidencetobesuccessfulEnglishlanguage
teachers.
.....theydon’thaveconfidenceormaybethey’renotwelltrainedormaybetheirexposureto
Englishisnotverymuchifyoudon’thavemuchexposuretoalanguagethenyousurelycannot
useit.Andso,itcanaffectyourteachingorthewayofcommunicatewiththestudentsinEnglish.
(Atang:126130)
AlthoughourlocalparticipantsconfirmedthatlearnersandusersgenerallyavoidEnglish
languageuse,especiallyinthepresenceofotherlocals,thisreluctancetouseEnglishismore
complicatedthanmereanticipationofridiculeorrejection.LocalscananddouseEnglishwhen
necessary.‘…withsomeofthemthey’reactuallyembarrassedthattheirEnglishisn’tbetter[and]
willopenlyadmititnowbecausewehaveastrongrelationship’(Jill:100102),but‘Kiribatipeople
[who]canoperateinmeetings,speaktoeachotherinEnglishandthingslikethat,arereluctantto
speakinEnglishtoeachother(John:1820).ThereislesstrepidationaboutusingEnglishwithan
outsiderwhocannotuseKiribatibecauseif‘thestructureofyoursentenceisnotcorrect,theycannot
laugh.Theystillacceptyou[but]whenyoumakemistakesinfrontofKiribatipeopletheywilleasily
laugh’(Atang:161162).ThelaughterreflectsthehistoricalstructuralcircumstancesofBritishcolonial
rulethatnowstigmatizeEnglishlanguageuseasanattempttobedifferentfromtherest,but
accentuated,wesurmise,byperceivedfailureoftheattempttoemulatethewaysofoutsiders,
because,asJohnputsit,theyare‘pretendingtobeyouknow,likeme,whentheyarenot.Whenthey
arenotlikemeatall.They’reKiribati’(John:147148).
ThereareapparentsimilaritiesbetweentheshamingpracticesoftheIKiribatiandsome
reportedintheliteraturefromothersettingsinwhichtheuseofEnglishincertaincontextsisviewed
asathreattosocialbondsbasedonidentityandmembershipofpeerorcommunitygroups.In
Singapore,forexample,somestudentsreportthatuseofEnglishoutsideclassroomsisscornedas
displayingasenseofsuperiority,andassnobbery(Stroud&Wee,2007),andinSriLanka,usingEnglish
insomesettingsisridiculed,equatedwitha‘sword’usedtocutdownthestatusofinterlocutors
(Kandiah,1979).InIndonesia,useofEnglishhasbeenequatedwith“pretendingtobeaWesterner”
(Lamb&Coleman,2008,p.199).Butinthesesettingsthereareothercontextsinwhichthereismore
generallyacknowledgedvalueandstatusaccordedEnglish,evidencedbythewidespreaddesireof
individualstoacquirethelanguagethathasresultedinflourishingprivateEnglishmediuminstruction
schoolsandEnglishlanguagecollegesincountriessuchasSriLanka(Wettewa2016,Liyanage2019)
andIndonesia(Manara2014,Walker,Liyanageetal.2019).WhatsetsKiribatiapartisthewidespread
disdainforEnglish.WhilemanyofthelocalprofessionalclassacknowledgetheutilityofEnglish
proficiency,theyfeelpowerlessinthefaceoftherealitythatformostIKiribati‘thestatusofEnglish
isnotashighasKiribatiWehavebeenbroughtupinaculturewhere,ifyouuseEnglish,peoplewill
laughatyou’(Atang:150152).TheattitudeofIKiribatialsodiffers,weargue,fromthatinsome
settingswheresuccessfullearninganduseofa(dominant)additionallanguageisseenasshameful
behaviourbythosewhoregardthisasathreattothestrengthand/ormaintenanceofalocal/heritage
language(Gao,2012).Resistancetopossibilitiesofsuchattritioncanberealizedasshamingpractices,
