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Globalization of

Language and
Culture in Asia

Advances in Sociolinguistics
Series Editors:
Professor Sally Johnson, Professor of Linguistics, University of Leeds, UK
Dr Tommaso M. Milani, Senior Lecturer, University of the Witwatersrand,
South Africa
Since the emergence of sociolinguistics as a new field of enquiry in the late
1960s, research into the relationship between language and society has advanced
almost beyond recognition. In particular, the past decade has witnessed the considerable influence of theories drawn from outside of sociolinguistics itself.
Thus rather than see language as a mere reflection of society, recent work has
been increasingly inspired by ideas drawn from social, cultural, and political
theory that have emphasised the constitutive role played by language/discourse
in all areas of social life. The Advances in Sociolinguistics series seeks to provide a snapshot of the current diversity of the field of sociolinguistics and the
blurring of the boundaries between sociolinguistics and other domains of study
concerned with the role of language in society.
Discourses of Endangerment: Ideology and Interest in the Defence of
Edited by Alexandre Duchne and Monica Heller
Linguistic Minorities and Modernity, 2nd Edition: A Sociolinguistic
Monica Heller
Language, Culture and Identity: An Ethnolinguistic Perspective
Philip Riley
Language Ideologies and Media Discourse: Texts, Practices, Politics
Edited by Sally Johnson and Tommaso M. Milani
Language in the Media: Representations, Identities, Ideologies
Edited by Sally Johnson and Astrid Ensslin
Language and Power: An Introduction to Institutional Discourse
Andrea Mayr
Language Testing, Migration and Citizenship
Edited by Guus Extra, Massimiliano Spotti and Piet Van Avermaet
Multilingualism: A Critical Perspective
Adrian Blackledge and Angela Creese
Semiotic Landscapes: Language, Image, Space
Edited by Adam Jaworski and Crispin Thurlow
The Languages of Global Hip Hop
Edited by Marina Terkourafi
The Language of Newspapers: Socio-Historical Perspectives
Martin Conboy
The Languages of Urban Africa
Edited by Fiona Mc Laughlin

Globalization of
Language and
Culture in Asia
The Impact of Globalization
Processes on Language

Edited by Viniti Vaish

Continuum International Publishing Group

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Viniti Vaish and contributors 2010
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Notes on Contributors

Introduction: Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

Viniti Vaish


Global Mandarin
Goh Yeng Seng and Lim Seok Lai


Muslim Education and Globalization: The

Re-(de)positioning of Languages and
Curriculum Content in Southeast Asia
Saeda Buang






Language Idealism and Realism in Globalization:

Exploring Homogeneity Beliefs in Japan
Masakazu Iino


Linguistic Capital, Study Mothers and the

Transnational Family in Singapore
Phyllis Ghim-Lian Chew


Globalization and English Teaching in Sri Lanka:

Foreign Resources and Local Responses
Kaushalya Perera and Suresh Canagarajah



Pedagogy, Culture and Globalization in India

Viniti Vaish



Flows of Technology: Mandarin in Cyberspace

Shouhui Zhao



Globalization and South Koreas

EPIK (English Program in Korea)
Mihyon Jeon

10. Globalization and Language-in-Education Policy Shift

in Malaysia: Challenges of Implementation
Saran Kaur Gill, Radha M. K. Nambiar,
Noraini Ibrahim and Tan Kim Hua






Globalization: Medium-of-Instruction Policy, Indigenous

Educational Systems and ELT in Sri Lanka
Indika Liyanage




Notes on Contributors

Saeda Buang, a senior lecturer at the Asian Languages and Cultures

Academic Group, was the guest co-editor of the Asia Pacific Journal
of Education Special Issue: Muslim Education Challenges, Opportunities and Beyond in 2007. She has written articles and chapters for
refereed journals and books, respectively, on the madrasah or madrasahrelated issues.
Suresh Canagarajah is Kirby Professor in Language Learning at
Pennsylvania State University. He teaches courses in World Englishes,
ethnography and academic discourse. He is the author of Resisting
Linguistic Imperialism in English Teaching (OUP, 1999), Geopolitics of
Academic Writing (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002) and Critical
Academic Writing and Multilingual Students (University of Michigan
Press, 2002).
Phyllis Ghim-Lian Chew is Associate Professor at the National Institute
of Education, Nanyang Technological University. She has published
widely in the areas of education and linguistics, comparative religion
and womens studies, her latest book being Emergent Lingua Francas:
The Politics and Place of English as a World Language (New York:
Routledge, 2009). She is also active in civic life and sits on the board of
several NGOs both in Singapore and abroad.
Saran Kaur Gill is Professor of Sociolinguistics in Multi-Ethnic Nations,
at the School of Language Studies and Linguistics, FSSK, Universiti
Kebangsaan Malaysia. She researches and publishes in the area of language policy and planning with a focus on managing ethnic, national
and global identities. She is also Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Industry and
Community Partnerships).
Goh Yeng Seng is currently an Associate Professor and Head of
the Asian Languages and Cultures Academic Group (Chinese) at the
National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University. He
received his B.A. in Chinese language and literature from National
Taiwan University and a Ph.D. in linguistics from the School of Oriental

Notes on Contributors

and African Studies, University of London. His teaching and research

interests have been concerned primarily with phonological theory,
Chinese linguistics, Chinese lexicography, teaching Chinese as a second
language, global Mandarin and varieties of Mandarin, bilingualism and
multilingual societies, contrastive linguistics and translation studies,
Chinese-English language policies and language education, and Chinese
Tan Kim Hua is Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at the School
of Language Studies and Linguistics, FSSK, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Her research interests are in the area of technology-enhanced
language studies, corpus informed studies and e-lexicography.
Noraini Ibrahim is Head, Unit of Foreign Languages and Translation,
School of Language Studies and Linguistics, FSSK, UKM. Her main
areas of interest and research are forensic linguistics, institutional discourse, ESP and CLIL.
Masakazu Iino is Professor of Sociolinguistics at the School of International Liberal Studies, Waseda University, Japan. He received his
Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and his research interests
include language planning and language policy, and intercultural
Mihyon Jeon is an assistant professor at the Department of Languages,
Literatures and Linguistics, York University, Toronto. Her research
interests include diaspora and language issues, global English, and
language education program and policy.
Lim Seok Lai is currently a Lecturer with the Asian Languages and
Cultures Academic Group (Chinese) at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, where she received her Diploma
in Education, B.A. and M.A. in Chinese language and literature. Her
research interests are in the fields of CL2 acquisition, CL2 curriculum
design and the development of online teaching materials for CL2
Indika Liyanage is a senior lecturer in applied linguistics & TESOL
in the Faculty of Education, Griffith University, Australia where he
researches and trains ESL teachers. He also works as an international
consultant on TESOL in the Pacific.


Notes on Contributors

Radha M. K. Nambiar is an Associate Professor with the School of Language Studies and Linguistics, FSSK, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
Her research interests include the area of academic literacies, learning
strategies and language acquisition. She is especially interested in
understanding how learners learn and what can be done to make learning more efficient and effective.
Kaushalya Perera is a Lecturer at the English Language Teaching Unit,
University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka. She has a B.A. in English Literature
and Language, and an M.A. in Linguistics. Her research interests are in
language planning and policy and reading in a second language.
Viniti Vaish is Assistant Professor at Singapores National Institute of
Education, Nanyang Technological University where she is affiliated
with the Centre for Pedagogy and Practice and the English Language
and Literature Department. She has published in World Englishes, Linguistics and Education, Language Policy and numerous other journals.
Shouhui Zhao is professional language teacher. He has taught Chinese
language and culture at seven universities and in five countries for the
past 22 years. His recent work was published by Springer (2008) and
Cengage Learning (2010) and his papers appear in Current Issues in
Language Planning, Language Policy, Asia-Pacific Education Researcher
and Pedagogies: An International Journal and many other journals.


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Introduction: Globalization
of Language and Culture
in Asia
Viniti Vaish

It is serendipitous that a book about globalization is being edited by

someone working in Singapore which is, quite simply, the most globalized country in the world. This book began with my hunch that
despite the homogenizing effects of globalization, Asia shows some
unique aspects of language and culture which have not been given adequate air time in applied linguistics journals. When I received chapters from my contributors, who are all bilingual insiders conducting
research in Asian countries, I realized that, indeed, there was some
basis for my hunch.
The fact that books on globalization (see Rubdy, 2008) invariably
organize themselves around countries signals that the most important
aspect of the juggernaut of globalization is its local avatars. This book
presents chapters from India, China, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore,
Japan and Korea. In keeping with the animal metaphors favoured by
economists, these countries include lumbering elephants like India and
China, and the fast paced tigers of South East Asia. In addition there
are chapters on Mandarin and Arabic, which are languages of immense
cultural and spiritual capital, and, in the case of Arabic, not country
specific. Other Asian countries, like Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia
are not represented, which is a shortcoming of this book.
Is globalization, then, the process of homogenization, regionalization or syncretism? How can globalization be measured in the social
sciences, especially in Applied Linguistics? Most importantly what
are the unique aspects of globalization in Asia? Are you, as a reader,
for or against globalization? And finally, what is the contribution of
Applied Linguistics to a topic which is dominated by the disciplines
of economics, sociology and anthropology? In this extended essay
I explore answers or, as the case may be, non-answers, to these questions while at the same time introducing the ensuing chapters and
indicating how the chapters contribute to our understanding of this

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

Defining the nature of globalization

The economist Bhagwati (2004) takes a position in his book In Defense
of Globalization, a position that is shared by Nobel laureate in economics, Amartya Sen (2004). I will discuss this stance in the section titled
are you for or against globalization. Suffice it here to state Bhagwatis
definition: Economic globalization constitutes integration of national
economies into the international economy through trade, direct foreign investment (by corporations and multinationals), short term capital flows, international flows of workers and humanity generally, and
flows of technology . . . (2004, p. 3). Bhagwati uses the word flows in
his definition which is also used by the cultural anthropologist Arjun
Appadurai (1996) in his definition of the term globalization. The significance of flows lies in its directionality: globalization is not a linear
process from West to East; the flow can be any direction.
Cultural anthropologist Pieterse (2004) defines globalization as an
objective empirical process of increasing economic and political connectivity, a subjective process unfolding in the consciousness as the
collective awareness of growing global interconnectedness, and a host
of specific globalizing projects that seek to shape global conditions
(p. 17). An interesting aspect of this definition is that globalization is
defined as both an empirical and a non-empirical process. Economic
connectivity can be measured on the basis of the amount of remittances
that migrant workers send back to the home country, and the amount of
money that is traded in a 24-hour period on stock exchanges. However,
awareness of . . . global interconnectedness is hard to measure and
I will come back to this issue in the section on the methodologies for
researching globalization.
In his book on the cultural aspects of globalization, Pieterse (2004),
somewhat simplistically, clusters the vast literature on this sub topic
into three distinct paradigms. The first is the paradigm of cultural differentialism, which separates the world into civilizational units in conflict with each other, and for which Samuel Huntington (1996) has been
severely critiqued. In Pieterses (2004) critique Huntingtons theory is
a crude rendition of civilizational difference which spreads fear in
the West by highlighting the threat of two main forces: Islam and the
yellow peril of the Chinese. The second paradigm is based on the sociologist Ritzers (2008) theory of McDonaldization which refers to the
homogenization of the world in terms of fashion, eating habits, housing
styles, lifestyles, etc. This is problematic not only because it is Americacentric instead of polycentric, but, more importantly, because it denies
agency to those being globalized. The third paradigm, which Pieterse
(2004) promotes, is that of hybridity or global melange, which, in a


moment of extreme simplicity, he defines as the synthesis that acts as

the solvent between these polar perspectives (p. 57).
Appadurais (1996) definition is that globalization is the flow of
ideas, images, people, technology and money which can be both centrifugal and centripetal and, most importantly, highly unpredictable.
For instance the idea of nationalism and the concept of India as an
independent nation state were imbibed by freedom fighters in India
like Rabindranath Tagore and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi because
of their experience of studying in and through English. This is an illustration of ideas and images flowing from the West to South Asia. When
Gandhi formulated his ideas of organized non-violence, symbolized in
the powerful image of a half-naked wiry man striding forward with a
staff, and this was embraced by Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther
King Jr, it was a flow of ideas and images flowing back to the West from
South Asia. Today the anti-globalization movement has taken the idea
of organized non-violence from M. K. Gandhi (Sklair, 2006) which is
another illustration of the flow of ideas from South Asia to the West
and beyond.
In Applied Linguistics Ritzers idea of Mcdonaldization manifests
itself as linguistic imperialism and the spread of global English. This is
linked with its own anti-globalization movement of linguistic human
rights in which English and the processes of cultural globalization are
seen as eroding indigenous languages and cultures. These positions are
well documented, as are their critiques, thus I do not plan to discuss
them here except to make the link between Applied Linguistics and
globalization literature. (For a succinct statement on these positions
and their critiques see Pennycook, 2006).
The central concerns of applied linguists vis a vis globalization are
the increasing use of English as medium of instruction in national school
systems and the spread of global English with the concomitant loss of
indigenous languages and cultures (though it has never been conclusively proven that the rise of English and the loss of mother tongues are
in a cause and effect relationship). In this book the chapters by Viniti
Vaish and Saran Kaur Gill et al. explore English as one media in dual
medium education in India and Malaysia respectively. Whereas Saran
Kaur Gill et al. emphasize the challenges facing Malaysias national
school system due to this language in education policy, Viniti Vaish
emphasizes that globalization is increasing access to the linguistic capital of English for the urban disadvantaged in India. Mihyon Jeons chapter on the English Program in Korea situates Korea in a postcolonial
theoretical framework. The author thinks that Korea is hegemonized
under American neo-liberal policies and that Korea is an illustration
of the spread of global English in East Asia. Though Viniti Vaish finds

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

postcolonial theory impoverished and outdated for discussing English

Language Teaching (ELT) in India, Mihyon Jeon finds it a good fit for
ELT in Korea.

The measurement of globalization

Economists and political scientists have well placed quantified measures of this phenomenon. For instance the annual A. T. Kearney/
FOREIGN POLICY Globalization Index ranks 62 countries. The rankings
are based on four dimensions: economic integration, personal contact,
technological connectivity and political engagement. The methodology and data sources for these rankings are available online (www.
ForeignPolicy.com; www.ATKearney.com). What is interesting is that
Singapore, the tiny tiger of Asia, has consistently come out number 1 in
this prestigious index in both 2006 and 2005. The other Asian countries in the top 30 are Malaysia, which ranked 19 in 2006, Japan which
ranked 28 and South Korea which ranked 29. Philippines lost the
30th position to Romania and was ranked 31. Pakistan, Bangladesh,
Indonesia and India are at the bottom of this list of 62, though, in the
inexorable march to globalization, they have done better than countries
which did not make it to the list at all.
Census results, or sociolinguistic surveys, which have been used in
the past to measure language loss and shift, are still a good measure
of globalization. They can provide figures for the spread of English
and the loss of mother tongues, though, as I pointed out earlier, these
phenomena cannot be presumed to be in a cause and effect relationship. Census results can also provide valuable information on how
family structure is changing due to high levels of mobility amongst
people, which, according to Giddens (2002) is an important indicator
of globalization. These quantitative measures have always been available to researchers; however, such measures tend to document change
only after it has become substantial so that large-scale surveys can
pick it up with significant effect sizes. On the other hand, small scale
in-depth studies, like the one presented by Phyllis Chew in this book,
about study-mothers in Singapore, are a powerful method of exploring
changes due to globalization that are discernable in family structure.
There remain enormous knowledge gaps in the methodology for
measuring globalization especially in Applied Linguistics. Quantitatively we still do not have a reliable gauge for the languages in which
users access the World Wide Web. This measurement is imperative
because the new frontier for the spread of languages is not the national
boundary but cyberspace. In a chapter aptly titled Flows of technology
Shouhui Zhang explores technological challenges in using Mandarin


on the computer. Due to socio-political differences between hanzi using

countries, like China, Japan, Taiwan, etc., there is, as yet, no standardized form for Chinese characters on the computer. Though there is
great attention paid to English in globalization studies, other languages
which are proliferating rapidly, like Mandarin and Arabic, have been
ignored, a gap that this book tries to bridge.
There is a need for ethnographies, cases, area-studies and observations
of globalization with a focus on how languages and cultures are affected
in communities by the inflow and outflow of people, images, ideas, technology and money. Blommaert (2003) calls for more ethnographic studies
which are sensitive to the scale and speed with which linguistic variation and language shift takes place. Thus there needs to be a paradigm
shift in looking at the ethnography not as the study of small things but
as illustrations of global trends in language. However, most measures or
indicators of globalization privilege a quantitative approach. For instance
the sociologist Guillen (2001) measures globalization from 1980 till 1998
on the basis of 4 indicators: economic, financial, social & political, and
bibliographical. For each of these indicators the author offers a quantitative figure. Quantitative figures, for instance those which measure the
growing numbers of tourists and migrants, are woefully inadequate for
measuring the cultural and linguistic aspects of globalization.

