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ERIC Number: EJ952873
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 21
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 62
ISSN: ISSN-1466-4208
Singapore's E(Si)nglish-Knowing Bilingualism
Chua, Siew Kheng Catherine
Current Issues in Language Planning, v12 n2 p125-145 2011
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. (Contains 3 notes, 5 tables and 6 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Singapore