suchasdenunciationaslanguagetraitorsorlanguagekillers(Constantinidou,1994;Romaine,1999,
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inPavlenko,2005).InKiribati,despitegovernmentpolicy,theurgingsoftheadministrativeand
professionalclass,attitudesareshapedbyimmediateandeverydayneedsforinteraction:
…theplaceofEnglishinourcultureisnotasimportantasourownlanguage.IfyouspeakEnglish,
youcannotsurviveoutside.WhatImeanbythisisthat,Kiribati[language]isveryimportant
whenyoucommunicateinKiribati,everyoneunderstandsyouandthencooperateswithyou,can
giveyoueverything,whereas,ifyouspeakinEnglish,noonewillunderstandyou.(Atang:3038)
TheutilityofKiribatiisalsounderstandablebecause,unlikelinguisticallydiverseformer
colonialstatesthatensuedfromimperialistoccupations,rivalries,conquestsandtheoftenrandom
drawingofboundariesonmaps,Kiribatiwasandisessentiallyamonolingualcommunity.Englishwas
notutilizedasanecessarymeansofcommunicationbetweendisparategroups,asanytypeoflingua
franca,andoncethedemandsofcolonialadministrationwereremoved,asAtangobserves,‘without
EnglishwecanstillsurvivehereinKiribati,wehaveonlyonelanguageandeveryoneunderstandsit
wedon’tneedanotherlanguage’(Atang:5157).Asanoutsider,Jillhasobservedthat,amongthe
localssheworkswith,‘intheoffice,seniorpublicservants,ifthey’respeakingtoeachother,theydon’t
speakinEnglish.ThereisnosortofchatterovercoffeeoranythinglikethatinEnglish.It’salwaysinI
Kiribati.Always…’(Jill:506508).WhenattemptingtoencouragestafftouseEnglishwitheachother
asthedefaultmediumatthelocalcampus,Wangaexplainsthat‘fromthefacialexpressionsaloneI
knowtheyarecommunicatingtoyou,notverbally,thatwhyareyoudoingthis?Youarethesame
asus’(Wanga:111114).Itisclearthatpowerfulsocialconventionswithstructuralhistoricalorigins
mitigatetheuseofEnglishevenamongthemostproficientoflocalusers,andthisenvironment
pervadestheEnglishlanguageclassroom.Unwillingnesstousethetargetlanguagedoesnotstem
frompossiblyremediableindividuallearnercharacteristics,orfearofnotmeetingtheirownorothers’
standards,butlocallanguageideologiesthatdisparageEnglishandconstrainthosewithadesireto
learnthelanguage.
TocomplicatethispictureofthelinguisticenvironmentinKiribati,itisevidentfromthedata
presentedsofarthatthereareEnglishproficientlocals,andthereareoutsidersandsomelocalswho
advocatethelearninganduseofEnglish,notnecessarilyfordaytodayroutineinteractionsbythe
populationatlarge,butforitsutilityacrossdiversedomains.Equally,despitetheunderstandable
protestationsoflocalsthattheydonotneedEnglishfortheirdaytodayinteractionsinKiribati,our
datasuggesttheyrecogniseitsutilityoutsidethatsetting.Historically,thelinguistichomogeneityof
KiribatihasmeantEnglishhasnotbeen,asinothersettings,avehicleforonelocallinguisticgroupto
achieveascendancyoverothers.Itwas,andremains,thelanguageofmorepowerfuloutsiders.While
thatbringstherisksofideologicaltensionsanddivisionsbetweenlocalsandoutsiders,italsorisksthe
unavoidableargumentswithinalinguisticcommunityabouthowtorespondtoandmanagenewand
evolvinglinguisticcircumstances,anditistotheseissuesthatwenowturn.