Globalization in Asia
We now turn to the heart of the matter: what exactly are the unique
aspects of globalization in Asia that sets this part of globe apart from the
rest of our world? The first, I think, is the resilient and strong nationstate model. Secondly there are challengers to global English like
Mandarin, Hindi and Arabic not only in the number of speakers but also
in the cultural and spiritual capital that is associated with these languages. Thirdly, aspects of Asian culture like Bollywood and Japanese
anime are spreading across the globe with consequences in the way
that Asians perform identity. And finally the Western economic model
of unbridled, unregulated capitalism is under serious attack due to the
global financial crisis of 2008 which is making the Asian Financial
Crisis of 1998 look like a ripple compared to a tsunami.
The processes of globalization are supposed to weaken the state
and Appadurai is convinced that the nation-state, as a complex modern political form, is on its last legs (1996, p. 19). Even in his later
work, Appadurai (2001) insists that I am among those analysts who
are inclined to see globalization as a definite marker of a new crisis for
the sovereignty of nation-states (p. 4). However, countries like Singapore and Malaysia, both of which get a high rank in the A. T. Kearney

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

Globalization index, are reputed to have a strong state with tight regulations in most sectors including the economy and mass media. These
highly globalized Asian countries have put paid to Appadurais view.
Singapore and Malaysia are environments of dirigisme where governments exercise considerable control on the economy, mass media, education and language planning. According to Gopinathan (2008) the East
Asian developmental state is still the model that Singapore follows, as
do the countries of Taiwan, South Korea and Hongkong, in which the
state governs the market instead of being governed by it. Singapore has
also aligned itself to the view that the neo-Confucian ideology is a sensible alternative framework for socio-economic and political organization
(Gopinathan, 2007, p. 59), which is an ideology in which discipline and
hierarchy play a key role in peoples behaviour towards the state.
Goh Yeng Seng and Lim Seok Lai in this book raise awareness about
the increasing numbers of Mandarin learners in the United States of
America. Though the number of Mandarin speakers in the world outnumber native English speakers (as do the number of Hindi speakers ) they
point out that Mandarin may not be considered global because the bulk
of Mandarin speakers live in and not out of China. However, the impact
of the large number of Mandarin speakers can be seen on language use
on the internet, which has led Dor (2004) to speculate that in future English will be surpassed by other languages on the internet. I surmise that
as languages like Arabic, Mandarin and Hindi become more computerfriendly, there will be an increasing number of users who google, game
and blog in these languages rather than English. Saeda Buang in her
chapter in this book explores the religious importance of Arabic in South
East Asia, a topic rarely seen in Applied Linguistics journals. Through
primary and secondary research she documents that though English and
Malay have changed their roles, Arabic has held its status as the language
of immense spiritual capital for Muslim people. In addition its domains
are expanding as it becomes the language in which business is done with
the Middle East. A similar claim for the entrenchment and preservation
of Arabic is documented ethnographically by Rosowsky (2006). In this
study of a South Asian Muslim community in the UK, the spoken language at home is Mirpuri Punjabi, with English and Urdu as languages
of literacy. Arabic is the language of liturgical literacy being acquired in
mosques by adults and children. In this community language attitudes
favour the learning of Arabic over that of learning Mirpuri Punjabi or
Urdu thus affirming the importance of Arabic and religion.
That English is a world language because of its econocultural properties and the agentive acceptance of the colonies (Brutt-Griffler, 2002) is
yet another triumphalist view. The term econocultural for English is
problematic: I do not see that that world economy is linked via English.


What about the Chinese, German and Japanese economies? Are these
linked via English? And I do not believe that there is such a thing as
world culture. The gaze in applied linguistics and related fields needs
to shift from English to new ideas like the increasing numbers of
Mandarin learners, how Arabic unites Islamic peoples as a global language and the entrenched nature of Hindi in India despite the fact that
English is its co-official partner.
Though the spread of English is written about ad nauseum, the
entrenched nature of Hindi and its resistance to the spread of global
English despite a rapidly globalizing India has gone unnoticed. A
look at the figures for Hindi in the census of India from 1971 till 2001
shows that the number of Hindi speakers is rising at an average of about
25 per cent every decade. There are currently about 422 million Hindi
speakers and if the trend continues this number will surpass the half a
billion mark by 2011. The decadal increase in Hindi speakers existed
before India started globalizing in 1991 and is continuing, thus showing that globalization has not affected India with the penetration of
English as it has in certain other parts of the world. One of the reasons
for this is that globalization is about multinationals penetrating large
local markets through local languages, a strategy that supports additive
bilingualism (Vaish, forthcoming). Quite simply, if the COKE Company
advertises in English in India it will reach 2 per cent of one billion people; if it advertises in Hindi, nearly half a billion.
A similar sociolinguistic situation exists in Japan. Masakazu Iino in
his chapter in this book documents two phenomenon happening simultaneously. The first is the spread of English in elementary schools as
a compulsory subject even though English is not really used by the
Japanese for communicative purposes. The other is the teaching of
Japanese to inbound immigrants and their children who are increasing
in number and are being encouraged to become the residents of Japan,
an immigration policy which is resulting in a disturbing rise in national
pride. Thus the examples of India and Japan show the entrenchment of
languages despite, or because of, globalization.
Cultural globalization has numerous nodes in Asia like Bollywood
movies made in Mumbai, the Japanese anime cartoons and Kung
Fu movies made in Hong Kong which are subtitled in as many as
17 languages and distributed to specific diasporas. These cultural
spaces, which are dominated by languages like Hindi, Japanese and
Mandarin, ignore and challenge the spread of English. Vaish (2007) has
shown how Chinese and Indian children in Singapore are networked
into the pan-Chinese and pan-Indian culture through their engagement with Canto-pop music and Tamil movies respectively. She thus
empirically challenges the idea that Asian youth are passive victims

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

of cultural globalization, or what Brutt-Griffler (2002) calls world culture that emanates from the West.
Finally, we come to the global financial crisis of 2008 which has
upstaged the Asian financial crisis of 19971998. It is not my area of
expertise or the purpose of this introduction to give an economic interpretation of these crises. More importantly, having lived in Singapore
through both these crises, I want to point to some cultural impressions
of the same. In 19971998 the International Herald Tribune and the
Economist magazine carried numerous articles which berated the crony
capitalism of East Asian countries and held it responsible for the near
collapse of countries like Indonesia. There was a sense that the Western
capitalist model had been imperfectly supplanted in East Asia, thus
resulting in the crisis. The global financial crisis of 2008 has, ironically,
made Asian economies look better, though they are by no means totally
unaffected by the crisis. However, the protectionist policies of governments in developmental states, which earlier were berated as part of
a patriarchal neo-confucianist system, are now considered sensible as
they have prevented banks from collapsing. Once again the gaze is on
Asia, this time on nationalized banks and businesses, which are part
of a patriarchal culture in which the government controls the market.
Now the unbridled market capitalism of the West and the mythical selfcorrecting nature of this market are under attack.

Are you for or against globalization?

If there was a debate in which the motion was: this house believes
that globalization is a benign process which can benefit both rich and
poor countries, would you be for or against? In academia this seems
a trite question to ask as academics are above taking positions. However globalization is one topic that makes many scholars take a stance
and argue from their point of view. Scholars are divided between those
who see globalization as a benign process (Bhagwati, 2004; Sen, 2004;
Friedman, 2005) and those who see globalization as a process that will
harm the environment and deepen the existing divide between the rich
and the poor, the technologized and non-technologized (Shiva, 2004;
Sklair, 2006).
Sen (2004) persuades that globalization is not particularly Western
and it is not a process that makes the poor poorer. He gives numerous
examples from history to show how ideas from the East spread to the
West through trade, travel and migration, like the decimal system which
was developed in India between the second and sixth centuries and
was carried to the West by Arab traders. Bhagwati (2004) substantiates
Sens contention that the poor do not become further disenfranchised


because of the processes of globalization, and attempts to prove that

globalization can benefit all social classes if it is managed. For both
these economists market capitalism must go hand in hand with public
policies in education, land reform, microcredit facilities and appropriate legal protection for labour. Thus the real issue is the equitable distribution of globalizations benefits through appropriate public policy.
Both these economists are well aware of the shortcomings of globalization. Bhagwati writes that A dramatic example of mismanagement of
globalization . . . is the imprudent and hasty freeing of capital flows
that surely helped to precipitate the Asian financial and economic crisis starting in 1997 (p. 35). Thus he asserts that globalization must
be managed so that its fundamentally benign effects are ensured and
reinforced (Bhagwati, 2004, p. 35).
My own work on globalization and English language education in
India draws extensively on the work of Bhagwati and Sen (Vaish, 2008).
I find that a postcolonial doom and gloom view of English in India is
not productive because there is high demand for this product from the
disadvantaged who should be given equitable access to this linguistic
capital. The reason for this demand is the burgeoning of new employment sectors, like call centres, which employ English-knowing bilinguals. The government school system is rising to meet this challenge
and my book, Vaish (2008), is the story of one such school. At the same
time I acknowledge that these changes in India are not across the board
and large parts of rural India are not seeing the effects of globalization. In his research on Bangladesh Bruthiaux (2002) rightly comments
that English language education is of no use for the poorest of the poor
because they do not have access to the global economy. Yet, globalization can bring new employment opportunity to the disadvantaged
and when coupled with appropriate public policy, in this case a dualmedium language in education policy, it can create what Friedman
(2005) calls a level-playing field or a flat world. My concern is not that
English spreads, and neither is it, I think, the concern of most Asians.
My concern is that English has been spreading along class lines.
Opponents of globalization are not convinced. In a polemical essay
on the environment Shiva (2004) argues that Globalization is not the
cross-cultural interaction of diverse societies. It is the imposition of a
particular culture on all others . . . It is the predation of one class, one
race, and often one gender of a single species on all others (p. 422).
Though his tone is more neutral Guillen (2001) agrees that Globalization . . . is also an ideology which is loosely associated with neoliberalism and with technocratic solutions to economic development
(p. 236). Shivas negative view of global institutions like the World Bank
and the International Monetary Fund is echoed by Kushalya Parera and

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

Suresh Canagarajah in their chapter on Sri Lanka in this book. Their

perspective, which is similar to the postcolonial stance taken by Indika
Liyanage in his chapter, is that the educational policies of the World
Bank in Sri Lanka privilege English-speaking countries and disenfranchise indigenous languages and educational practices of Sri Lanka.

Globalization and Applied Linguistics

Applied Linguistics does not have a strong voice on the topic of
globalization which is dominated by economists, sociologists and anthropologists. In measuring globalization through bibliographic indicators
Guillen (2001) records the annual entries in sociological abstracts, economics literature, politics & international relations, historical abstracts,
anthropological literature and books in print. He completely bypasses
abstracts in applied linguistics though he acknowledges that the alleged
rise of a global culture has to do with whether or not a global language
is emerging (p. 254). And to substantiate his claim that there is no
global language as yet, he quotes Mazlish (1993), who is a historian!. Similarly Appadurai (1996) in his interdisciplinary book on globalization
references historians, literary critics and economists but does not even
mention language and does not reference a single applied linguist.
Bruthiaux (2008), in a trenchant review of papers published between
2001 and 2004 in applied linguistics journals regarding globalization,
finds that applied linguists are not interdisciplinary in their research
and rarely reference economists. They tend to have a negative view
of globalizations linguistic and a positive view of its cultural consequences. Though they use the word as a keyword in their papers
they do not grapple with its definitional and ideological nuances. As
Blommaert (2003) rightly points out, when sociolinguistics attempts to
address globalization, it will need new theory (p. 607) and this theory
has yet to emerge. Specifically the new theory will have to re-examine
traditional concepts like that of the homogeneous speech community
because mobility of people has thrown speech communities into disarray. All these reasons contribute to other disciplines not looking at
applied linguistics for direction in research on globalization.
My own concern is that the enormous influence of postcolonial theory makes applied linguists unable to differentiate between colonialism
and globalization though they are always ready to report similarities.
For instance Kumaravadivelu (2006) calls the two twins implying that
they not only look the same but also have the same ominous origins. He
comments that the projects of globalization and empire have always
been intricately interconnected (p. 3). Though certain geographical
locations in the world could definitely provide a case for the continuity


between the processes of colonization and globalization, the differences

are not so well emphasized. For instance the centreperiphery dichotomy prevalent in postcolonial studies is not sustainable in an era of
globalization. Also, the perception of youth about English as a colonial
imposition in the postcolony is very different from that of theorists.
And finally, the doom and gloom postcolonials do not take into account
the view of those economists, journalists and applied linguists who are
more upbeat about globalization.

On 31 January 2009 the title of the BBC show Newsnight was globalization in retreat. The program showed Joseph Stiglitz, the famous
economist, saying that though Americans hate the n word, there will
be a move to nationalize American banks. The anchor went on to comment that this was one of the steps of deglobalization taking place due
to the world financial crisis of 2008. What the effect of deglobalization
will be on language and culture remains to be seen.
Before I close, a few words about the contradictions between the
stances and/or theoretical foci of the contributors and their styles
are in order. The chapters bring diverse perspectives to globalization:
some authors see it as a benign process, others as the ideology of neo-colonialism. There are postcolonial theory buffs here and those who find this
theory dated. Many of the chapters do not conform to the strait-jacket of
sub-headings imposed on us by journals: methodology, data-collection,
discussion, etc. I have not insisted on this as I want to privilege national
scholars who might not, as yet, have started on the treadmill of producing text for journals. Thus the book promises theoretical promiscuity,
contradictory views of globalization, and unpredictable styles.

Appadurai, A. (1996), Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
(2001), Grassroots globalization and the research imagination, in
A. Appadurai (ed.), Globalization. Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 119.
Bhagwati, J. (2004), Defense of Globalization. Oxford: OUP.
Blommaert, J. (2003), Commentary: a sociolinguistics of globalization, Journal
of Sociolinguistics, 7 (4), 607623.
Bruthiaux, P. (2002), Hold your courses: language education, language choice,
and economic development, TESOL Quarterly, 36 (3), 275296.
(2008), Dimensions of globalization and applied linguistics, in P. K. W.
Tan and R. Rubdy (eds), Language as Commodity: Global Structures, Local
Marketplaces. London: Continuum, pp. 1730.


Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

Brutt-Grifer, J. (2002), World English: A Study of Its Development. Clevedon:

Multilingual Matters.
Dor, D. (2004), From Englishization to imposed multilingualism: globalization, the internet, and the political economy of the linguistic code, Public
Culture, 16, 97118.
Friedman, T. (2005), The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Globalized World
in the 21st Century. London: Allen Lane.
Giddens, A. (2002), Runaway World: How Globalisation is Reshaping our Lives.
UK: Prole Books.
Gopinathan, S. (2007), Globalisation, the Singapore developmental state and
education policy: a thesis revisited, Globalisation, Societies and Education,
5 (1), 5370.
Guillen, M. F. (2001), Is globalization civilizing, destructive or feeble?
A critique of ve key debates in the social science literature, Annual Review
of Sociology, 27, 23520.
Huntington, S. P. (1996), The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World
Order. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Kumaravadivelu, B. (2006), Dangerous liaison: globalization, empire and
TESOL, in J. Edge (ed.), (Re) locating TESOL in an Age of Empire. UK:
Palgrave, pp. 127.
Mazlish, B. (1993), An introduction to global history, in B. Mazlish and
R. Buultjens (eds), Conceptualizing Global History, Boulder, CO: Westview,
pp. 124.
Pennycook, A. (2006), Postmodernism in Language Policy, in T. Ricento (ed.), Language Policy: Theory and Method. Malden, MA: Blackwell
Publishing, pp. 6076.
Pieterse, N. (2004), Globalization & Culture: Global Melange. Oxford:
Rowman & Littleeld Publishers, Inc.
Ritzer, G. (2008), The Mcdonaldization of Society 5. Los Angeles, CA: Pine
Forge Press.
Rosowsky, A. (2006), The role of liturgical literacy in UK Muslim
communities, in T. Omoniyi and J. A. Fishman (eds), Explorations in
the Sociology of Language and Religion. Amsterdam: John Benjamins,
pp. 309325.
Rubdy, R. (2008), English in India: the privilege and privileging of social class,
in P. K. W. Tan and R. Rubdy (eds), Language as Commodity: Global Structures, Local Marketplaces. London: Continuum, pp. 122145.
Sen, A. (2004), How to judge globalism, in F. J. Lechner, and J. Boli (eds),
The Globalization Reader. 2nd Edition. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing,
pp. 1622.
Shiva, V. (2004), Ecological balance in an era of globalization, in
F. J. Lechnerand J. Boli (eds), The Globalization Reader. 2nd Edition.
Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 422430.
Sklair, L. (2006), Capitalist globalization and the anti-globalization
movement, in S. Dasgupta and R. Kiely (eds), Globalization and After.
London: Sage, pp. 293319.



Vaish, V. (2007), Globalization of language and culture in Singapore,

International Journal of Multilingualism, 4 (3), 217234.
(2008), Biliteracy and Globalization: English Language Education in India.
Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
(forthcoming), Globalization and multilingualism: text types in the linguistic ecology of Delhi, in Applied Linguistics.


Global Mandarin
Goh Yeng Seng and Lim Seok Lai

Chapter summary
Due to the emergence of China as an economic powerhouse,
Mandarin, as the officially recognized standard language of mainland
China and Taiwan, and the lingua franca of the overseas educated
Chinese diaspora, is widely believed to be the most likely candidate among the worlds languages to attain the status of a language
second only to English. This chapter explores the following issues:
1. defining the global status of a language, 2. the impact of Chinas
resurgence, 3. the global spread of Mandarin, 4. the current status
of Mandarin, 5. defining Mandarin: problems of nomenclature,
6. barriers to the spread of Mandarin, 7. teaching Chinese as an
international language and 8. future prospects: challenges and

Along with the economic rise of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRICs)
in the new millennium, the ecology of world languages is undergoing
a major restructuring, with Mandarin competing alongside Spanish,
HindiUrdu and Arabic for global language status after English, the first
acclaimed world language. As noted by Crystal (2003: 9), A language
does not become a global language because of its intrinsic structural
properties, or because of the size of its vocabulary, or because it has
been a vehicle of a great literature in the past, or because it was once
associated with a great culture or religion. It also has little to do with
the number of native speakers who speak it.
To progress as an international medium of communication, a language needs to have a strong power-base, be it political, military or
economic. Examples are numerous throughout the history of mankind.
Languages such as Greek, Latin, Chinese and Spanish spread to the
Middle East, Europe, Japan, Korea and Vietnam and America during
different periods in history for the same reasons: the political, military
or economic might of their native speakers. English, the first acclaimed
global language, spread around the globe in the nineteenth century as a
result of British colonial imperialism and continued its global presence
when America emerged to become the de facto superpower by the end
of the twentieth century.