IV. OVERTURNINGDOMINANTLANGUAGEIDEOLOGIES
ThebackgroundofthecomplexrelationshipsinKiribatibetweenEnglishand(the)locallanguage,and
betweentheirusesandusers,differslittlefromthatofmanyotherdecolonizedstates‐languagewas,
asitcontinuestobe,aninstrumentofpower,socialpositionandknowledge(Gal1998).Thehistorical
circumstancesthathaveshapedpresentdayKiribatiofferinsightintohowcontemporarylocal
languageideologiesreflecttheinteractionoflocalsocialconventionsandthesecircumstances,now
furthercomplicatedby,andcomplicating,responsestotheideologicalframingofthedesirabilityof
Englishbyoutsidersandlocals.Practicesaroundlanguageusethatmightbeconsideredmore
essentiallyasculturalinoriginarearguablyindicativeofmorecomplexresponsestocurrent
circumstances,shapedbyhistoricalstructuralandgeopoliticalrelations,thatwesuggestaredomain
specificattemptstomanageideologicaltensionsbetweencompetingcommunityvalues.Forlocals
whohaveboththedesiretolearnanduseEnglishbutatthesametimeaffirmtheirsolidaritywiththe
communityandsustainrespect,avoidanceofridiculeandshamingtakesprecedence.AsWanga
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explains,opportunitiestouseEnglishandimprovecommunicativeproficiencyarecorrespondingly
compromised:
whenyoutrytobedifferentfromtherestit’sapitythatit’saffectingthewaytheyspeakEnglish
andtheirconfidenceinspeakinginEnglishbutatthesametimeIthinktheyareina(dilemma)
becauseononehandtheyrealisetheimportanceofacquiringEnglishandcommunicatingEnglish
butontheothertheytryandtheyallowculturetosortoftocontrolthethingsandtoaffectthe
waytheyreallycommunicateinEnglish.(Wanga:163168)
Outsiders,ontheotherhand,taskedwithsupportingdevelopmentand,asanintegral
elementofthis,withimprovingtheteachingofEnglisharecognizantoftheimpactofpracticesthat
ridiculeEnglishusebylocals,butinterpretthesituationthroughtheirownexperiencesandideological
understandings.JohnoffersanotherinterpretationofobstaclestoEnglishlearninganduseas
attributabletofactorsthatarguablyreflectthesensemakingofhisoutsiderperspective,inthiscase
apolicyfailureofgovernment:
theBritishleftandthenwhat’stheimpetus,what’sdrivingtheteachersinouterislandshereto
continuetospeakEnglishtotheirkidsIthinkandeveninSouthTarawa,thereisperhapsalackof
drive.There’salso........Ithinkthisplace,likemanyPacificcountries,thereisnotasignificantrigour
toenforcementofpolicy.(John:8689).
Elaineislesssympathetictotheideaofequalityandthevalueaccordedtothelocal
‘egalitarianmyth’(Elaine:239)leadingtotheridiculeofEnglishuse,butsheappliesheroutsider
(neoliberal)meritocraticthinkingtosuggestindividuals‘deserve’theirsituationbecauseofchoices
theymake(Bernstein,Hellmichetal.2015),andconceptsofwhatconstitutesegalitarianismtojudge
localbehaviours,andarguesitisanexcuseforinaction.
It’snot(as)peoplesaygeneralisationaveryegalitariansocietyalotofthemareactually
(that’s)rubbish,youknow,they’renotegalitarianatall…,tome,that’snotwhategalitarianisall
aboutyou’vegottoshakesomeof...shakesomeoftheseculturalthingsand...I’mnotsaying
thatweshatterthem.Theyhavetoaddressthesethemselves,youknow.It’seasytosaywearea
veryegalitariansocietyasanexcusefornotactuallymovingahead.(Elaine:218224)
AnyEnglishusebylocalscontinuestobemainlyrestrictedtotheadministrativecentrebased
onTarawa,whilethebulkofthelocalpopulationuseKiribati,especiallyintheotherislands.
Historically,suchwasthesignificanceofbeingadmittedtotheranksofEnglishusersthatthegoalof
anEnglishmediumeducationwastransformation.TheEnglishusedbyalocal‘educatedperson’who
wasselectedtojointheranksoftheelitewasexpectedtoconformtowhatwethinkoftodayas
StandardBritishEnglish,includingaccent,andasanEnglishuseran‘educatedperson’wasexpected
toadopt,oratleastemulate,theattitudes,values,behavioursandlifestyleoftheBritishcolonisers.
Amonglocalstoday,thechoiceofEnglishorKiribatiremainsamarkerofsocioeconomicorientation
andideologicalallegiance,amanifestationof“thecolonialtensionbetweendesiringsamenessand
differenceinthecolonised”(Burnett2005:100)capturedintheresponsefromWanga’sstafftohis
advocacyanduseofEnglish;‘Whyareyoudoingthis?Youarethesameasus.Whytrytobedifferent?’
(Wanga:114115).Atindependence,thishistoryofcalculatedrestrictionofaccesstothelanguageof
power,privilege,andprosperitypositionedasmallgroupof(predominantlymale)Anglicizedlocalsas
pivotalinnegotiationsandsubsequentpoliticalarrangements,andtwentyfiveyearsafter
independence,Englishcontinuestosustainaneliteclass(Burnett2005).
Thus,colonizationpracticesthatcommodifiedEnglishinKiribatidisruptedprecolonialsocio
politicaleconomicrelationsoftheIKiribatithemselves,andcontinuetodoso.TheIKiribati,although
therearecomplexoriginsoftheirreluctancetousethelanguagewithoutsiders,donotdemeanor
ridiculeoutsidersfortheiruseofEnglish,butEnglishisoneofthevisiblefeaturesthatmarkssomeone
asanoutsider.RidiculeisreservedforlocalswhouseEnglish,andarejudgedtobetryingtobehave
likeanoutsider.UseofEnglish,proficientornot,doesnotelicitadmirationaccordedsuchan
9
achievementinmanyotherpostcolonialsettings,butamusementatthepretensionitisinterpreted
asdemonstrating,andtheideaoftransformationofanIKiribatiintoanoutsider;‘they’relaughingat
thepersonwhoispretendingtobeyouknow,likeme,whentheyarenot.Whentheyarenotlike
meatall.They’reKiribati’(John:146148).Underneaththelaughter,thescornimpliesatransgression
ofasocialboundarywiththethreatofconsequentexclusion:
whensomeonespeaksinanotherlanguage,thenthepeoplearoundhimwillmockhimsayingthat
heisfromthatisland,heisfromthatcountry,youshouldgothereandlivethereandwhyshould
hecomehereandlivewithuswhenheisnotspeakinginourlanguage.(Atang:2729)
WhateverpostcolonialresentmenttowardsEuropeansthatmaypersistisarguablyanother
issue;theyhavetheirlanguageandthatisperfectlyunderstandableandacceptabletoIKiribati.Itis
Englishfromthemouthofonetheirown,especiallydirectedtooneoftheirown,thatevokesthe
tauntofokakanimatang:
okakanimatang‐liketobea‐Europeanand,youknow,theexpats,theyspeakin‐thewhitepeople.
Imatangmeanswhitepeople,youknowsowhenyoutrytospeakinEnglish,theywillsayyou,
okakanimatang.(Zameeta:176178)
Thehistoricalinstalmentofselectedlocalsasintermediariesincolonialadministrationcreated
aneliteclassinanostensiblyclasslesscommunity.ItisonethingtoknowtheEnglishlanguage,andto
useitifandwhennecessarywithoutsiders,buttochoosetouseitwithanotherIKiribatiistotryto
besomethingeveryoneknowsyouarenot,awhiteperson,andthisdiminishesstatus.Achievements
thatelsewherecansetindividualsapart,suchasstudyinghardtodevelopproficiencyinanadditional
language,andthataregenerallyvaluedandassociatedwithenhancedsocialstatusinAnglophone
communities,areviewedverydifferentlybyIKiribati,asevenoutsiderssuchasJillrecognise.
Soevengainingofqualificationsisnotastatusthingthatwouldmakeyoubetterthananybody
else.Andinfactit’snotreallyadonethingtotalkaboutwhatyourqualificationsmightbe.Your
qualificationsgetyouajobandit’sunderstoodthatyouwillhavetheminordertogetthejobthat
you’vegotbutitdoesn’tmakeyouabetterpersonthananybodyelse.(Jill:285290)
V. RECONSTITUTINGTHESTATUSOFENGLISH
Ourlocalparticipants,alleducators,areaccomplishedusersofEnglish,andwouldberegardedin
AustraliaorNewZealandaseducatedprofessionalsinrelativelyprestigiousoccupations.Theyextoll
theadvantagesoflearningEnglishintheirpositionsaseducationalleaders.Theyknow,however,that
theirpositions,qualifications,andlanguageproficiencycountfornothing,andinfactdiminishtheir
statusintheeyesofothersifitintrudesintotheirlivesoutsidetheworkplace.Theexperiencesoflocal
professionalslikeWangaandZameeta,andtheveryfactthattheywereinterviewedusingEnglish,is
evidencethatthereis,ofcourse,anotherdimensiontotheresistanceofIKiribatitodominant
languageideology.SomeIKiribatihaveexcellentEnglishproficiencyandinteractiondoestakeplace
withoutsiders,bothwithinKiribatiandinsettingsoutsidetheconfinesofthenationalboundaries,
andtheuseofEnglishasalinguafrancaisindispensableinmanyoftheseinstances.Localsconduct
business,bothlocallyintheofficialadministrativedomainofgovernment,ineducation,andinprivate
transactions,andmanyIKiribatitravelandliveinplacessuchasFiji,Australia,andNewZealandfor
workoracademicstudy.Outsiderswhoworkwithlocalscanseethatoutsidetheworkplace‘people
arereluctanttospeakinEnglishtoeachother[but]canoperateinmeetings,speaktoeachotherin
Englishandthingslikethat’(John:1820).