Global Mandarin

Since its re-emergence as an economic powerhouse at the turn of

the new millennium, China has been exerting immense influence
politically, economically, as well as linguistically, in the international
arena. Mandarin, being the officially recognized standard language of
the Peoples Republic of China (henceforth China) and the Republic of
China (henceforth Taiwan), and the lingua franca among the educated
Chinese diaspora, is widely believed to be the most likely candidate
amongst the worlds languages to attain the status of a language second
only to English.
This chapter discusses the key issues in relation to the future of
Mandarin as a global language. We begin the discussion with a definition of exactly what makes a language a global language. Thereafter we
discuss Chinas resurgence and its impact on world markets, as well as
the consequent effect on its language and culture. This is followed by a
discussion on the global spread of Mandarin over the past two decades,
its current status, and the problems encountered. The challenges and
opportunities faced by the Teaching of Chinese as a Foreign Language
(henceforth, TCFL) industry, in pursuance to the world-wide proliferation of Chinese as a Foreign Language (henceforth, CFL) learners, are
discussed next. The last section summarizes the future prospects of
global Mandarin.

Defining the global status of a language

To attain a global status, a language needs to fulfil 2 requirements. First
it should receive due official recognition within the international community. According to Crystal (ibid.: 3), a language achieves global status
when it develops a special role that is recognized in every country. This
special status can be achieved either by making it an official language of
the country or by requiring it to be studied as a foreign language.
Second it needs an expanding number of non-native users. As mentioned earlier, a language does not achieve global status through the
sheer number of native speakers. Such a numerical definition of global
status would mean that Latin could never have been an international
language throughout the Roman Empire for the simple fact that the
Romans were less numerous than the peoples that they had conquered.
English would never have been considered a global language if it had
only been spoken in the United Kingdom. Mandarin, based on the sheer
number of native speakers, would have long been considered a global
language, a claim that would have been deemed absurd in the years of
the Chinese Cultural Revolution (from 1966 to 1976).
Rather, the global status of a language is determined by its degree
of penetration into or prevalence within the community of non15

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

native speakers. There is nothing great about a language being widely

used among its own native speakers, no matter how numerous they
may be. It is only when even non-native speakers likewise seek to learn
the language that the language has a legitimate claim to global status.
The number of non-native speakers, which is a point that we will take
up subsequently for the case of Mandarin, is indeed a very important
indicator or barometer of the level of global status of a language. As
noted by Graddol for the case of global English, Native speakers may
feel the language belong to them, but it will be those who speak
English as a second or foreign language who will determine its world
future. (2000: 10).

The impact of Chinas resurgence

In the 1980s, after the prolonged period of the Cultural Revolution
which resulted in extreme social instability and economic stagnation,
the Chinese government in an attempt to revive its economy made
major adjustments to its policies in order to achieve economic reconstruction. In the 20 years that followed, under the effect of sound economic policies in a rapidly globalizing world, China emerged, rather
miraculously, as an economic powerhouse at the turn of the new millennium. In 2007, Chinas GDP exceeded US$3 trillion, ranking it behind
the USA, Japan and Germany, as the worlds 4th largest economy.
A recent report by economist Albert Keidel of the Carnegie Endowment
for International Peace (9 July 2008; 2008a and 2008b) predicted that
Chinas economy backed by strong domestic demand will overtake
that of the USA in 2035 and its GDP will hit an impressive US$82 trillion
in 2050, compared with US$44 trillion for the United States, making it
the worlds number one economy.
The speed and scope of Chinas economic development over the past
two decades have indeed been remarkable and its effects have been felt
International economic expansion has transformed China in many
ways. During the initial stage of its resurgence when international trade
and a global market was taking form, China adopted an open-door
policy, inviting foreign manufacturers to set up mega-scale factories
within its confines. Over a span of 20 years, China has moved dramatically from the paradigm of qianlongwuyong a hidden dragon (closeddoor policy) to that of feilongzaitian a flying dragon (open-door policy)
and has now become an important driving force behind the world
economy. Lured by low operation and labour costs, foreign investments
streamed in and in no time, China emerged as the factory of the world,
benefiting from the influx of foreign funds, technologies and expertise.

Global Mandarin

As its economy grew and its people became wealthier, China, with its
population of 1.3 billion, gradually morphed from the factory of the
world into an enormous world consumer market. Over time, backed by
a booming economy, local manufacturing made tremendous progress
and Chinas position shifted swiftly from a technology-import nation to
a product-export nation, further promoting its economic impact worldwide. In recent years, fuelled by a large-scale expansion of foreign
investments overseas, Chinas economic supremacy has been widely
acknowledged and the resulting massive economic growth has led to a
stronger than ever Renminbi (RMB), the official currency of China. As
observed by Crystal in the case of global English (ibid.: 10), Any language at the centre of such an explosion of international activity would
suddenly have found itself with a global status. The current economic
rise of China has indeed laid a solid foundation for its language and
culture to flourish globally.

The global spread of Mandarin

A paradigmatic world view: the three concentric circles
of Mandarin users
As China and its people venture out internationally, the Chinese
diaspora gradually expands and its language spreads to different parts
of the world. As Chinas economy expands and its currency strengthens, the global status of its language ascends and people around the
world are attracted to the language for its economic benefits.
The complex situation arising from the spread of global Mandarin
can be represented using Kachrus model of three concentric circles
(1985), namely, the Inner Circle, the Outer Circle, and the Expanding
Circle, which takes into consideration the different ways in which a
language has been acquired and is currently used in different countries
and regions (see Figure 2.1):
The Inner Circle of native users
The Inner Circle refers to the traditional Zhongyuan (Central Plains)
base of Mandarin, which includes mainland China and Taiwan, where
it has served not only as a dominant working language of administration (in both the public and private sectors), education, law, mass communication, science, technology, commerce and so on, but also as a
common language of a linguistically heterogeneous country. Based on
figures reflected in the China Population and Employment Statistics
Yearbook 2008 and the data released by the Department of Household

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

Expanding circle

Outer circle

Inner circle
Overseas Chinese
Foreign Language

Figure 2.1 The three concentric circles of Mandarin users

Registration of Taiwan (http://www.ris.gov.tw/version96/statis_111),

the combined population of the Inner Circle adds up to 1.35 billion.
Despite its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, Hong Kong is not
placed within the Inner Circle. Instead, it is placed in the Outer Circle
as its sociolinguistic situation, with a history of British colonization,
is rather complex. To date, English still enjoys a prestigious status and
continues to function as the dominant administrative language of the
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; Cantonese is the de-facto
official dialect and remains the preferred tongue for daily communication for the vast majority of its people; Mandarin, though gradually
rising both in terms of number of users and social status, has yet to play
any significant role in Hong Kong.
The steadily expanding Outer Circle of second language users
The Outer Circle represents overseas Chinese communities around the
world, formed during different periods of time as a result of migration,
where Mandarin has been used as a lingua franca since the early days of
settlement and continues to spread through the medium of education.
According to the latest figures listed in the online New World Encyclopaedia (http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Overseas_
Chinese retrieved on 10 January 2009), the population of the Chinese
diaspora is estimated to be close to 40 million. Martin Jacques, a visiting
research fellow at the Asia Research Center, London School of Economics, commented that one distinct characteristic of the Chinese diaspora
is that it is numerically large and spread all around the globe, from

Global Mandarin

Africa to Europe, East Asia to the Americas. He gave the following

estimation on regions with a significant Chinese population in various
parts of the world:
there are now at least half a million Chinese living in Africa, most
of whom have arrived very recently. There are more than 7 million
Chinese in each of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, more than
1 million each in Myanmar and Russia, 1.3 million in Peru,
3.3 million in the US, 700,000 in Australia and 400,000 in Britain
about 40 million in all, which is almost certainly a considerable
underestimate. (http://chinadaily.cn/opinion/2008-06/18/)

Jacques also pointed out that China is already a global power and is still
developing. And as its rise continues, as Chinese worldwide interests
grow exponentially, the Chinese diaspora is likely to expand greatly.
Due to differences in the historical development of overseas Chinese
communities in the provision of Chinese education and their degree of
closeness with the Inner Circle, Mandarin now plays a very diverse role
in these multilingual settings and the level of mastery of their speakers
varies accordingly.
In overseas Chinese communities in the USA and the European
countries, Thailand, the Philippines, Myanmar and other territories
where Mandarin is not the dominant language of their countries of residence, the use of Mandarin is typically confined to the home domain
or within the Chinese community itself. Chinese language classes are
not included in the main-stream education system and are conducted
mainly on a voluntary basis in Chinese schools set up by non-official
organizations outside curriculum time. Teaching materials are usually
provided by overseas Chinese organizations and the contents are either
inclined towards Taiwan or mainland China.
In states such as Singapore and Malaysia, where Mandarin is a common language within the Chinese community, the teaching of Chinese
language is either fully administered by a government ministry (e.g. the
Singapore Ministry of Education) or by a non-official independent local
federation of the Chinese community (e.g. United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia). Emphasis is placed on the transmission of Chinese culture and traditional values rather than the mastery
of linguistic skills.
Within the Inner Circle, Singapore stands out as the only nation that
places a lot of emphasis on the teaching and learning of Chinese language. In Singapore, Mandarin enjoys the status of an official language
alongside English, Tamil and Malay, and is made a compulsory academic subject for ethnic Chinese students from primary up to secondary
or pre-university level for a span of 10 to 12 years.

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

The proliferation of the Expanding Circle of non-native users

The Expanding Circle involves those regions of non-native users, where
the language is recognized as an increasingly important international
language. It includes Japan, South Korea, North America, European
Countries and an increasing number of other regions where Chinese is
taught in educational institutions as a foreign language.
In the past decade, with a sharp rise in demand for CFL courses, the
TCFL has been flourishing within and outside the borders of China. The
growing popularity of the subject is evident in the number of students
wanting to learn it. In 1997, the number of foreign students enrolled in
CFL courses in mainland China was estimated at 43,000. In 2005, the
figure expanded to 140,000, marking a threefold increase. Recent data
indicated that there are more than 330 colleges offering TCFL programs
in China, receiving about 40,000 foreign students to learn Chinese every
year (www.wei.moe.edu.cn retrieved on 10 January 2009).
The prospects of the TCFL overseas are promising. The economic and
linguistic expansion of China has prompted many governments and nongovernmental organizations around the world to realign their language
perceptions and to recognize Mandarin as a language of opportunity. The
US government implemented a series of policies in favour of the teaching
and learning of the language, including the National Flagship Language
Initiative, which classified Chinese as a critical need language. In 2006,
the College Board officially established the AP Chinese Language and
Culture course, listing Chinese as an important foreign language at high
school level in the USA. An increasing number of schools in all parts of
the world have since included the TCFL in their curriculum.
The number of non-native learners taking Chinese as a foreign language in higher institutions across the globe and undertaking the Hanyu
Shuiping Kaoshi Chinese Language Proficiency Test administered by
Guojia Hanyu Guoji Tuiguang Lingdao Xiaozu Bangongshi The Office
of Chinese Language Council International (OCLCI), Beijing, China, has
multiplied over the past decade, indicating the growing international
status of Mandarin. The Language Situation in China Report: 2005
estimated that by 2005, the number of foreigners learning Chinese as
a foreign language is close to 30 million. Extrapolating from current
trends, OCLCI projected that the number of CFL learners will exceed
100 million by 2010.
The development of global Mandarin in the Outer and Expanding
Circles is further enhanced by Chinas adoption of a new peaceful
development strategy that includes the setting up of the Confucius
Institutes (CI), modelled on the British Council, German Goethe Institute and French Alliance Franaise, via OCLCI in 2004 with the stated

Global Mandarin

mission of making the Chinese language and culture teaching resources

and services available to the world and meeting the demands of overseas Chinese learners to the utmost. (http://hanban.edu.cn retrieved
on 24 June 2009) According to figures provided by OCLCI on the above
official website, by April 2009, a total of 326 CIs have been set up in
81 countries and regions. No official figure has been provided about its
current student population but a rough estimation made earlier by Dou
(2008) suggests that a total of 46,000 students worldwide had enrolled
in courses provided by 125 CIs by the end of 2007 (http://kbs.cnki.net/
forums/45205 retrieved on 10 January 2009). As the number of CIs has
more than doubled over the past year, its student population can also
be expected to be steadily expanding.
The sudden sharp rise in the population of CFL learners worldwide
in conjunction with Chinas economic upturn over the past decade supports Crystals argument that the shift in economic relations has a profound effect on the popularity and use of a language. It is thus clear that
the major force underlying the spread of a language is more often external than internal. Learners of a foreign language are usually motivated
by external factors in the case of Mandarin, economic ones which
provide access to personal betterment or lucrative markets; they are
less likely to learn a language on the basis of internal language-specific
factors such as aesthetic qualities, literary power or cultural heritage,
which in Crystals words, can motivate someone to learn a language,
of course, but none of them alone, or in combination, can ensure a languages world spread. (Crystal, 2003: 9).
The Expanding Circle may be a good measurement of the global status of a language but it is often the Inner Circle that is the cause or
explanation for the rise of that language. The degree of global status of
a language is determined by the degree of power projected by native
speakers of the Inner Circle into the Outer and Extending Circles.
Power is projected in mainly military or economic dimensions. The
recent ascent of global Mandarin is clearly a result of economic forces.
The Outer Circle has now been recognized by many to be an economic
force to be reckoned with. However, the Outer Circle per se does not
have the global clout to uplift the international status of Mandarin. It
is the economic rise of the Inner Circle that is the pivotal factor for the
ascent of global Mandarin.

Advancement in CL-operated information technology

Outside the realm of TCFL, a number of recent significant development
trends in other domains also demonstrate the wide use of Mandarin

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

across the globe. In the field of information technology traditionally

dominated by English Chinese has entered the world of computers
with the rapid development of many Chinese-rich computer tools such
as the Chinese Internet, Chinese search engines (e.g. Chinese Yahoo,
Chinese Google, Yam, SOHU, Baidu) and the Chinese version of all
major American programs, including the Windows operating system
and Microsoft word-processors.
The IT industrys exploration and development of software and
IT-related technologies using Chinese as the language medium has
2 important implications. First, it indicates that the pulling power of
the vast lucrative Chinese market is strong enough to steer the Englishdominated IT industry to channel resources and make linguistic accommodation for their products to cater to the needs of the Chinese users.
From here, we can conclude that Mandarin, the language behind an
emerging Chinese economy, no longer functions simply as a means
of communication. In fact, it is in itself a market, a profit-generating
commodity whose existence is increasingly valued in the world.
Secondly, the break-down of the close linkage that once existed between
computers and English and the current development in internet technology have broken geographical barriers and reinforced the use and
accelerated the dissemination of the Chinese language as well as other
regional languages across the globe.
The effect is twofold. For the fast-expanding overseas Chinese
diasporic communities, advancement in CL Internet technologies makes
it possible for community members to keep in close contact with their
motherland, as well as with one another, through the establishment
of a virtual language zone (Dor, 2004: 111) via the Chinese language,
thereby expanding and reinforcing its use. For the non-native communities, as the internet becomes more accessible and more widely used,
those looking for business opportunities in China or with China can
now gather relevant first-hand information and communicate directly
with their Chinese counterparts via the World Wide Web, a function
that was traditionally monopolized by English. As clearly pointed by
Hancock (1999), proficiency in the language of the business partner
will put one in an advantageous position in the increasingly globalized,
competitive business world:
The World Wide Web has accelerated the trend to globalization,
and globalization requires companies to form partnerships or
more structured alliances with local companies. Cross-border
mergers, acquisitions and collaborative projects are increasingly
common and their success relies partly on good personal relations
and communications between individual participants. Good relations and communications in turn rely partly on the parties being


Global Mandarin

familiar with each others languages. Internal documents or local

regulation and practices will be clearer if the language is understood; ideas and inspirations will be more easily shared. Not even
attempting to speak the local language could alienate other parties. (1999: 35)

There is an emergent literature documenting the spread of the Chinese

language as well as other regional languages on the World Wide Web.
Based on the estimated and projected figures of internet users provided by Global Reach (n. d.), an online marketing firm, Dor (2004: 99)
predicts that the internet is going to be a predominantly non-Englishlanguage medium as virtual communities, particularly that of global
businesses, gradually recognize the needs of an evolving global consumer market and begin to adopt a multilingual strategy to penetrate
local markets in their own languages (ibid.: 102). The latest statistics
released by the Internet World Stats (http://www.internetworldstats.
com retrieved on 24 June 2009) strongly support Dors observation and
clearly signal a speedy expansion in the number of non-English internet users over the past decade. Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian
and Arabic are the five fastest growing internet languages on the Top 10
list which have registered strong growth of between 619 per cent and
1,545 per cent from 2000 to 2008. Chinese, which is ranked second on
the list in terms of number of users, records a total of 321 million users,
as compared to 463 million English users, and registers a remarkable
percentage growth of 894.8 per cent.

Mass media
Mandarin TV channels
Since the 1990s, as part of its concerted effort to exert its influence
over various regions, beginning with South East Asia and later moving on to Africa and beyond, China has been making its presence
felt through the infiltration of its soft power, a term coined by Joseph
Nye in the late 1980s, which was subsequently used widely in academic and political circles. On the basis of Nyes discussion, Joshua
Kurlantzick (2006) examined the growth of Chinas soft power in a
broader manner and defined it as Chinas ability to influence by persuasion rather than coercion. According to Kurlantzick, China crafted
a more nuanced strategy reinforcing the concept of peaceful development through efforts like the establishment of Confucius Institutes,
expanding CCTVs international broadcasting and increasing the
provision of Chinese language teachers to the region (http://www.
carnegieendowment.org/files/PB_47 retrieved on 10 January 2009).