Ourparticipantspointedtootherindicationsthattherearelocalswhocanperhaps
communicatesuccessfully,atleastsurvive,inEnglishdominantcontexts,althoughtheiravoidanceof
theuseofEnglishintheirhomesettingsuggeststheylackanydegreeofproficiency.MovementsofI
10
Kiribatioutsidethecountryforworkorstudyareanacceptedpartofcontemporarylife,andthe
destinationsmeanindividualsrelyuponhavingatleastasurvivalcapacitytouseEnglishasalingua
franca.ManylocalsaretosomeextentdependentonthismovementintheEnglishdominantworld
atamorefundamentallevel;temporaryandpermanentmigrationforemployment,notablyto
EnglishdominantAustraliaandNewZealand,hasestablishedaflowofmoneyandgoodsbackto
Kiribati,althoughthispracticeisanotherinstanceofthepriorityaccorded“thebettermentofa
collectivegroup.Thewelfareoftheextendedfamilytakesprecedenceandreinforceskinshipties
throughphysicalseparationandeconomicdependency”(Roman2014:14)ratherthanindividuals
focussingonaccruingwealthandpossessionsthroughtheirendeavours.Nonetheless,thereisa
necessarypreparednesstouseEnglishinthesecircumstancesthatisuncontestedasanattempttobe
higherthaneveryoneelseortobehavelikeanimatang.AtanghaslivedinNewZealand,andobserved
that
it’squiteastonishedmebecauseIknowthatsomeofthepeoplethere,Imean,thosepeople
thatIlivedwiththem,whentheywereheretheycannotspeakevenawordinEnglishbutwhile
theyweretheynowliveinNewZealandtheycanexpressthemselvesinEnglish.That’squite
funny,hey?Maybebecausethey’reawayfromtheculturewhichalwaysmockedthemorIdon’t
knowormaybebecauseiftheydon’tspeakinEnglish,theywon’tsurvive.(Atang:292297)
FortheseIKiribatiwhentheyreturnhome,however,‘it’sadifferentballgamealtogether,
becausepeopletrynottospeakEnglishevenifyoucanspeakinEnglish’(Atang:145146).Research
literaturesuggeststhattheproficiencyofatleastsomeofthoseattemptingtooperateinother
settingsexperiencedifficulties;theproficiencyofgraduatesofKiribati’sschooleducation,for
example,hasbeenevaluatedasamongthelowestofstudentsenrolledatTheUniversityoftheSouth
Pacific(Green2012,Sameer2014),whichrequiresstudentstocompleteanEnglishlanguageskills
assessmenttestandtoachievespecifiedskilllevelsinlistening,readingandwritingtoproceedbeyond
thefirstyearofstudy(TheUniversityoftheSouthPacific2019).TheEnglishusedbystudentsfrom
Kiribati,incidentally,ischaracterizedbyvariantfeaturesofusagetypicalofPacificEnglish(Green
2012),ratherthanconformingtoastandarddominantvarietythatwouldnodoubtbethetargetin
ELTinKiribatischoolclassrooms.Elaine(5253)arguesthemostproficientusersof(standard)English,
apartfromolderIKiribatiwhowereschooledentirelyinthelanguagebyoutsidersbefore
independence,areinfactthosewhohaveleftthecountryforatimetoworkorstudyinEnglish
dominantsettingssuchasNewZealandorAustralia.TheseeminglyuniversaldisparagementofEnglish
thatmightinturnexplainthelackofrigourinenactinglanguagepolicies,andtheinevitableoutcome
oflinguisticallyillequippedteachersmakeittoodifficulttodevelophighlevelsofEnglishproficiency
inKiribati.Localshaveaslightlydifferentinterpretation,defendthestandardofteachers’English‐
who“canspeakEnglishverywelltheproblemistheproficiencyofthestudents(Zameeta:5659)‐
andshiftthefocustothereluctanceofstudents,andthustotheshamingpracticesthatdiscourage
learning.