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

Recent development in the realm of television has indeed signalled

Chinas emergence and the massive global spread of the Chinese language and its culture. The development comprises two phases. The
first phase which started in the mid 1990s saw the establishment of
global Mandarin channels such as Chinese MTV and Chinese Cable
TV that were based in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, the
so-called Greater China region. Examples include Chinas CCTV4, Taiwans TVBS and CTN, and Hong Kongs Phoenix TV. These Mandarin
TV channels offer a broad mix of programmes ranging from information (e.g. news reports, current affairs and documentaries) to entertainment (e.g. movies, variety shows and MTV) for a world audience via
satellites. Although the content and focus of the various Mandarin TV
channels may differ, the underlying goal is a common one: to reach out
to a pan-Chinese audience, offering them greater diversity and a Chinese perspective in the global information flow and most importantly,
penetrating the media world with the soft power of the Greater China
The second phase began roughly at the beginning of the twenty-first
century. It is represented by the establishment of numerous regional
Mandarin TV channels USAs SinoVision Inc., China Star TV and
The Chinese Channel/World Today Television; Australias Channel 31;
Thailands TCTV and Japans CCTV DAIFU all aimed at servicing the
steadily expanding Chinese diasporic communities located in different
corners of the world.
The dynamic development of the global and regional Mandarin TV
channels reinforces our observation that with Chinas outward venture,
overseas non-native second language communities are fiercely expanding and there is tremendous demand and hence a vast market for
Chinese TV media worldwide. This development for Chinese TV media
has an important supporting role to play in the global spread of Mandarin
and of Chinese culture.
Print media
The history of overseas Chinese print media can be traced back to the
1900s. To date, about 500 newspapers/magazines are in active publication, out of which 100 are daily or weekly newspapers and about 230 are
magazines. Over the past decade, the most significant development of
Chinese print media is the emergence of corresponding online websites
which are capable of publishing and releasing news and information to
a worldwide audience as and when it happens, hence overcoming the
inherent time and geographical limitations of its hard-copy counterparts. Some examples include www.people.com.cn (Renminwang),

Global Mandarin

www.nanfangdaily.com.cn/southnews/ (Nanfangzhoumo), www.

zaobao.com (Lianhezaobaowang), www.yzzk.com (Yazhouzhoukan) and www.chinatimes.com (Zhongguoshibao) retrieved on 25 June
2009. An emerging trend worth observing is the establishment of the
online Chinese versions of traditionally non-Chinese publications,
the most prominent being BBC Chinese.com, which aims at offering
Western perspectives to the massive Chinese audience both within and
outside Chinas borders. Apart from signifying the existence of a worldwide market for online Chinese print media, the above rapid developments also lead to the establishment of a cross-border, cross-cultural
Chinese information platform which has an important role to play in
elevating Mandarins global status.

The current status of Mandarin

The growing dominance of China and its language has been strongly
felt in the global community, leading Newsweek (9 May 2005) and
Time magazine Asia (26 June 2006) to feature special reports in recent
issues to highlight the future upward prospect of the status and use of
Mandarin, emphasizing the growing importance of mastering the language. In its cover story: Chinas Century, Newsweek examined all
aspects of Chinas rise as a powerful global force and how it may challenge US pre-eminence. Special Correspondent William Lee Adams
reported that as China rushes towards superpower status, the State
Department has designated Chinese a critical language and in response
to this, American students are rushing to learn Chinese, as is evident in
the sharp increase in enrolment for Chinese classes in public schools.
Time magazine Asia, in its cover story entitled Get Ahead! Learn
Mandarin!, observed that millions of people worldwide are rushing to
learn Mandarin as it is currently seen as a key skill for people hitching their futures to Chinas economic rise. Quoting the words of David
Graddol, who noted that In many Asian countries, in Europe and the
USA, Mandarin has emerged as the new must-have language, the
report speculated that Mandarin is en-route to becoming the worlds
other lingua franca.
In a similar vein in A Bull in China (2007), American investor
and financial commentator Jim Rogers tells readers that The very best
advice of any kind that I can give you is to teach your children or your
grandchildren Chinese. It is going to be the most important language of
their lifetimes.
Assuming that Chinas growing dominance in international economic and political scenes is maintained, it would be reasonable to
predict that not too far off in the future, Mandarin will attain a global

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

status. It might be premature at this point in time when the world is in

the early stage of economic, political and demographic transition to
speculate on the possibility of Mandarin displacing English to become
the sole global language in the world. Nevertheless, it is certainly a
worthy candidate to take note of, with the potential to compete alongside English to be one of the worlds dominant languages.
The two-decade affair of Chinas economic development explains
why the rise of global Mandarin is only a recent event. Hence global
Mandarin as a worldwide phenomenon is still relatively in its infancy
and many teething problems remain to be solved. It is to these problems
that we now turn.

Defining Mandarin: problems of nomenclature

The nomenclature of language used in different Chinese communities is
a complex issue. Not only are different varieties called different names
in different regions, but to complicate matters, different terms are used
to distinguish spoken and written versions.
Mandarin, the spoken standard that belongs to one of the seven
major groups of Chinese languages (Yuan et al., 1960), is an internationally recognized standard language, officially defined as the common
language of China based on the northern dialects, with the Beijing phonological system as its norm of pronunciation (Norman, 1988, Zhou,
1997). However, this spoken version is referred to as Putonghua (the
common language) or Hanyu (literally the language of the Han, used
also to refer to its written form) in mainland China; Guoyu (national
language) in Taiwan; and Huayu (the language of the Hua = Chinese)
or Zhongguo yuwen (literally the language of China, referring to both
the spoken and written forms) in overseas Chinese communities. The
corresponding written forms are termed Guowen in Taiwan and Huawen beyond China.
The proliferation of names for the Chinese language is a result of
a particular set of historical nuances and continues to carry sociolinguistic overtones. It is a complex and sensitive topic requiring special
attention which will not be the focus of our discussion here. However,
we point out that the lack of a common term for the Chinese language,
especially within the realm of Chinese linguistics and sociolinguistics,
poses problems, and impedes discussion of the languages use, as it
often results in misconception and difficulties in establishing common
platforms. As such, for the benefit of our discussion here, Mandarin
is used to refer to the standard spoken forms of the Chinese language
that exist in all parts of the world. On the other hand, Chinese language, which includes both the spoken and written forms, is used

Global Mandarin

when discussing issues pertaining to the teaching and learning of CFL,

the internet or the mass media.

Barriers to the spread of Mandarin

Even though the momentous economic rise of the Inner Circle and
increasing globalization across the world have provided propitious conditions for the spread of Mandarin, pending cross-strait language issues
and other external factors are impeding the languages global spread.
First, as an international medium of communication, global Mandarin faces some orthographical barriers resulting from the historical confrontation and diverging political ideology of the governing parties of
mainland China and Taiwan. These orthographical barriers include competing standards of Jiantizi simplified Chinese characters versus Fantizi complex Chinese characters, and Hanyupinyin versus Zhuyinfuhao
phonetic transcriptions. China has adopted the simplified character and
Hanyupinyin systems while Taiwan opted for the complex character and
Zhuyinfuhao systems. As such, books, magazines, newspapers, dictionaries and teaching materials from the two regions come in different versions reflecting the said orthographical variations. From the perspective
of language education, the above man-made differences might not have
much impact on first language learning but they will certainly cause confusion in, and impose unnecessary difficulties on, the learning of Chinese
as a second or foreign language, which will in turn affect the learning
outcome and the effectiveness of cross-border communications.
The above differences in orthographical standards have also been
reflected in computer encoding systems, and gave rise to GB2313, the
first simplified Chinese character encoding system launched by China
in 1980, and shortly thereafter, the Big 5, its complex Chinese character
counterpart developed by Taiwan. This topic has been dealt with in
detail by Shouhui Zhao in his chapter in this book. As these two systems are incompatible, when internet users from the two sides of the
Taiwan straits use different operating systems to access one anothers
websites and email systems, they run into encoding problems and are
greatly inconvenienced. In recent years, although China has successfully developed GB18030, the upgraded version which has solved the
3-decade long problem of incompatibility between simplified and complex Chinese characters, the new system has yet to be formally accepted
by Taiwan.
The conflicting orthographical variations, if not standardized, will
handicap global Mandarin in its role as an international medium of
communication. The question of which standard to adopt is beyond the
dictates of any single individual. In the end, the present orthographical

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

barriers can only be removed via a political solution which entails tactful negotiations between mainland China and Taiwan.
Secondly, unresolved external issues arising from the standardization of the regional varieties of Mandarin in the Outer Circle have
given rise to hurdles in the path of global Mandarin. The formation of
regional varieties is the inevitable result of a languages spread to nonnative environments, giving rise to both a variety of forms and a diversity of cultural contexts within which the language is used in daily life.
Regional varieties arise out of differences in social lives and are sometimes a result of differing social ideologies. Take the naming of traditional
Chinese music in different territories as an example: in China, it is
termed minyue (ethnic music); in Taiwan, it is called guoyue (national
music); in Hong Kong, it is referred to as zhongyue (China music) and
in Singapore, it is known as huayue (Chinese music). Another oftenquoted example is the varying names used in different regions for the
term taxi. In Taiwan, it is known as jichengche (calculate-distance-vehicle); Hong Kong and Singapore each coined a translated version based
on its English pronunciation and call it dishi and deshi respectively; in
China, it is either called mianbaoche, which literally meant bread-car
or chuzuche (rent-car, a term which is used to refer to rental car in
Singapore!), and the act of taking taxi is referred to as dadi, a newly
emerged term which is difficult to comprehend in both its spoken and
written forms. As is evident from the above examples, these regional
variations, if left untackled, can pose difficulties in cross-border communication and language learning. However, as language is known to
be closely tied to territory, and to cultural identity, the standardization
of regional varieties has long been a contentious issue that has proven
to be easier said than done. As is the case for English, the attempt to
fix and ascertain the English language began as early as the eighteenth
century but was never entirely successful (Graddol, 2000).
When dealing with the standardization of regional varieties of
Mandarin, the conflicting issue of national loyalty versus international
intelligibility needs to be carefully considered and tactfully dealt with.
However, one developing trend worth noting is that the forces of globalization are challenging the long existing close bond between language,
territory and cultural identity, making a significant impact on the global use of a language. Modern communicative tools such as the internet have made it easier for language users from all regions to overcome
geographical barriers and come into frequent, wider and closer contact.
Over time, as the identity of global citizens gradually evolves and territorial differences diminish, it is possible that the regional varieties of a
language will slowly go through a process of self-adjustment and eventually coalesce to become a hybrid language that supersedes all regional

Global Mandarin

varieties and is commonly accepted and widely used in the global community. The possible emergence of such a hybrid Mandarin, which may
seem idealistic at this juncture, will help to eradicate territorial and
identity barriers and serve as the driving force behind its global spread.
The third barrier that needs to be overcome relates to a set of teething problems currently faced by the global Mandarin language service
industry, in particular, insufficient quality control over CFL courses
and the professional quality of Chinese language instructors, as well
as the lack of a set of common guidelines and international standards
in the administration of Chinese language proficiency tests. The CFL
teaching industry, which is still in the early stages of development, has
been caught unprepared by the sudden surge in demand. As a result,
there is a worldwide shortage of qualified instructors to effectively run
CFL courses. Due to the absence of an independent professional body
to monitor the Chinese language service industry, the quality of courses
varies greatly and so does the learning outcome. If left unchecked, this
might have a negative impact on the learning of the Chinese language
and impede the global spread of Mandarin.
Apart from conducting Chinese language courses, service providers
around the world are also competing intensely in the administration
of Chinese language proficiency tests. These tests, which aim to assess
the Chinese language proficiency of non-native speakers, usually form
part of the requirements for college admission or employment. As it is a
newly explored avenue which is capable of generating substantial revenue, a growing number of organizations and universities are designing
and administering their own version of Chinese language proficiency
tests, some of which are listed in Table 2.1 below:
Without a set of internationally recognized standards to fall back
on, the assessment criteria and grading systems adopted by the various
organizations vary considerably. As a result, the tests are somewhat
localized in nature and their results are usually recognized only in the
country or region where they are administered. From the perspective
of CFL learners, the lack of a widely accepted proficiency test like
the TOEFL test for the Chinese language is a great drawback in the
globalizing world where movement across different lands in search of
better education or job opportunities is quickly becoming a norm. In
order to clear the path for Mandarins spread, common guidelines and
internationally accepted standards need to be set.

Teaching Chinese as an international language

From its start in the 1950s, TCFL only began to take off in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution, after China started adopting a suite of

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

Table 2.1 Types of Chinese language proficiency tests

Name of test
Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi



Beijing Language and Culture

University, China
Steering Committee for
TOP-Huayu, Taiwan
College Board, USA

AP Chinese

College Board, USA


Centre for Applied Linguistics,

International schools
Japanese Association of
Chinese Language
Certification, Japan
Japanese Association for
Chinese Language Exchange,

Test of Proficiency Huayu TOP

Scholastic Assessment
Tests II
Advanced Placement
Test Chinese
Chinese Proficiency Test


International Baccalaureate
Chinese Proficiency
Test Japan

IB Chinese

Test of Communicative



open-door policies. In the 1980s, the first batch of renowned Chinese

universities, including Beijing Language and Culture University, Peking
University, Beijing Normal University, Fudan University, East China
Normal University, Xiamen University, Sun Yat-Sen University and
Jinan University, either resumed or began to set up CFL courses, recruiting foreign students on a large-scale. After a decade or so of speedy
development, a comprehensive programme structure, curriculum and
corresponding pedagogical resources were put in place, laying the foundation for the brand-new qingjinlai welcome era of TCFL, in conjunction with Chinas economic rise.
The welcome era saw a sudden rush of foreign students mainly
teenagers and adults from the Outer and Expanding Circle to China,
wanting to learn more about the country and its language. It had the
following characteristics: First, learners were highly motivated to learn
and their goals were clear-cut: they were either learning Mandarin to
facilitate communication with their Chinese business counterparts, or to
attain a level of proficiency that would allow them to live, study or make
a living in China. Second, they were immersed in a favourable social
environment that provided ample support for the learning of Mandarin,

Global Mandarin

as there was plenty of out-of-classroom language input as well as authentic situations for conversational practice. Blessed with such favourable
conditions, the learning outcome was, more often than not, favourable.
As China continues its economic expansion in the twenty-first century, the status of Mandarin rises accordingly and is creating strong
demand for Mandarin courses in the Outer and Expanding Circles.
TCFL has shifted from the qingjinlai welcome era to the zouchuqu
venture out era. The international market for the teaching and learning of CFL, as discussed earlier, is indeed a massive one. However, it
must be strongly emphasized that as the make-up of learners, and the
learning conditions and social environments of the various Circles are
distinctly different, the successful teaching and learning experiences of
CFL conducted in the Inner Circle might not be directly relevant to that
of the Outer and Expanding circles.
Take the teaching and learning of Chinese language in Singapore for
example. As a result of the successful implementation of educational and
language policies, Singapore despite being the only multi-ethnic nation
with a Chinese-majority population in the Outer Circle has undergone
a massive language shift over the past 4 decades. English has emerged
as the dominant language in all formal domains of daily life and is fast
becoming the dominant language in many homes (MM Lee Kuan Yews
speech on 17 March 2009, www.news.gov.sg/public/sgpc/en/media_
releases/agencies/mica/speech/S-20090317-1). Under the bilingual education system of Singapore, all ethnic Chinese pupils regardless of
their home language backgrounds are required to study the Chinese
language for a minimum of 10 years right from the day they enter primary one. As about half of todays primary one school cohort comes from
English-speaking homes (Singapore Ministry of Education Press Release,
11 February 2008), when teaching the Chinese language, teachers inevitably have to deal with the issue of language interference and negativetransference from English. In addition, as Chinese Language is the only
major academic subject that is taught using Mandarin as the medium
of instruction, there is insufficient exposure to the language as well as
limited scope for its use. This is made worse by the fact that the social
environment is English-dominant. Chinese teachers informally surveyed
have expressed concerns over the declining proficiency levels of their
students. They are also facing new challenges in the classrooms as children from English-speaking homes who are handicapped in Mandarin see
little relevance in mastering the language and are often unmotivated.
It can thus be concluded from the experience of Singapore that the
outcome of teaching Chinese language in foreign lands is dependent
on a range of factors which differ from one place to another. Transferring the teaching and learning experiences of CFL in the Inner Circle to

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

the Outer and Expanding circles might not produce the expected positive outcome. It is thus absolutely vital for educators and curriculum
designers to explore and design different learning packages that share
a common core curriculum and yet also take into consideration various regional social and communicative differences, and apply learning
strategies which will suit the varying needs of different types of learners under different circumstances.

Future prospects: challenges and opportunities

Mandarin is challenging the monopolistic position of English as a
global language. However, although the speed of Mandarins spread is
remarkable, it is unlikely that Mandarin will ever displace English to
become the sole global language as the position of English has arisen
from a particular history which no other language can, in the changed
world of the 21st century, repeat (Graddol, 2000: 58). As pointed out by
Graddol (ibid.: 4), there is a growing belief among language professionals that the future will be a bilingual, if not a multi-lingual one, in which
an increasing proportion of the world population will be proficient in at
least one second language in addition to their mother tongues. Keeping
in mind the global financial crisis of 2008, which has also affected China,
we are aware that the prospects for the global spread of Mandarin will be
dependent on the future economic development trajectory of the Chinese
economy. If China continues to expand at the economic pace of the past
two decades, the rise in its language status and consequent strong demand
for Chinese as a second or foreign language course will further strengthen
the global position of Mandarin, thereby granting it a competitive edge in
the world language ecological system of the twenty-first century.
The rise of global Mandarin represents a tremendous challenge to
specialists and educators in the teaching of Mandarin throughout the
world. They should not only seek to understand the variant features of
the respective circles of Mandarin users but also design different effective teaching strategies to meet the needs of different types of learners
so as to accelerate the speed of the globalization of Mandarin.

Albert Keidel (2008a), Chinas economic rise fact and ction, Policy Brief,
no. 61, at http://www.carnegieendowment.org/les/pb61_keidel_nal.pdf
retrieved on 25 June 2009.
Albert Keidel (2008b), Chinas economic rise a technical note, at http://www.
carnegieendowment.org/les/Technical_Note.pdf retrieved on 25 June 2009.
Crystal, D. (2003), English as a Global Language (Second Edition). Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.


Global Mandarin

Dor, Daniel (2004), From Englishization to imposed multilingualism: globalization, the internet, and the political economy of the linguistic code,
Public Culture, 16, 97118.
Dou, Delong (2008), Kongzixueyuan zai haiwai heyi fazhan Xunsu (Reasons
behind Confucius Institutes speedy expansion overseas) (in Chinese),
Jiefang Ribao, China, 13 February, at http://kbs.cnki.net/forums/45205
retrieved on 10 January 2009.
Graddol, D. (2000), The Future of English? A Guide to Forecasting thePopularity of the English Language in the 21st Century. London: The
British Council.
Guojia Yuyan Ziyuan Jiance yu yanjiu zhongxin (Chinese Linguistic Resources
Monitoring and Research Centre) (eds) (2006), Zhongguo yuyan shenghuo
zhuangkuang baogao 2005 (2006), Language Situation in China Report:
2005. Beijing: Commercial Press.
Hancock, John (1999), The language of success, Director, 53 (4), 3536.
Kachru, B. B. (1989), Standards, codication and sociolinguistic realism:
the English language in the outer circle, in R. Quirk and H. G. Widdowson
(eds), English in the World: Teaching and Learning the Language and
Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1130.
Kurlantzick, Joshua (2006), Chinas charm: implications of Chinese soft
power, Policy Brief, 47, at http://www.carnegieendowment.org/les/
PB_47 retrieved on 25 June 2009.
Martin Jacques (2008), Chinese diaspora exes its muscles worldwide, China
Daily, China, 18 June, at http://chinadaily.cn/opinion/2008-06/18/ retrieved
on 25 June 2009.
Ministry of Education, Singapore (2008), Enhanced programmes by Special
Assistance Plan Schools to enrich students learning of Chinese language
and values, Singapore Ministry of Education Press Release, 11 February.
National Bureau of Statistics of P. R. China. (2008), China Statistical Yearbook
2008. China: China Statistics Press.
Norman, J. (1988), Chinese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rogers, J. (2007), A Bull in China. New York: Random House Publishing Group.
Yuan, Jiahua (ed.) (1960), Hanyu fangyan gaiyao (An outline of Chinese
dialects) (in Chinese). Beijing: Wenzi Gaige Chubanshe.
Zhou, Youguang (1997), Zhongguo yuwen de shidai yanjin (The temporal
development of the Chinese language) (in Chinese). Beijing: Qinghuadaxue

Online resources
(retrieved on 25 June 2009)


Muslim Education and

Globalization: The Re-(de)positioning of Languages
and Curriculum Content in
Southeast Asia
Saeda Buang

Chapter summary
This chapter is about the socio-historical development of Malay,
English and Arabic languages in Muslim education and its polemics and paradoxes in relation to globalization. Though I explore the
politics of all three languages, my focus is on the reemergence of
Arabic as the new global language. A survey of the madrasah system in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia will be presented as a
case study to analyze the re-(de)positioning of the curricular content of the madrasah schools in the face of their ever-increasing
micro and macro challenges. I argue that the more prominent use of
English language in religious education does not necessarily mean
the devaluation of Arabic language in the madrasah education system, although the same cannot be said about the Malay language.
Arabic language in the madrasah schools, whether for Islamization
of knowledge or to serve growing socio-economic demands and
pragmatism, has outgrown its main religious domain in the face of

My topic requires specific qualifications of terminologies to avoid misinterpretations, misdirected discourse and conclusions. First, I wish to
differentiate between two imperatives which are extensively used but
not interchangeably in our discussion, namely, Islamic education and
Muslim education. While Islamic pertains directly to the faith and its
doctrines a realm of ideals and theory, Muslim refers to the interpretive works and acts by followers of Islam in approximating those ideals
(Douglas and Shaik, 2004).

Muslim Education and Globalization

To go a step further, Muslim education may also entail the education to, for, of and by the Muslims. Rukhsana Zias (2006) attempt,
for instance, to study general education for the general population
Muslims and non-Muslims inclusive made available by Muslim leaders in Muslim-majority countries such as Malaysia, Turkey, Iran and
others may be categorized under the more general term of Muslim education. However, due to the scope of this chapter, I limit my discussion
to the Muslim educational institutions, namely the madrasah, loosely
defined as Muslim religious schools, and to a certain extent the pondok
and pesantren, in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia for the Muslim
community in the said countries. In a nutshell, I am looking at the education provided by the madrasah which is traditionally known for its
strong religious curriculum inclusive of Arabic language, and its development in the face of globalization in Southeast Asia.
Based on the statistics of the three countries, the madrasah students
constitute a small fraction of the total student population in relation to
those attending national schools. There were 4,148 full-time madrasah
students in 2007 (Singapore, Education Statistics Digest, 2007), constituting about 21 per cent from the total Malay/Muslim students
(Primary, Secondary and Pre-University/college levels) or 0.77 per cent
out of the total student population in Singapore. Madrasah students in
Indonesia were estimated at 5,995,191 or 16.4 per cent in contrast to
their 36,522,648 counterparts in national schools in 2006 (Department
Pendidikan Nasional, Badan Penelitian dan Pengembangan, Pusat
Statistik Pendidikan, 2005/2006). Out of this figure, it was estimated
that 2 million children were studying in the countrys 11,000 to
14,000 pesantrens (South China Morning Post, 31 October 2006; The
Advertiser, 11 August 2007). There were about 65,087 madrasah students in Malaysia in 2005 attending Sekolah Agama Negeri (states religious school) or SAN and Sekolah Agama Bantuan Kerajaan (government
aided religious school) or SABK at the Primary and Secondary levels,
or 2.9 per cent of the total student population in that country (Ministry
of Education, Malaysia, 2007). The madrasah figure in Malaysia is very
modest if we were to consider the presence of 126,000 students attending
500 Sekolah Agama Rakyat (Peoples religious schools, which are privately run) or SAR in 2003 alone (New Straits Times, 22 January 2003).
In the beginning of 2005, as many as 94 SARs (Primary and Secondary)
were re-registered as SABK following a decree by the Malaysian government (Ministry of Education, Malaysia, Pelan Induk Pembangunan
Pendidikan 20062010; 2006: 21) but I suspect that many more remained
outside SABK and are not captured in the statistics.
The socio-religio-historical background of the Muslims that has
shaped the objectives, content and pedagogy of Muslim education

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

curriculum needs to be briefly discussed to set the stage for our discussion on the positioning and re-(de)positioning of the said three
languages. I approach globalization as a continuum of mans sociopolitical experiences and historical narratives. I focus on four significant socio-religio-historical experiences of the Muslims in this region;
viz. the coming of Islam; the rise of the reformist movement; the Islamization movement, and the postmodern era that witnesses wide-spread
phenomenon of globalization. The impact of colonization, education
policies of the three countries and global events are discussed as integral parts of the said socio-religio-historical experiences. The positioning of Arabic, Malay and English languages along, against and during
the said four major events is the main discourse of this chapter.

The coming of Islam and the place of education

If the transfer or flow of ideas and migration from one end of the
globe or one civilization to another partly characterizes globalization
(Appadurai, 1996: 28), the coming of Islam that transformed the faith,
culture and weltanschauung of the once animistBuddhistHindu
Malays in the Malay Archipelago can be construed as the product and
process of early globalization. It has been documented that the presence of Muslim religious education precedes other forms of educational
institutions in early Singapore, Malaysia (Chelliah, 1947: 35; Abdullah
bin Abdul Kadir Munshi, 1939: 1422) and Indonesia. The origins of
Muslim education in Malaysia and Indonesia are well documented
(Abdullah Zakaria bin Ghazali, 1979: 196238).1 In fact, the existence
of scores of Muslim religious clerics in twelfth-century Aceh, has led
many historians to conclude that Islam must have come to Aceh even
earlier (Mahmud Yunus, 1985: 10; Azyumardi Azra, 2005: 8). As a
result of the early Islamization process, Indonesia is now the country
with the worlds largest Muslim population. Eighty-seven per cent of its
218.9 million people in 2005 (Statistics Indonesia, 2005) are Muslims,
and 55 per cent of Malaysias 26.7 million people in 2005 are adherents of
Islam. Unlike the Muslim majority of Indonesia and Malaysia, the Malays in
Singapore numbered only 490,600 or 13.7 per cent of the total residents
figure of 3,583,100 in 2007,2 making them a minority in the Chinesemajority city state. The Malay/Muslims of the three countries mainly
use Malay language; a language indigenous to Peninsular Malaysia,
Singapore, Sumatera, and the group of islands south of Singapore, better
known as the Riau-Lingga Archipelago. Malay is recognized as the national
language a language officially designated the language of a nation usually for cultural, political and/or ethnic reasons (McArthur, 1998) for
the three nations albeit it is merely ceremonial in the case of Singapore.

Muslim Education and Globalization

It is also the city states official language (that is used in its government
and administration), alongside Mandarin, Tamil and English.
Al-Attas (1972: 5) reports that Islam came to the Malay Archipelago3
couched in Sufi metaphysics and that it was through tasawwuf (metaphysics), the highly intellectual and rationalistic religious discipline,
rationalism and intellectualism were imbibed into the Muslim minds.
The Muslims in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore are largely Asharis
adherents, who uphold Shafii fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence and followers of Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jamaah, or the Sunnis, indicating those
who follow the way (sunnah) of the Prophet Muhammad and hold
fast to the unity of Muslims (jamaah). These theological perspectives
shaped the religious orientation of the Muslims and consequently, the
curriculum content of the early Muslims education in the region.
Theology as a primary science constitutes the depth and breadth of
the curriculum adopted by the Muslims in early-nineteenth century
and supported by auxiliary sciences that promote moral values or adab.
Essentially, the curriculum was based on the notion of taxonomy of
knowledge, where disciplines are stratified or given differing status
according to their assumed importance, usually from the perspective of
religion. Consequently, in communities where multiple languages are
available as media of instruction for these disciplines, these languages
are also consciously or subconsciously stratified. Due to the extensive
influence of the taxonomy of knowledge on religious orientation of
the Muslims and the status of the languages, a brief discussion on this
aspect is necessary.

The taxonomy of knowledge and its place in religious education

In determining the types of knowledge to be learned in the madrasah
and its hierarchy, Muslims in this region were influenced by the taxonomy of knowledge promulgated by Al-Ghazali (AD 10581111), a
prominent Muslim scholar of the thirteenth century. Al-Ghazali distinguishes knowledge into two bodies, religious sciences or sacred knowledge and non-religious sciences or profane knowledge. He epitomizes
shariah or religious sciences, particularly on tauhid (knowledge on the
unity of God) which includes the essence and attributes of God, at the
apex of the strata of knowledge and labels shariah as fard ain. Other
sciences such as usul fiqh or principles of jurisprudence, arithmetic
and natural sciences are regarded as praiseworthy or profane knowledge or fard kifayah, the auxiliary sciences. The Quran as the primary
source of tauhid and shariah are included in the realm of fard ain, and
consequently Arabic language, the language of the Quran has higher
importance in the strata of knowledge.

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

The taxonomy of knowledge and its impacts on languages

a. The premier position of Arabic
Arabic belongs to the Semitic language family which has a recorded
history going back thousands of years. It took root and flourished in the
TigrisEuphrates river basin and in the coastal areas of the Levant.4
That the Quran is sent down to mankind in the Arabic language
becomes the primary basis of its commanding position in the religion of
Islam. Verses pertaining to the Arabic language as the chosen tongue for
the Quran are numerous (The Holy Quran, Chapter 12: 2; Chapter 13: 37;
Chapter 41: 44; Chapter 42: 7; Chapter 43: 30; Chapter 17: 103). Arabic
language is taken to be synonymous to the language of Islam. The Quran
is embraced as a divine guidance for mankind. The need to place those
words of guidance close to the heart of the Muslims, and when taken in
its literal sense, gives rise to the close observation of zikr and hafz (memorization). Both are the key pedagogies of reading the Quran. Zikr means
mention, or reminder or recollection and has very wide significance
in both Quranic and devotional usage. To repeat the words of the Quran
verbally is, therefore, by Islamic faith a sacramental participation.
The second primary source of shariah, viz. hadith, or a collection of
texts on the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, was originally recorded
in Arabic. In addition, the recital of compulsory daily prayers or solat
and the rites of pilgrimage are explicitly practised in Arabic language.
The classical Islamic religious canons covering important branches of
knowledge such as jurisprudence, philosophy and tauhid are also written in Arabic; hence, the language has taken a premium position, above
and beyond, all other languages, including Malay language, the indigenous language of the Malay Archipelago. Conclusively, its premier function as a medium of instruction in religious education was established.
b. The promotion of Malay language and its functional use
However, Arabic was foreign to the new Muslim converts and a new
medium had to be found through which Islamic literature could be presented. To fill this role, Malay language, according to Al-Attas (1972:
3637), was purposefully and categorily chosen by the early missionaries partly because it was used as a lingua franca in a limited sense
in trade and in relevant parts of the Archipelago, and mainly because
it was not an aesthetic religious language like the Javanese. Unlike
Javanese, Malay language was at that time relatively less cluttered with
terminologies of the early religions traditions. The teaching of the concepts and terminologies of Islam via Malay language was therefore, considered less difficult. In defending his theory of language selection for

Muslim Education and Globalization

religious dissemination via Malay language, Al-Attas equates the purity

of Arabic language with Malay language which he believed was not
loaded with myths, superstitions and extremely complicated metaphysics of the early religions traditions; a condition found in the Javanese
language (Al-Attas, 1972). Malay language, in other words, contains less
interferences to disfigure the new religions terminology and conceptions in their original and pure form. Asmah Haji Omar (2005), on the
other hand, comments that Malay language, before the coming of Islam
and until the fourteenth century and beyond, had achieved the status
of high language (H-language), functioning as the language of governance and diplomacy, and acting as a vehicle in the spread of Hinduism,
Buddhism and Islam. It was a lingua franca in the region, used in daily
communication among the populous, royal court deliberations, business transactions, states political affairs and religious studies.
Due to using Malay as the medium of instruction for religious studies, its status was reinforced. In another but related development, the
old Malay script of Indian derivation was substituted by a new script.
Jawi script was introduced, which consists of all the 29 letters of the
Arabic alphabet together with five newly invented non-Arabic letters
to suit the tongue of the Malays, viz. (cha), (nga), (ga), (pa) and
(nya). By AD 1303 the new alphabet was completely formed (Omar
Awang, 1980: 55). With the new script, the Malay language flourished
and was elevated from oral tradition to literary status, particularly from
and since fifteenth century with the emergence of a large body of Malay
translated religious texts or kitab jawi. Kitab jawi (jawi scriptures) are
mostly translations, adaptations from the original Arabic texts on Islam
or hashiah (critiques) of the original texts, with the views and interpretations of the local ulama (religious scholars or clerics) prominently
presented. It was extensively used in religious classes as reading materials to explain difficult religious concepts and Arabic terminologies.
The heavy use of Arabic loan words prominently in these classical texts
contributes to the adaptation of more Arabic terms in Malay language
which lends more importance to the language.
To illustrate the extensive use of Arabic application in the Malay
communitys life, I introduce Zabas (18951973), a leading linguist
in the circle of Malay literati, categorization of the multitude of Arabic
loan words into six domains, viz. religious concepts; religious sciences
and philosophy; thoughts and emotions; laws and regulations; customs
and cultural traditions; and codes associated with daily events (Zaba,
2002: 274276). Conversely, kitab jawi promotes the importance of
Malay language in the study of religion. To argue further, I support the
views of Al-Attas (1972) and Asmah Haji Omar (2005) that the active
transfer of Islamic religious ideas and practices in the early period of

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

Malay development further raised Malay language from the language

of daily utility to H-language, capable of articulating higher order concepts and discourses.
Thus socio-historically, both Arabic and Malay languages function
and purposes are intertwined in the domain of religion and religious
education. However, due to the commanding presence of the Ghazalian
taxanomy of knowledge, the two H-languages do not have the same status in the taxonomy, as echoed in Munsyi Abdullahs personal accounts
in 1840 (Abdullah, 1939: 32):
In the mind of the people it is not necessary to study Malay language, our own mother tongue language. Furthermore, since the
olden days there was never established a Malay language class, but
only the Quranic classes and the learning of the Arab language; the
only useful language for religion and the hereafter, and the most
respectable language among the Muslims.

While the formal study of Arabic language was relentlessly pursued, in

the early communitys consciousness, Malay language acquisition was
a natural process and inherent quality of the community, sufficiently
developed via the process of socialization at the informal and nonformal levels, at home and within the communitys circles of educational
and socio-cultural activities. In other words, although it was Malay language that lends meaning and context in the study of religion, the study
of the language in a formal setting is less urgent in relation to Arabic
language. I am aware of the presence of Malay scholars specializing in
the writing of Malay classical texts, be it religious (in the form of kitab
jawi) or literature (hikayat). Munsyi Abdullah in 1840s was reported
to humble himself at the feet of two accomplished Malay linguists in
Malacca, Datok Sulaiman and Datok Astur (Abdullah, 1939: 3233) to
inquire about the intricacies of Malay language. Nonetheless, Munsyi
Abdullahs learning of the language was based on individual effort,
done singly and out of the prevailing norms. In contrast, upon hearing
of the presence of a Quranic scholar from Yaman in Malacca, Abdullah
and about 50 male adults of Malacca collectively persuaded the scholar
to teach and oversee them in perfecting the mechanics of Quran recital
for about a year in the 1840s despite having gone through Quran classes
for many years in their early years of education (Abdullah, 1939: 45).
c. The peripheral position of English language
English language, on the other hand, was seen as the language of and for
colonization and Christianization, simply because it was the tongue of
the colonial masters whose interests were purely to reap the wealth of

Muslim Education and Globalization

the land for imperialism. It was unthinkable therefore to use the imperialists language to decode Islamic texts at that time in the history of
the Malay Archipelago. Except for one Malay-vernacular school, English was not even included in the syllabus of the colonial-sponsored
Malay vernacular schools until 1950s (Frisby, 1950: 12).