ItisclearthatIKiribaticonsideruseofEnglishinsomedomainsacceptable,evendesirable,
butalsothatuseoutsidethesedomainselicitsridiculeanddisparagementoftheuser,andrejection
ofthelanguageasunnecessary,unimportant,andnotuseful.Theeffortsofindividualstolearnand
useEnglishcanarguablyalignwithcommunityvaluesifthelanguageisnotperceivedtorepresenta
disruptivedominantsuperiority,butastrategicchoicethatdoesnotthreatencohesion.IfEnglishisto
beavailableforIKiribatitolearneffectivelyforuseontheirownterms,Englishlanguageeducators
needtoacknowledgethelegitimacyofshamingpracticesandadaptpedagogythatincorporates
linguisticboundariesasintegraltoknowledgeoflanguagepractices.Asitstands,dominantlanguage
ideologiespermeatelanguageeducationpolicy,andeffortstoteachEnglisharefrustratedbylocal
resistance.Thishasresultedinthesituationdescribedabove,ofaschooleducationsystemthat,
amongmanyproblems,producesgraduateswhothengoontobecometeacherslackinginthe
proficiencyandconfidencetoenactlanguagepolicyinthecontextoflocalresistance.
11
VI. ENGLISHANDENGLISHTEACHINGINKIRIBATI
ThequalityofEnglishteachinginKiribati,andofallformaleducationbothstateandprivate,ispoor
comparedtothatprovidedinmoredevelopednations.Apolicyoffreeanduniversaleducationis
severelyconstrainedbythelackoftrainedteachers,ofresourcesandinfrastructure,andthe
inequitabledistributionamongsttheatolls(UnitedNations2002,Burnett2013,Departmentof
ForeignAffairs&Trade2016).LocalssuchasWanga,Zameeta,andAtangineducationalleadership
positionswithresponsibilityforenactmentoflanguagepolicies,aresituatedatthelinguisticinterface
ofKiribatiwiththeworldatlarge.Theyhavetoargueforwhatiscurrentlyasociallyunacceptable
practice,andstruggletoconvincelocalsofaneedforaccommodationofEnglishandoftheneedfor
opportunitiestolearnthelanguagefreeofshamingandsocialostracismthatattemptstouseit
provoke.Theyarecaughtinanideologicalcrossfirebetweenlocalcommunityconventionsandlocal
governmentpolicyinfluencedbydiscoursesofEnglishasdominantlanguage.ForKiribati,post
colonialindependencehasessentiallybeenarestructuringofdependence,anarrayofpostcolonial
relationshipsinformedbydominantideologiesthatprioritizedevelopmentandtheascendancyofthe
Englishlanguageforparticipationinregionalandglobaleconomicandknowledgeactivities.Typicalof
manystatesdecolonizedbytheBritish,Englishretainsstatusasoneofthetwoofficiallanguagesof
Kiribati,usedinadministrationandeducation,promotedasindispensableforparticipationin
internationalrelationsandeconomicdevelopment.Policymakersfocussedondevelopmentare
influencedbytheirdependenceonexternalsourcesof‘aid’‐theWorldBank,InternationalMonetary
Fund,AsianDevelopmentBank,andregional‘partners’suchasAustraliaandNewZealand,andthe
adviceofforeign‘experts’toimplementstructuraladjustments(Liyanage2009).Asuccessfulfuture
forIKiribati,thedevelopmentpolicynarrativegoes,isthecolonialvisiondressedinnewneoliberal
clothesadoptthewaysandlanguageofoutsiderstobecomemore‘marketable’,pursuetheprivate
benefitthispathpromises,andcollectivegoodwillfollow.
Givenconsiderationsofencouragingpreparationforfuturemobilityinresponsetoclimatic
threats,policymakersareinfluencedbyanideologydominantinmanyformercoloniesthatequates
successandprosperitywithWesternstyleEnglishlanguagemediumeducation(Pennycook2007,
Gray2010).BothEnglishmediumeducationandEnglishlanguageproficiencyarehighdemand
profitablytradeablecommoditiesinglobalmarkets(Tilak,2008)thatofferpossibilitiesformobilityof
theIKiribatipopulation,notsimplyasrefugeesbutasskilledEnglishproficientmigrants(Burnett
2013).Opportunitiesforaccesstothislinguisticcapitalarepromotedbyaidagencies,andlarge
numbersofconsultants,teachers,andcurriculumdevelopersfromEnglishdominantcountriesare
employed,withfundingassistancefromWesternaidanddiplomaticmissions,toimproveEnglish
languageteacherquality(seeLiyanage2009:,forafulldiscussion).GiventhecombinationofKiribati’s
economiccircumstancesanduncertainfuture,localpolicymakers’willingacceptanceofanEnglish
dominantlanguageineducationpolicyisnotdifficulttounderstand.