The brief emergence of the reformist movement

and the (re)positioning of languages
The early 1900s was a critical period when a significant wave of inflow of reformist ideas from Egypt 5 to the Malay Archipelago via the
journal Al-Manar and returning students mostly from Cairo, Egypt took
place. The goal was to liberate the Muslims from prevailing socio-political apathy, economic and educational backwardness, and cultural
religious decadence through educational and religious reforms. A
group of local Muslim reformists led by Syed Sheikh al-Hadi, in 1907
set up the Madrasah Al-Iqbal in Singapore and made an unprecedented
move to liberalize religious curriculum by including three languages,
Arabic, Malay and English, in the madrasahs syllabus. Going against the
prevalent religious educational institutions and the Muslim majoritys
traditional beliefs and practices, subjects such as geography, history,
health education, general science and arithmetic were also included
to equip students with necessary knowledge and skills to counter
colonization and face new socio-economic challenges. By including
other languages, Al-Iqbal did not alter the premier position of Arabic
but instead buttressed it further. The madrasah strongly advocated the
study of Arabic language as the primary source of Quranic, hadith and
religious knowledge, a critical instrument in defining true conception
and practices from the false, and to counter blind obedience or taqlid
in religion. In the same breath, the reformists also acknowledged the
importance of establishing a standard grammar of Malay language. The
importance of English language was recognized as the language for science and technology and as a means for socio-economic advancement
(Abu Bakar Hamzah, 1991: 372375).
However, the call for reform fell on deaf ears and the repositioning of
Malay and English was rejected and worse, the madrasah was shunned,
criticized and finally had to be closed down after a year in operation.
As in the past, Arabic remained the only language considered worthy
of being learnt in most madrasahs in Singapore and Malaysia, except
a handful of reformed madrasahs such as Madrasah Al-Masyhur in
Penang, in 1918, which was run by the same Al-Hadi who established
Al-Iqbal in Singapore earlier. However, in a slightly better position than
in Singapore and Malaysia, popular reformist religious organizations

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

like Muhammadiyah of Indonesia went one step further by providing

two parallel systems of education, one that was run similar to government schools with additional religious subjects, and another that was
fundamentally religious with some secular subjects in its curriculum.
In both instances, Malay and Dutch languages were offered.
Generally, and outside the limited circle of influence of the reformists, a state of status quo for Arabic, Malay and English language was
re-established in the early 1900s of Pre-independence era. Not only did
English language have no participatory role in religious education, it
was to stay out of the madrasah curriculum in totality. The madrasahs
continued to offer Arabic and claimed Arabic language as the medium
of instruction. By virtue of this characteristic, these schools were
also known as Sekolah Arab (Arabic school). From 1949 until 1958,
the Department of Education Annual Report by the Colonial Office in
Singapore used the term Arabic schools in their survey of Miscellaneous Private Schools, indicating the widely perceived notion, rightly
or wrongly, that Arabic was the only primary and premier language of
instruction in the madrasahs.

The rise of government-sponsored schools and its impacts

on the madrasahs curriculum contents
The 1950s saw the rise of vernacular and English schools run by the
newly independent governments of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. This event had prompted the madrasahs to offer subjects along the
line of national schools to maintain their relevance. My survey involving
30 madrasahs prevalent in Singapore in 1958 confirmed this trend (Saeda
Buang, 2009). Except for 6 full-time madrasahs, all are now defunct. All the
30 madrasahs investigated offered Arabic language and Diniah (religious
knowledge). This proved the continuation of uncontested superior position
of Arabic language as a H-language and formal subject.
Has the situation changed since nineteenth century and earlier with
regard to Malay language? My research shows that the tradition of using
Malay as a language of religious instruction was continued. Twenty-four
madrasahs or 80.8 per cent conducted Diniah in Malay only or both
Malay and Arabic interchangeably (see Figure 3.1). Thus the unwritten,
yet widely accepted policy of using the Malay language to comprehend
complex religious concepts was maintained.
My findings are contrary to the popular belief that Arabic language
was the single or predominant medium of instruction in relation to
other languages in madrasah (therefore the institution was known as
sekolah Arab). Interestingly, out of 30 madrasahs, only 6 madrasahs
indicated Arabic as the only and official medium of instruction. The

Muslim Education and Globalization

rest reported that they used both Malay and Arabic languages. The six
madrasahs are Aljunied, Alsagoff, Al-Marif, Al-Diniah, Hidayah and
Sekolah Rayat Bustanul Arifin. Instead, Malay language was predominantly used as the medium of instruction for many subjects, other than
Diniah. For example, Malay language was utilized more frequently by
55 per cent of madrasahs as the medium of instruction in relation to
Arabic (40.3 per cent) and English language (4.7 per cent) for the eleven
subjects offered. Out of eleven subjects, as reflected in Figure 3.1, Malay
language was chosen by 24 madrasahs as the medium of instruction for
9 subjects, while Arabic was exclusively utilized by only 6 madrasahs for six subjects. Taking each subject individually, 6 madrasahs or
50 per cent of madrasahs offering History used Malay language, while
13 out of 15 madrasahs offering arithmetic employed Malay as the
language of instruction. Out of 6 madrasahs offering Geography, 5 or
83.3 per cent taught the subject in Malay. Malay language was solely
used to instruct less popular subjects such as Hygiene, General Knowledge, Physical Exercise and Sewing.

The rise of nationalism and further strengthening

of Malay language
Parallel to the rise of vernacular and English schools, Independence for
both Malaysia and Indonesia in 1945 and 1957 respectively, saw the

Diniah History Arithmetic Geograph Writing English Hygiene







Arabic instruction


Malay instruction


English instruction

Total no. of madrasah




Figure 3.1 Subjects offered in madrasah according to medium of instruction,

1958. Notes: P. E. denotes Physical Exercise and G. K. refers to General Knowledge.
Data is based on each madrasahs records, 1958. Source: Saeda Buang (2009).


Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

emergence of Malay language as a tool to heighten nationalism, nationbuilding and socio-political unification among many races and tongues
in both countries. The rise of Malay language phenomenon that occurred
in both countries was also evident in religious educational institutions
in Singapore. Based on the same survey, I observed that 19 madrasahs
or 65.5 per cent offered Malay language but under a different name, viz.
Writing and Grammar (see Figure 3.1). The content of the syllabus was
very much fashioned after the teaching and learning of the Malay language in Malay schools then (including using similar textbooks). Thus
Malay language was gaining more prominence at both the academic and
functional levels (as a formal academic subject and medium of instruction); a direct contrast to its early position in the nineteenth century, in the
realm of religious education as a direct or/and indirect result of nationalism and political independence. Although offered by only 6 madrasahs
(20 per cent), which indicates that the functional role of English language
for socio-economic progress was dismal, English was increasingly recognized by the madrasahs. At any rate, such a small step reflects the changing perception of madrasahs fraternity towards the language.
As a result of the liberal democracy movement in Indonesia, from
1950 onwards, a decree was passed by the government to replace Dutch
language with Malay or Bahasa Indonesia as the language of instruction in all vernacular schools, except those special schools attended
specifically by Dutch children (Redja Mudyahardjo, 2001: 388). The
repositioning of Malay and English languages was strengthened in
this instance, but the curriculum space of religious subjects reduced
due to the imposition of another new education policy. For example,
during the reign of New Order under the leadership of Suharto in
1966, in Indonesia, the minimal percentage allocation of 30 per cent
secular subjects and 70 per cent religious subjects for all madrasahs
was decreed leading to the shrinking of curriculum spaces for religious subjects. Nonetheless, such policy changes did little to dent the
Arabic languages long-established socio-religious domains. At least in
one study on the significance of Al-Azhar University of Cairo in the
religious development in Indonesia (Abaza, 1993: 23), the presence of
a large number of Egyptian Azharites, a title given to the graduates,
students and academics of the Al-Azhar University, who were sent as
missionaries, teachers and preachers in 1989 in Indonesia, as well as
the thousands of Indonesian students studying in the said university,
indicated that the positioning of Arabic as the super-H language in the
religious domain was maintained.
In the case of Malaysia, under the National Education Policy, two
major initiatives were introduced which changed the position of Arabic
language and consequently, weakened the madrasah (Rosnani Hashim,

Muslim Education and Globalization

1996; Hassan Langgulung and Che Noraini Hashim, 2005: 10). One initiative was the use of Malay language or national language instead of
Arabic as the medium of instruction for religious and non-religious subjects. The second was the introduction of more non-religious subjects
such as Malay language, English, Mathematics, Geography, History, and
General Science, thus displacing religious subjects to make room for
new non-religious subjects. Unlike in Singapore where the madrasahs
are private institutions with their own set of curricula, most madrasahs
or Sekolah Agama Rakyat (peoples religious schools or SAR) in Malaysia have been under the official purview of the government since 1930s,
and therefore, directly impacted by the Policy. The Education Act of 1961
which was based on the Razak Report (1956) and Rahman Talib Report
(1960) issued directives for the inclusion of Islamic religious subjects
and moral education in the national schools from 1962 onwards. With
these initiatives, the madrasah was seen to be relinquishing its power
as the sole supplier of Islamic knowledge and Arabic language. English
language was offered as a compulsory subject, but its position remained
a status quo, viz. peripheral in the realm of religious curriculum.
However, all was not lost for Arabic from this change of events. While
the central positioning of Arabic seemed weakened and taken over by
Malay language due to the undercurrent of nationalism, the importance
of religious knowledge was elevated to an exceptional height both by
general and madrasah education in order to produce a wholesome
man, as reflected in the newly formulated educational philosophy:
Education in Malaysia is an on-going effort towards further developing the potential of individuals in a holistic and integrated manner, so as to produce individuals who are intellectually, spiritually,
emotionally and physically balanced and harmonious, based on
a firm belief in and devotion to God. Such an effort is designed
to produce Malaysian citizens who are knowledgeable and competent, who possess high moral standards, and who are responsible and capable of achieving a high level of personal well being as
well as being able to contribute to the harmony and betterment of
the society and the nation at large. (Malaysia, Ministry of Education, Curriculum Development Centre, 1983; quoted from Rosnani
Hashim, 1996: 150)

Blurring the lines of domains and

re-(de)positioning of languages as
the impacts of globalization
The current reallocation of large-scale economic investments by
Western industrial giants from their countries of origin to the eastern

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

region of the globe has been seen as another wave of globalization that
has affected significantly the economy of most nations. It poses a set
of new challenges for madrasah education which is perceived by the
Muslim community as a threat to morality and religious values, along
with the re-expansion of economic bullying by wealthy nations over
poor and developing states. At the same time, many acknowledge that
globalization necessitates the teaching and learning of new and relevant
knowledge to get one ready for the knowledge-based economy and fluidity of information in a fast-paced and borderless world (Kamar Oniah
Kamaruzaman, 2005; Saqib, 1981; Ali Riaz, 2008). The influx of information is seldom apolitical, or acultural, and its negative influences on
the Muslims captures the imagination of Muslim educators.
Madrasah education faces globalization at two fronts: economy and
values-orientation. The national schools in Singapore, Malaysia and
Indonesia that offer general, technical and/or vocational education
were more than ready to absorb the impacts of globalization on the
economy and knowledge development by reconstructing their curriculum to include knowledge and skills on information technology
with equally up-to-date school infrastructure. Muslim education, on
the other hand, tackled the issue and challenges of globalization by
taking a more philosophical stance and approach, viz. via Islamization
of knowledge.

The madrasahs varied strategies in facing globalization

a. Islamization of knowledge
In 1970s, calls for the reconstruction of madrasah curriculum based on
Islamization of knowledge approach captured the centre stage of many
discourses on Islamic education. Islamization of knowledge was the
buzz phrase particularly after it was presented and accepted, both as
a concept and educational framework, at the First World Conference
on Muslim Education held in Mecca in 1977. To face the challenges of
globalization, the taxonomy of knowledge long held by the madrasahs
now needs reevaluation. The concept of the unity of knowledge, where
both religious and non-religious knowledge are constituted as one body
of knowledge, originated from the same source, viz. the Almighty, was
reemphasized and strengthened. The call for more sciences, such as
philosophy, the art, and modern science and technology to be embraced
by Muslim education was made, but with a twist. The traditional classification dividing fard ain and fard kifayah, or naqli (knowledge based
on revelation) and aqli (knowledge accrued from mans reasoning and
experiences), was now blurred. All knowledge is to be embraced but by

Muslim Education and Globalization

using the filter of Islam. Islamization of knowledge requires the reinterpretation of knowledge from the perspectives of Islam.
b. Pragmatism and the reforms in curriculum content
The 6 surviving full-time madrasahs 6 in Singapore, regardless of the
Islamization of knowledge blueprint, made a pragmatic calculation and
went ahead to reconstruct their curriculum content to replicate that
of the national schools that have long been preparing its students for
knowledge-based economy and globalization. Since 1971, madrasahs
took the initiative to prepare their students in subjects such as Mathematics, Geography, English language and Malay language for the nationalstandardized examinations, the General Certificate of Education
O (Ordinary) and A (Advance) level examinations as private candidates. With good nationally and internationally recognized academic
qualifications, the madrasahs realized that their graduates stand a
good chance in the competitive labour market. Majlis Ugama Islam of
Singapore (MUIS), a central governing body of Muslim affairs in Singapore, spear-headed the efforts to equip madrasah students with
information technology skills by implementing the Information Technology Master Plan (ITMP), including the setting up of IT infrastructure
in madrasah, the creation of IT culture via an IT resource centre and
integration of IT into the madrasah curriculum, and the wide-based
application of IT skills by teachers and students teaching and learning
(Warita Kita, NovDec, 1998).
The Compulsory Education (CE) Act which was enacted by the parliament in Singapore in 2000 had directly or indirectly reconstructed
the madrasah curriculum further. Under CE, 6 years primary education in national schools is mandatory for all Singapore citizens and
who are residing in the country. Six full-time madrasahs, and a San
Yu Adventist School, were exempted from the Act so long as their
affected cohort of students achieves the average aggregate score in
the national-standardized examinations: The Primary School Leaving
Examination (PSLE).7 The traditional allocation of curriculum period
of 3070 for Primary level (30 per cent non-religious subjects and
70 per cent religious subjects) was abolished to make way for more
instruction in Mathematics, Science, English and Malay, in keeping with the number of curriculum hours allocated by the national
schools for the said subjects. In the case of Singapore, pragmatism and
externally coerced measures had affected changes in curriculum content that led to the reduction of religious subject instruction, at least
at the Primary level where the allocation of 3070 or even 5050 can
no longer hold.

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

Short of being classified as Islamization of knowledge in approach

but better-known under the concept of integration of knowledge, MUIS
as the governing body of the madrasahs in Singapore launched its
$8 million new religious curriculum project by commissioning Bostonbased Iqra International Educational Foundation to design a new syllabus for religious subjects from Primary to Secondary level under the
Curriculum Development Project (CDP) scheme in 2000. Each religious
subject which has been traditionally taught discretely is now seen as
supplementing and complementing other subjects, hence it is combined with one or two more subjects to achieve more impactful and
unifying results.8

The rise of English language and the depositioning

of Malay language
The madrasahs continue to function as the repository of Arabic and
religious knowledge. Under the new curriculum, the emphasis on learning to recite the Arabic text fluently with tajwid and tartil, as well as
the development of the Quranic vocabulary has not diminished. While
the understanding and application of the messages of the Quran is now
emphasized, the traditional practice of memorization remains, in keeping with the tradition of tahfiz ul-Quran from the days of the Prophet
(MUIS, Quranic Studies Syllabus, 2003: 8). Essentially, the positioning
of Arabic language as the language of Islam is maintained. However, a
face-off occurred between the Malay and English language which has
transformed the positioning of both languages. To respond effectively
to globalization and knowledge-based economy, Malay languages traditional function as the medium of instruction for religious knowledge
is now conferred to English language. English is widely accepted as a
universal language, deemed better able to equip students with communicative skills for future economy and technological advancements. The
new syllabus, inclusive of Islamic Social Studies and Quranic Studies,
among others, uses English as the medium of instruction.
MUIS took this bold step to keep pace with the Muslim communitys
increasing trend of using English as the dominant language at home.
The Population Census of 2000 shows that 7.9 per cent of the Malay/
Muslim community in 2000 observed English as the dominant language
at home; an increase of 1.8 per cent from the figure of 6.1 per cent in
1990. In contrast, 91.6 per cent of the community in 2000 use Malay
as the dominant language at home in relation to 93.7 per cent in 1990
(Leow Bee Geok, 2001); indicating a 2.1 per cent decline. My survey
conducted in 2005 and 2006 involving 287 madrasah students establishes that Malay as the sole and dominant language at home is still

Muslim Education and Globalization

vastly observed by 92.4 per cent of the students (See Figure 3.2). Significantly, my findings demonstrate that such percentage is relatively
higher than the national census figure of 91.6 per cent (in 2000), and
even higher than the Ministry of Education Survey in 2005 that records
71.4 per cent of Malay students using Malay as the dominant language
at home (Singapore Ministry of Education Survey, 2005).
It is evident from Figure 3.2 that Malay still stands as the most frequently
used dominant language at home by 92.4 per cent of students in relation to
English (5.3 per cent), Arabic (1.8 per cent), and Urdu/Tamil (0.5 per cent).
I confirmed the findings by asking 50 parents whose children participated
in the survey to indicate their dominant language used at home. The findings are similar. Malay as the dominant language is also observed by 81 per
cent of parents, followed by English (15 per cent), and Arabic (4 per cent)
(Saeda Buang, 2009: 290).
Conclusively, the use of English as another dominant language at
home is on the increase within the Malay community as shown by
the National Census 1990 and 2000. Based on such calculation, MUIS
believes that English language in the realm of religious education
would be more readily accepted by the majority of madrasah students
and hence, helpful in increasing their level of comprehension in and
appreciation of religious knowledge. Rules of pragmatism also drive
the decision which MUIS hopes would enhance students mastery of
English and improve the performance of Malay children in academic
subjects and examination performance.
Impressed with the balanced curriculum designed by MUIS and
its emphasis on English, a deal was reached between the Yayasan




Total %















Figure 3.2 Distribution of dominant languages used at home, by level, in percentage. N = 287 students. Source: Students survey, 2005/2006 (Saeda Buang,


Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

Parahyangan Satya (YPS) of Indonesia and Madrasah Al-Irsyad

Al-Islamiah of Singapore to set up a Singapore affiliated madrasah near
Bandung, Indonesia in 2008 (The Straits Times, 17 January 2007). The
new school will adopt the same curriculum designed by its sister school
in Singapore with the hope that its graduates can choose either to further
their studies in the religious field or move on to enroll in the polytechnics
in Singapore or elsewhere(The Straits Times, 17 January 2007). Another
international religious school in Magetan, East Java will be opened by
the same Madrasah Al-Irsyad following its Indonesian partners request.
Other than the balanced curriculum and Singapore madrasahs links
to Al-Azhar University in Cairo and Cambridge University in Britain,
another factor that attracts the Indonesian partners is that English will
be the main medium of instruction, something that many Indonesians
want to be proficient in today (The Straits Times, 26 August 2008).

The solidication of English languages position despite differing

socio-religio-cultural perspectives
Despite MUISs success in some educational sectors in Indonesia, the
decision to adopt English as the main medium of instruction has been
considered a radical shift from the traditional practice of using Arabic
and/or Malay and has created some tensions at various levels. First, the
reorientation of the communitys long-standing perception with regard
to Arabic language as the divinely chosen language of Islam. Theoretically and traditionally, Arabic language has been the medium of instruction for religious subjects in all the present-day full-time madrasahs.
Such deviation from tradition is earth shattering for some Muslims particularly when the premier position of Arabic in the scheme of religion
has been deeply entrenched in the mind of the Muslim community. A
madrasah teacher, Hifni bin Muhd Ali (2000: 81) offers five reasons to
justify the all-out efforts to maintain the supreme position of Arabic
language, particularly in the teaching of religion: (a) Arabic is the language of the Quran, (b) it is the language of Hadith, (c) it is the language
of renowned Islamic classical texts, (d) it is the lingua-franca of the
Muslim ummah and (e) it is an international language.
Second, Malay, which is the mother tongue language, is regarded
as the natural and obvious choice in the teaching and learning of religion, outside Arabic. To replace Malay language with English requires
some reorientation. Such reorientation or mental shift proved challenging because historically and culturally, and as I have discussed earlier,
Malay language has been the medium of instruction in religious teaching in the Archipelago and Singapore since the coming of Islam in the
fourteenth century or earlier via kitab jawi.

Muslim Education and Globalization

Third, to the Islamization of knowledge purists, unless the language

is Islamized or given its literal meaning from the perspective of Islam,
English language may pose a challenge in delivering Islamic concepts
and messages effectively and succinctly primarily because language
is never acultural or apolitical. For instance, the term worldview
must not be delimited to the world of sense and sensible experience
as perceived by the secular Western scientific conception but must be
expanded to cover both al-dunya (temporal world) and al-akhirah (the
hereafter) (Al-Attas, 2005: 11). Heavily loaded with Western values
and cultures usually associated with Christianity and Westernization
English language, therefore, may pose difficulties to convey Islamic
concepts well. This strategy may run counter with the very concept
of Islamization of knowledge that the new syllabus wishes to achieve
unless the methodology of Islamization of language as proposed by
Al-Attas precedes Islamization of knowledge (Al-Attas, 1980).
Fourth, staff redeployment is necessary to replace teachers who are
currently teaching the subjects but not able to communicate effectively
in English, hence, loss of opportunity to teach the subject of his or her
specialization. Worse, it incurs humiliation and sense of loss that affects
the teachers self-worth. Fifth, the teaching effectiveness of teachers in
using English as a medium of instruction requires considerable thought,
and sixth, the acceptance and comprehension level of the students is
another major area of concern which needs immediate attention. Only
3 out of the 6 full-time madrasahs in Singapore are adopting the syllabus partly because of the unsettled issue of the medium of instruction.
The implementation of the new curriculum therefore requires effective
human resource and human strategies to mitigate these tensions. At
any rate, such a major shift in language policy requires an in-depth
investigation due to its huge impact on the educational, psychological,
socio-religious conception and development of learners, teachers and
the community at large.
Other studies confirmed that there is a slight but conspicuous shift
in language use in religious teaching and learning domain in Singapore
(Mohd. Aidil Subhan, 2007; Kamsiah Abdullah and Bibi Jan Ayyub,
2005; Rohan Nizam bin Basheer, 2007/2008). Rohans (2007/08) survey on the use of English in part-time religious classes called Tweens
aLive (for 1214 years old) and Teens aLive (for 1417 years old) held
at three mosques in Singapore, involving 108 respondents; 52 from
Tweens aLive and 56 from Teens aLive programmes also observed
similar phenomenon. In contrast to my survey, all Rohans respondents
are attending national schools where the emphasis on bilingualism
English as first language and Malay as mother tongue is a critical
foundation of national educational policy. Rohans survey shows that

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

63 per cent of the respondents prefer Islamic teaching be delivered in

English, while 36.1 per cent opt for the Malay language. This figure
confirms the language shift phenomenon in the domain of religious
teaching, where Malay language was beginning to loose its traditional
position to English language. When asked for their language of preference should students require further explanation from teachers to
affirm their understanding in religion, 57 per cent respondents prefer
re-explanation to be done in Malay, while 42.6 per cent respondents
prefer English language. Although slightly lower by 14.8 per cent, the
latter groups preference indicates a growing distancing from Malay language as language of translation. However, a remarkable 83.3 per cent
of the respondents prefer to use Malay language when conducting personal supplication (outside the compulsory recital of verses in Arabic),
and 16.7 per cent in English. Such responses indicate the unchallenged
position of mother tongue, in this case Malay language, when one needs
to be within ones personal space and closer to the Divine Power. When
one steps out of the enclosure of personal space and moves into social
spaces, English language is considered more effective medium for more
and varied interlocutors.

The rise of Arabic language

With language shift phenomenon as a backdrop in Singapore, what
is the place of Arabic and Malay language in the madrasah students
learning scheme? In another study on language and identity among the
madrasah students, majority of students consider Arabic as absolutely
important in the transmission of belief in Islam and that Arabic is related
to a religious Islamic identity (Rukhaidah Sahid, 2001: 4041). But in
the realm of learning about Islam, other than Arabic, more respondents consider English to be absolutely essential as compared to Malay.
English is seen as a more universal code that allows more exchanges
of knowledge and ideas between more and varied interlocutors. Obviously, although the encroachment of English language in madrasah
education is pervasive, Arabic language continues to remain essential
in the study of Islam.
In the Malaysian educational experience under the Fundamentals of
National Vision Era 10-Year Plan (20012010), a key initiative, called
j-QAF was introduced by the government in 2005 to ensure that all
Muslim students (attending national or religious schools) are equipped
with communicative skills in Arabic, Jawi, Al-Quran and fard ain
(Pelan Induk Pembangunan Pendidikan 20062010, Ch. 2: 1920).
The resultant outcome of the initiative would be a huge cohort of students and future job market employees who are capable of using Arabic

Muslim Education and Globalization

effectively for religious education, higher studies, socio-cultural interactions or/and future careers.
In Singapore all studies mentioned earlier in this chapter converge on
the idea that English language is encroaching into the realm of religion
and slowly, yet persistently taking over the position of Malay language
as the medium of instruction for Islamic knowledge, and that Arabic
language remains relevant and important in the study of religion.
However, globalization has brought changes to the way people perceive the domains of Arabic language. Audi Yudasmara (1999/2000: 53)
discovers that a growing number of parents 9 are sending their children
for Arabic lessons due to reasons other than religious, such as to gain
knowledge and travel, other than instrumental and integrative-related
orientations such as the desire to belong in the ummah (Muslim global
community). The trend of using Arabic beyond the sphere of religion
and madrasah classrooms and premises is increasingly observable particularly in the domain of the economy. Realizing the importance of
Arabic in the sphere of economic growth, Ministry of Education, Singapore has included Arabic in its third language programme as one of the
options (The Straits Times, 8 March 2007). The option was taken up by
30 students from government-run schools, a majority of whom are nonMalays, in the following year.
A keen interest in the language, outside the realm of religion and in
this case in socio-educational sphere, was also demonstrated in a letter in a local daily (The Straits Times, 24 September 2007). The writer
of the letter went a step further to propose that each university in the
country should set up Middle East studies, inclusive of Arabic, Farsi
and Urdu, as a strategic move to liaise with businesses and schools in
this large part of West Asia and North Africa. Such pleas will no longer
be necessary when the National University of Singapore launches its
Modern Standard Arabic as a foreign language modules for its undergraduates beginning from January 2009.10 Earlier, a plan was drawn
by the Singapore government and the Arab Association in Singapore,
supported by Yemen, to start an Arab cultural heritage centre whose
main function is to teach contemporary Arabic language, and also to
host cultural events and be a hub for research on the Hadhrami diasporas (The Straits Times, 26 May 2007). Separately, an Arabic language
centre will be set up in 2008 by a local organization, Jamiyah, with
help from the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(ISESCO) based in Morocco. The new centre hopes to train aspiring
Arabic language teachers from South-east Asia and to deepen links
with the Middle East (The Straits Times, 26 June 2007). Such a pragmatic, calculated move which is driven by economic returns in relation to the study of Arabic is expected when Singapore, and for that

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

matter the region, has been actively pursuing lucrative billions of US

dollars investment projects and economic partnerships with Abu Dhabi
(The Straits Times, 20 November 2008), Bahrain (The Straits Times,
9 October 2008), and the rest of the Middle East (The Straits Times,
20 June 2005). As aptly suggested by one writer, for the investments
to take off they should be preceded with talking. To skilfully be able
to communicate in Arabic is the key to good understanding and working relationship in businesses (The Straits Times, 20 June 2005). Thus
while the prevailing opinions and most studies see the relevance of
Arabic language in the realm of religious and values-transmission,
the government and a growing sector of general population values the
socio-economic worth of the language.

The development of languages on the basis of their changing functions
and domains of usage characterizes the four significant socio-religiohistorical events and the educational experiences of the Muslims.
Malay language positions itself from strength to strength from the language of religious instruction since the coming of Islam on the shores
of the Malay Archipelago, to a tool for nationalism, social reunification and socio-economic progress in modern Malaysia and Indonesia.
Although the rise of the Malay language has its spill-over effects in
Singapore education in general and the madrasah in particular, mainly
at the onset of the countrys Independence, the language faces a downward turn in the face of globalization that champions English language
as a widely accepted universal language. Although Malay language is
important in preserving and transmitting Malay culture and values, at
least in Singapore, English language looks set to seize the traditional
role of Malay language as medium of instruction for religious education. Globalization cannot be denied as one of the key players to have
de-positioned Malay language that is inching towards the periphery of
Muslim education in Singapore.
In contrast to the fate of Malay language, Arabic is re-emerging
strongly to become another valuable commodity, in the domains of
economy, education and socio-cultural ties. But the rise of one language does not necessarily mean the descending of another, as I have
presented in the parallel developments of both English and Arabic.
Essentially, the growing relevance of Arabic and for that matter English, in non-traditional language domains is the critical factor that leads
to its prominent position. Arabic has outgrown its religious domain.
Such realization has brought the madrasah and Muslim education
to reemphasize their position as the repository of Arabic language by

Muslim Education and Globalization

restructuring their curriculum. Yet, with heightening interests in the

language by many sectors, including secular higher institutions in
Singapore, and by nations for instance, such claim may no longer hold
true in the not so distant future.

1. See Abdullah Zakaria bin Ghazali (1979: 196238). The author has listed
257 titles pertaining to works on the origin and development of Islam in
Malaysia, which includes its neighbouring countries such as Singapore,
Brunei and Indonesia as well.
2. Resident population comprises Singapore citizens and permanent residents. See Singapore residents by age group, ethnic group and sex, end
June 2007, Monthly Digest of Statistics, Singapore, at http://www.singstat.
gov.sg/pubn/reference/mdsaug08.pdf retrieved on 19 July 2008.
3. The Malay Archipelago arbitrarily constitutes the territories of Indonesia; Luzon, Mindanao and Visayan islands of the Philippines;
Singapore; Brunei; Malaysia; East Timor and most of Papua New
Guinea. For more details, please see Britannica Online Encyclopedia
Archipelago%20-%20Britannica%20Online%20Encyclopedia retrieved
on 19 July 2008.
4. Levant, which simply means East or the land of the rising sun, covers the
eastern Mediterranean nations of Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan, Palestinian
territories, Iraq, Cyprus, and parts of Turkey and Egypt.
5. Jamaluddin al-Afghany (18381897), Muhammad Abduh (18491905)
and Rashid Rida (18651935) are among Middle Eastern most inuential
reformist gures whose modernist ideas have impacted the religious and
socio-political views and practices of the local reformers.
6. There were 69 full-time madrasahs recorded up to 1966 in Singapore.
Currently, there are only six surviving full-time madrasahs. See Saeda
Buang, 2009: 392393.
7. The pace-setters for the madrasahs are Malay students in the national
schools studying English, Malay, Science and Mathematics.
8. Instances of the integration are the combination of aqidah, qh and akhlaq
studies; and sirah and hadith studies. Islamic social studies and Quranic
Studies are still taught individually. With the new syllabus, to a certain
extent, curriculum substance and practice of religious education has
diverged from the traditional contents learned and disseminated from the
pre-twentieth century to the early twenty-rst century, while preserving
the core content knowledge traditionally learned in fard ain. Under the
thematic study of the Quran, the following syllabus was offered: Islam,
Quran, Iman (faith), Arkan, Ulum al-Quran (for Primary Five); personal
development, communication with others, development and nurturing of
the Muslim community, the human family, shura or mutual consultation,


Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

and rights and responsibilities of a Muslim towards neighbours, community and country (for Primary Six).
9. No specic gures are given by Audi Yudasmara.
10. The course is conducted by the Centre for Language Studies, National
University of Singapore. Please see http://www.fas.nus.edu.sg/cls/Job/
LECTURER_ARABIC.pdf retrieved on 20 June 2008.

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Language Idealism and Realism

in Globalization: Exploring
Homogeneity Beliefs in Japan
Masakazu Iino

Chapter summary
Globalization of economic, political and cultural activities is further
accelerated by recent emerging economies of two most populous
countries in the World; China and India. The increasing mobility
of human resources and flux of information and commodities
within the Asian region is inevitably affecting various aspects of
behaviours of more people in every day life, including their use of
language. Although it is unquestionable that English is playing a
larger role as a lingua franca in the Asian region than ever before,
not only in the former British colonies but also among other parts
of the region, educational policies and peoples attitudes towards
English in each country/region have been rather ambivalent. In the
Japanese context, where its identity as a leading economic power
in Asia has been shaken in the past decade under its sluggish economy, discussions on English have been embracing both nationalism
and globalism. Idealistic/conservative movements to defend and
purify Japanese language and realistic/progressive movements to
respond to strong demand for English have been simultaneously
propagated in academic and political discourse. This chapter will
examine recent language attitudes of Japanese people by analysing discussions on the policy change regarding the introduction of
English language education in Japanese elementary schools. Such
discussions represent multi-dimensional ideological orientations
on language and culture in globalization.

Globalization of economic, political and cultural activities in the past
few decades has brought about high mobility of people around the
world, the scale and speed of which seem unprecedented in history.
Emerging economies in Asia, in particular, are further accelerating this
movement. The increasing mobility of human resources along with the

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

expansion of information and commodities is inevitably affecting various aspects of peoples behaviours, including the use of language. When
people move, their languages and cultures are not left behind. Japan,
contrary to the long-held homogeneity myth, is not an exception. The
ideology of a single Japanese ethnic group intentionally ignored the
existence of minority groups and their language use in the past (Noguchi
and Fotos, 2001; Weiner, 1997). This chapter will illustrate recent language issues in Japan Japanese language itself, English language education for Japanese people, and migration and language, focusing on a
new policy proposal of the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party, the current
ruling party) committee on migration issues, in order to develop a contemporary picture of the Japanese language environment and discuss
its future direction. These issues are situated within the processes of
globalization, specifically the processes regarding migration leading to
a perception of a threatened nationalism.