Theideologicalprioritiesandgeopoliticalagendasofinternationalaidagenciesand
developmentpartnersaremadeexplicitinpoliciestargetinglearningofEnglishasanadditional
language.Forexample,theKiribatiEducationImprovementProgram(KEIP)(DepartmentofForeign
Affairs&Trade2010,DepartmentofForeignAffairs&Trade2016),currentlyinitsthirdphase(2016
2019)andfundedprimarilybytheAustralianGovernmentwithadditionalsupportfromUNESCOand
UNICEF,prioritizesliteracyandnumeracyforstudentsbythecompletionofYear6.Literacydatacited
inPhase1KEIPdocuments(DepartmentofForeignAffairs&Trade2010),andtheGovernmentof
Kiribati’sownannualreport(RepublicofKiribatiMinistryofEducation2016),alwaysrefersfirstto
English,thenKiribati(DepartmentofForeignAffairs&Trade2010).Programobjectivesinclude
workforcedevelopmentthroughestablishmentofaprofessionaldevelopmentframeworkwiththe
explicitfocusofstrengtheningteachers’EnglishlanguageabilitiesviatheLanguageEducationPilot
Project(LEPP).Theaimoftheprojectwas“toimprovethecapacityofIKiribatimaleandfemale
teacherstoteachandassessEnglishasaSecondLanguageandtointroduceanduseEnglishasthe
mediumofinstructionacrossthecurriculum”(DepartmentofForeignAffairs&Trade2010:98).While
12
developmentoftheproficiencyofteacherstaskedwithteachingEnglishasasecond(additional)
languageisunarguablydesirable,theexpectationthatEnglishbeusedasmediumofinstruction,given
thecurrentstateofEnglishlanguageteachingandlearninginKiribati,canberegarded,atbest,asa
longtermaspiration.
PersistencewiththeideologicallydrivenpolicyofEnglishmediumeducationwould,arguably,
simplyreinforcealinguisticdividebetweenasmallEnglishproficienteliteandthebulkofIKiribatiby
excludingthemajorityofstudentsfromeffectivelearning.Outsiderstaskedwithimprovingthequality
ofeducationandEnglishteachingacknowledgethefutilityofthepolicy,andthecircumstancesthat
teachersencounter.
Englishisthemediumofinstruction.Themainmediumofinstruction.Englishissupposedtobe
theformonemediumofinstruction.Andyet70%ofthechildrenandthat’s86%oftheboysand
66%ofgirlsandthat’sagenderthingaswell.Theyaregoingtoformonewithaliteracylevelin
English...wheretheycan’tbasicallywriteasentence.(Elaine:377380)
EnglishmediuminstructionassumesauniversaldesireforEnglishandtheefficacyofimported
pedagogiestoachieveit.Itnotonlyignorestheadvantagesofeducationinthehomelanguage(see,
e.g.,Benson2016,Trudell2016),thepitfallsofwholesaleadoptionofEnglishmediuminstructionas
ashortcuttolanguagelearning,especiallygiventhestructuralandresourceinadequaciesof
educationinKiribati(Clegg2009),itoverlooksthegrowingappreciationofmultilingualapproachesto
schooleducation.Ratherthanattempttoexcludestudents’homelanguagefromtheclassroom,itcan
beharnessedtoadvantageinadditionallanguagelearning,aswellascontentlearninginbilingual
educationsettings,through“thesystematicandjudicioususeoflearners’L1(firstlanguage)by
teachersandofrecognitionoflearners’L1knowledgeasaresourceforlearning”(LiyanageandWalker
2019).ThefrustrationexpressedbyWangareflectstheviewthatlanguagechoiceinlearningisacase
ofeither/or,wheninfactaboth/andapproachthatassignsEnglishastrategicrolemightbemuch
moreproductiveinthecontextoftheprevalenceofshamingpractices.
IlivenextdoortoaJSS,ajuniorsecondaryschool.AndeverytimeIwalkpastthisschool,Icanhear
teachersteachingmathsandteachinghistoryandevenEnglishyouknow,talkingtostudentsin
Kiribati.Itshouldn’tbeyouknowinmathsandotherthingsbutforEnglish,that’stobetaught
inEnglish.(Wanga:185189)
Theseeducationallyorientedargumentsaside,prescribingEnglishasthemediumof
instructionacrossthecurriculumthreatenstodisruptthelinguisticboundariesthatdefinethelocal
community,anddoesnotacknowledgethedeterminationofthelocalstosettheirownlimitsonthe
placeofEnglishintheircommunity.Anappropriateresponsetolocalcircumstanceswouldbeto
concentrateondevelopmentofteachingofEnglishasanadditionallanguage,withoutexpectations
thatitbeusedasmediumofinstruction.Thisshouldcompriseanapproachorientedtotheutilityof
thelanguageinthecontextsdeterminedbythelocals,equippingthemforfurtherdevelopmentof
proficiencydirectedatstudyorworkastheychoose.Pedagogiesthatexplicitlyacknowledgethelocal
attitudestoEnglish,targetspecificdomainsofuse,andaimtopositionthelanguageasastrategic
resourceatthecommandoflocalsmightavoidprovokingtheideologicalconflictmanifestedin
shamingpracticesthatcurrentlypresentanobstacletoteachingandlearningEnglishfromtheoutset,
andassignlowstatustolocalusers.
VII. CONCLUSION
TheapparentlackofpolicysuccessinimprovingtheteachingandlearningofEnglishinKiribatican,
wecontend,beattributedtoafailuretoappreciatetheideologicalcomplexitiesofthelocalcontext.
InternationalpolicymakersandthelocalgoverningeliteexpectallIKiribatitosharetheirviewsof
Englishasdesirablelinguisticcapitalessentialtonavigationofeconomicandenvironmental
challenges.Applicationofthe“theglobaleducationagendaoftheinternationaldevelopment
13
communitytoperceivedregionalandnationaleducationproblemsregardlessofcontextual
difference”(CoxonandMunce2008:147)ignoresavitalelementofthepolicysetting.
LanguageideologiesamongIKiribatiarefarfromunified,butformanyofthemstronglocal
culturesandtraditionsmeanthatlearninganduseofnonvernacularlanguageamongpeopleatthe
grassrootslevelisdisparaged,andthisismanifestedinshamingpractices.Inthischapterweanalysed
theperspectivesofforeignexpertsandIKiribationthesepracticesofshaming,discusshowthey
delineateconflictingideologiesofEnglish,andoverturntheideologyofEnglishasprestigiouscapital
throughpracticesthatshameandridiculeattemptstousethelanguage,andaccordlowstatusto
educatedEnglishproficientlocalusers.Thesepracticesofshamingillustratethecomplexitiesof
engagingproductivelywithchangewhilesustainingcommunityboundaries.Andwesuggestthatif
localpracticesaretoaccommodatethelearninganduseofEnglish,whatisneededisamorenuanced
conceptionofaffectivedimensions,suchasmotivation,inEnglishlanguagelearning.Thisconception
needstoaccountforitascontextspecific,situatedinrelationsbetweensocietaldiscoursesand
ideologies,andsociohistorical,structural,andgeopoliticalcircumstances,ratherthansolelytreated
asatraitoftheindividual.Approachingthenotionofdesiretolearnanadditionallanguage(Pavlenko
2005,Benesch2012,MothaandLin2014)asa“acomplexmultifacetedconstructionthatisboth
internalandexternaltolanguagelearners”(PillerandTakahashi2006:59)helpsustounderstandthe
ideologicaltensionsevidentinsocialpracticesobservedaroundthequestionoflearninganduseof
EnglishincontemporaryKiribati.Competinglanguagedesiresindominant/minoritylanguagesettings
canbeideologicalfaultlinesthatdisruptlocalstructures,andcreatesocialandindividualtensionsand
divisionsaroundidentity,values,andwaysoflife.Whensuchcircumstancesareencountered,ELT
providersandpractitionersmustrecognizeandtakestepstoaddresstheideologicalissuesthat
underpindesireandshameinEnglishlanguagelearning.
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