Language contact in Japan

Japan had a long and extensive trade history with the Northeast Asian
region, as a result of which the system of law, technology and religion
were brought into Japan. It is said that kanji (the writing system using
Chinese characters) arrived in Japan around 100 BC, and kanji were
used to transcribe the spoken yamato kotoba (words of Japanese origin)
which had no writing system before contact with kanji. In the ninth
century, hiragana was invented from parts of kanji and came to be used
in literature and daily life. The kanji culture was nevertheless dominant in political and official domains. The sakoku (seclusion from the
outside world) policy was introduced in the seventeenth century by
the Tokugawa shogunate which controlled trade for the next 200 years.
The main purpose of sakoku was to repel Catholic propagation brought
by Portuguese missionaries. However, there were some parts of Japan
that were systemically open to the West. For instance, Dejima, an isolated island in Nagasaki, was built in 1635 to keep the door open in a
controlled manner to the West through Dutch merchants.
The JapanUS Treaty of Amity and Commerce (1858), by which
USJapan diplomatic relations officially began, was probably the most
important incident to shape Japan as a modern nation. Japan changed
its isolation policy to open up to the West during the Meiji era (1868
1912), and foreign languages were viewed as a path to the advanced
knowledge of European nations. Foreign language education was thus
motivated largely by pragmatic needs to build a modern nation. In the
1890s, a foreign language education system was formally established
for middle and higher secondary school and English became the main

Exploring Homogeneity Beliefs in Japan

foreign language (Butler and Iino, 2005). After Japans victory in the
JapanSino War (18941895) and the JapanRusso War (19041905),
an emerging nationalism suppressed interest and education in foreign
languages. In the early 1900s, foreign texts and foreign teachers were
gradually replaced by Japanese texts and teachers (Kitao and Kitao,
1995). English was learned as an academic pursuit mainly as a tool of
screening processes for elite education where practical communicative
needs were not perceived as the goal of education.
After World War II, the modern Japanese education system was
established by the US occupation government, in which English was
introduced as a subject in the educational reforms of 1947 and the communicative aspects of English were reinstated. However, as the competition to enter prestigious Japanese universities intensified during the
economic recovery period, English was once again regarded as an academic measurement rather than a tool for communication. The Action
Plan of 2003 (a 5-year plan to cultivate Japanese with English abilities;
MEXT, 2003) was proposed in response to the strong demand by industry to produce more communicatively competent English speakers and
thus to be more competitive in the age of globalization (see Butler and
Iino, 2005).
As briefly outlined above, internationalization for Japan after the
Meiji era was synonymous with Westernization. Although Chinese
civilization had played a far more significant role in building foundations for Japan in the past, the discourse of datsua nyuou (leaving Asia
and entering Europe) became dominant in transforming Japan into a
modern European-style nation in the Meiji period. In fact, the resulting advances in technologies and industrialization have led Japan to
become a major economic player in the world. After Japans defeat in
World War II, the United States of America came to be seen as a model
country for many multinational companies and countries. The introduction of democracy together with the influx of American products
reinforced the Japanese young populations image of the United States
of America as a destination for Japans future. All the cultural products
including food, sports, movies and music that attracted many Japanese
youth and textbooks of English reflected images of middle-class American lifestyle.
However, the trend seems to have changed after the late 1980s when
the exchange rate of the Japanese yen against the US dollar was substantially modified in the Plaza Accord to reflect Japans economic
growth. In the 1990s and 2000s after the end of the Cold War, symbolically marked with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the EU integration
enhanced by the adoption of the Euro in 1999, the US 9/11 disaster in
2001, and the recent emergence of new economies in Asia have all led

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

many Japanese people to view the relative status of the USA as less
dominant. Losing the idealized model and suffering from an economic
downturn together with an ageing population, Japan is now facing a
major challenge the third kaikoku (opening of a nation) after the Meiji
restoration and World War II.

Recent language issues in Japan

There are at least three major language issues actively discussed in
academia and the government: the Japanese language itself, English
education for Japanese people, and language policy for immigrants.
These three policy debates are seemingly unrelated, but in fact share a
common and inter-connected theme, that is, how to implement policies
in response to the fear of erosion of national identity while maintaining
and enhancing Japans competitiveness during the current process of

The Japanese language and nationalism

Standardization and simplification of the Japanese language were the
main goals of Japanese language corpus planning after the Meiji period.
A series of implementations of the national curriculum in education,
modifications of the writing styles to match the spoken style (genbun
ittchi), and reduction in the number of kanji taught in school and used
by the media are the major outcomes of this corpus planning. Some
progressive proposals during the Meiji era include the abolishing of
kanji by Hisoka Maejima (kanji haishi no gi, a proposal to stop using
kanji, 1866), the control of the number of kanji to be used by Yukichi
Fukuzawa, and even the replacement of Japanese with English by
Arinori Mori (cf. Coulmas, 2002; Iino et al., 2003). In particular, discussions on what to do with kanji (kokugo kokuji mondai) were the
core topic in the history of kokugo shingikai (the Council for Japanese
language, dissolved in 2000 to become a sub-committee of the Agency
for Cultural Affairs) where the hyo-on ha (pro-phonogram) and hyo-i
ha (pro-ideogram) were ideologically polarized between realism/
pragmatism and idealism/traditionalism. Yasuda (2007) used the notions
of genjitsu-ha (realism/pragmatism) and rekishi-ha (pro-history/
traditionalism) for this ideological dichotomy. After World War II,
despite the proposal of the GHQ (General Headquarters) to stop using
kanji entirely, the Council announced the list of toyo-kanji (1,850
kanji) to be used for the time being. Toyo-kanji, using simplified fonts
recommended by an ophthalmologist to reduce shortsightedness among
people (Nomura, 2006: 30), was considered a transitional step to further

Exploring Homogeneity Beliefs in Japan

reduce the number of kanji in the near future for the sake of building a
democratic nation through mass education. In 1965, Morito, the chair
of the Council, made an announcement that the council would continue discussions based on the assumption that Japanese language is
written with a mixture of kanji and kana (phonogram used in Japanese,
i.e., hiragana and katakana) and would not consider abolishing kanji
(Nomura, 2006). Since then, the movement to eliminate or reduce kanji
gradually faded out. In 1981, the new joyo-kanji list (commonly used
1,945 kanji, about 96 per cent of daily-use kanji, Nomura, 2006: 266)
was introduced as a guideline for use in public domains.
Later, the so-called IT revolution, at its early stage in the 1980s, was
expected to eventually eliminate the use of kanji because keyboard
input devices for computers were not adequate for non-phonological and non-alphabetical writing systems (Unger, 1987). Contrary to
Ungers projection, computers have made advances to allow easy conversion from roman-alphabetically typed Japanese sounds into kanji.
The unintended consequence was that people started using more complicated kanji which could not be easily written by hand. The computer can now display 11,223 kanji according to JIS (Japanese Industrial
Standards). In 2000, the 1,044 hyogai-kanji list (kanji beyond the joyokanji list) was announced by the Council to reflect the demand from
the media which claimed that these hyogai-kanji are easily produced
by computers and more easily recognized by the readers. In 2004, the
number of jinmeiyo-kanji (kanji to be used for names in koseki, family
registers, controlled by the Ministry of Justice) was increased from 285
to 983. Currently, in 2008, the Council is discussing creating a new list
of joyo-kanji, possibly adding more kanji for recognition only, the conclusion of which will be announced in 2009 for public comment. The
current trend seems to be that the Japanese language is adding more
kanji to be used in official and public domains in order to authentically
reflect the original kanji of proper names, resulting in an expansion of
once-controlled kanji. Kanji kentei (examination for kanji certificate),
Nintendo games to learn kanji, and books on kanji are now attracting
more and more people in Japan.
Along with what I call the kanji boom, the utsukushii nihongo
(beautiful Japanese language) movement represents another recent
purification/idealization trend in Japanese corpus planning. This trend
coincides with the beautiful Japan movement proposed by former
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (20062007) who succeeded Junichiro
Koizumi (20012006), both known as nationalists. Komori (2002)
observes that sales of books on Japanese, in particular, guides to correct
usage, tend to increase during economic recession because people seek
for a substitute for pride as well as nostalgia (cited in Gottlieb, 2005:

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

93). The Council members, including scholars of classical Japanese literature, artists such as poets, traditional theatre performers and writers,
have been discussing reintroduction of classical language arts in the
national curriculum from the elementary school level. From 2003 to
2006, the National Institute for Japanese Language also proposed that
words of foreign origin borrowed into Japanese written in katakana
should be translated into newly fabricated kanji-based Japanese words
(e.g., infoomudo konsento (informed consent) became nattoku shinryo, which literally means medical treatment upon agreement). One
of the rationales for this move in corpus planning was to avoid misunderstanding across generations, as elderly Japanese people tend to
use less katakana words as compared with the younger generation.
Creating new Japanese words relying on kanji, while controlling the
influx of foreign words (Kaiser, 2003) and corresponding new concepts
represented by katakana, is based on the assumption that language
use can be, and should be, controlled by the government rather than
being propagated freely among the civilians. The normative concept
of utsukushii nihongo undermines sociolinguistic values of vernacular
Japanese, regional dialects and the creative vitality of language itself by
labelling them midare (Gottlieb, 2005; Jorden, 1991) or ozomashiki
nihongo (deviant and fearful Japanese). Such purist corpus planning
contradicts the real picture of the linguistic landscape in Japan, and
reinforces the inferior status of deviant language use as well as the
speakers of it.

English language education for Japanese people

In 2007, after long and heated debates, the MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) finalized a policy to
introduce English education in elementary schools starting in 2011
(cf. Butler, 2007 for details). English has been taught to fulfil the compulsory foreign language requirement which begins in the first year of
junior high school (although the national curriculum does not specify
a particular foreign language for the requirement, English is taught
in almost all schools in Japan). The proposal was largely initiated by
industry, with the support of an overwhelming majority of parents to
produce a more globally competitive work force and better employment
opportunities in the future. Ninety-two per cent of parents support the
English activity in elementary school, according to the MEXT survey in
2004 (cited in Torikai, 2006). Butler (2007) summarized some driving
forces: (1) the power of English in the global economy; (2) the generally
positive attitude towards the English language among most Japanese;
(3) a prevailing sense of dissatisfaction with existing English language

Exploring Homogeneity Beliefs in Japan

education; (4) the role of English as a measure of ones academic abilities within the Japanese educational system; (5) the role of English
as a political tool to attract votes for some local government officials;
(6) the role of English as an attractive selling point for certain schools
under the school choice system in selected areas; (7) the (unwarranted)
perception of English as a potential solution for communication-related
behavioural problems; and (8) growing concerns about ensuring equal
access to EES (English at elementary schools) in different regions and
among different socio-economic groups.
On the other hand, opposing opinions regarding the effectiveness
of EES include ideological, cognitive and pragmatic reasons such as
positioning of English in the context of the multilingual and multicultural ideology of Japan, the cognitive importance of the native language
(Japanese) foundation, and readiness of teachers and teaching materials. In addition, a new type of cultural nationalism, as also seen in the
debate over the idea of officializing English as Japans second language
around 2000 (Funabashi, 2000; Iino, 2000; Iino, 2002), fostered a belief
that expanding larger domains of English use in Japanese society would
result in chasing out pure language and culture in the form of linguistic
and sociolinguistic alteration (cf. Inoue, 2001).
Despite the fact that the introduction of EES has been debated for
almost two decades and the outcome has been so limited in scale, in
tertiary education, some universities have inaugurated programs where
English is the medium of instruction for both Japanese students and
international students during the early 2000s. For example, while
Jochi University (Sofia University) and ICU (International Christian
University) in Tokyo used to be among the few universities in Japan
which have carried out English medium programs in the past, in 2000
Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, in 2004 the School of International
Liberal Studies of Waseda University (cf. Gourd and Iino, 2006) and Akita
International University were established where almost all the subjects are
conducted in English. GP (Good Practice government funding to educate
Japanese people to use English in work) funding was awarded to these
new programs. After completing the goal of accepting 100,000 foreign
students in 2003 (the goal was set in 1983 under the Nakasone administration), Japan is now undertaking a new goal. The former Fukuda administration proposed to increase the number of foreign students to 300,000
in the next 5 years and the LDP is discussing further increase to reach
1 million by 2025. Waseda University, for example, is planning to increase
international students up to 8,000, about 20 per cent of its enrolments, in
5 years. Thus implementations of new language policies at private institutions are moving at a much higher speed than the national curriculum for
elementary and secondary education.

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

Although it is unquestionable that English is playing a larger role

as a lingua franca in the Asian region than ever before, not only in the
former British colonies but also among other parts of the region, educational policies and peoples attitudes towards English in each country/
region have been rather ambivalent. In the Japanese context, where its
identity as a leading economic power in Asia has been shaken in the
past decade under its sluggish economy, discussions on English show
a tension between nationalism and globalism as described above. Idealistic and conservative movements to defend and purify the Japanese
language as well as realistic and progressive movements to respond to
the strong demand for English have been simultaneously propagated in
academic and political discourse.

Migration and language

a. Outbound migration Japanese nationals residing outside Japan
One of the processes of globalization is peoples mobility across increasingly porous national borders. As the number of Japanese people residing
outside Japan has been continuously increasing, the numbers of their
children who are at the compulsory education level (students of elementary and junior-high schools) are also increasing as shown in Figure 4.1.
Overseas Residents,





Number of Children in
Compulsory Ed. Age,











Figure 4.1 Japanese overseas residents and their children (compulsory education level). Source: MEXT (2006)


Exploring Homogeneity Beliefs in Japan

Asia, 21954
N. America, 20218



Europe, 11231

Pacific, 2394
C&S America, 1225
Middle East, 713
Africa, 569










Figure 4.2 Japanese children residing outside Japan (compulsory educational

level) by region. Source: MEXT (2006)

As seen in Figure 4.2, the number of Japanese children abroad at the

compulsory education level is rapidly increasing in the Asian region,
surpassing a comparable figure in the United States of America in 2005,
while the numbers residing in other areas are fairly stable. This movement is largely due to the increase of direct investment by Japanese
industries in the Asian regions, particularly in China. The Japanese
school in Shanghai marked the largest number of students in the world
in 2006, followed by Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong (MEXT, 2006).
Based on the number of children studying and residing outside
Japan, it is clear that kikokusei (returnees) will keep increasing in Japanese higher education and society at large. Those Japanese people who
have gone through non-traditional education outside Japan, in addition
to those who study abroad on a short-term basis, are expected to have a
substantial influence on Japanese society, including linguistic matters
(cf. Kanno, 2003).
b. Inbound migration foreign nationals residing in Japan
Japan, where homogeneity has been mythically claimed to be thehallmark of its culture in the past, is not an isolated exception in

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

the wave of globalization. It is now becoming a new destination for

an increasing number of people. The number of foreign nationals
entering Japan has significantly increased in the past few decades:
1 million in 1978, 2 million in 1984, 3 million in 1990, 4 million in 1996,
5 million in 2000, and 8 million in 2006. The recent increase is largely
due to the Visit Japan campaign by the government, promoting tourism with visa exemption for visitors from neighbouring countries in
the midst of the economic boom in Asia. More than 90 per cent of
foreign nationals staying in Japan are temporary visitors (Ministry of
Justice, 2007). The visitors are increasingly visible in large cities and
tourist destinations.
While the number of entries shows the flow of foreign nationals,
the number of registered foreign nationals indicates the stock those
who live a settled life in Japan for education, employment or marriage. As seen in Figure 4.3, the number of registered foreign nationals
Changes in the number of registered foreign nationals and its
percentage of the total population in Japan




Registered foreign nationals
Percentage of the total





1.18 1.20














0.68 0.67 0.67














0 641,482

1995 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 (Year)

(*1) "Number of registered nationals" as of December 31 each year.

(*2) The "Percentage of the total population in Japan" is calculated based on the population as of October 1 every
year from "Current Population Estimates as of October 1, 2004" and "Summary Sheets in the Population Census"
by the statistics Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

Figure 4.3 Changes in the number of registered foreign nationals and its percentage of the total population in Japan. Source: Ministry of Justice (2007)


Exploring Homogeneity Beliefs in Japan

has been increasing, hitting a new record high of 2 million in 2006,

which is an increase of 47 per cent from 1996. It should be noted
that the proportion of registered foreign nationals to the total
Japanese population has also been increasing, reaching a record high of
1.63 per cent in 2006 (based on the current population estimates as of
1 October 2006 by the Statistics Bureau of the Ministry of Internal
Affairs and Communications) as shown in Figure 4.3. The percentage
is significantly higher in larger cities (e.g., 9.9 per cent of residents
are non-Japanese nationals in the Shinjuku ward of Tokyo in 2007,
Shinjuku-ku, 2007), and marriages between Japanese nationals and
non-Japanese nationals are also increasing (6.1 per cent in 2006,
Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, 2008; Kokusai Bunka Shinkou
Kyokai, 2008).
As seen in Figure 4.4 the number of registered foreign nationals by
nationality (place of origin) as of the end of 2006, Koreans represented

Changes in the number of registered foreign nationals by major

nationality (place of origin)

























































Figure 4.4 Changes in the number of registered foreign nationals by major nationality (place of origin). Source: Ministry of Justice (2007)


Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

the largest proportion followed by Chinese, Brazilian, Filipinos and

Peruvians. The number of Koreans with the status of Special Permanent Resident (Zainichi Koreans) has been decreasing and is expected
to decrease because almost 80 per cent of them marry Japanese citizens,
hence their children will be granted Japanese nationality on birth
(Lee, 2008).
As the number of registered foreign nationals is increasing, the
number of children who require education in Japanese as a second
language is also increasing. As of 1 September 2006, the total number of
such students was 22,413 (elementary school level 15,946; junior-high
school level 5,246; high school level 1,128; and special education for
the hearing and speaking impaired 72). Out of the total 22,413 students,
those with Portuguese background are the largest group (8,633), followed by those with Chinese (4,471) and Spanish (3,279) backgrounds.
It should be noted that these children are widely spread across school
districts and a high concentration in any particular school is rarely
seen. The so-called newcomers largely comprise Japanese-Brazilian,
Chinese, Filipino and Peruvian immigrants, and their language backgrounds are different from old comers (i.e., mainly Chinese and Korean).
In sum, it is becoming more and more unrealistic to maintain an ideology based on inbreeding for Japanese society, genealogically, socially
or linguistically.
Meanwhile, the entry of nurses and health care workers from Southeast Asia is now beginning. It is critically important to give them full
support for Japanese language study, and the certificate examination
that they have to take after 3 years in Japan should be adjusted with
respect to their language needs. Otherwise, Japan will lose valuable
human resources from outside simply because of the language issue.
Japanese language is not a property monopolized by Japanese nationals, and the Japanese language itself needs to be internationalized
(Tanaka, 1989; Kato, 2004).
c. LDP Nakagawa plan
The LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) has begun discussing a new proposal to increase the number of immigrants to Japan, possibly up
to 10 million in the next 50 years, which is projected to represent
10 per cent of the Japanese population (the current number of residents with non-Japanese passports in Japan is about 2 million). Japan
is experiencing an ageing population and a lower birth rate which will
lead to a significant decrease in the projected population a decrease
of one-third in the next 50 years. The proposal (LDP, 2008) in discussion, which was compiled by Jiyuu minshutou gaikoku jinzai kouryuu

Exploring Homogeneity Beliefs in Japan

suishin giin renmei (federation of parliament members for promoting

exchange of foreign work force, LDP) comprised of about 80 lawmakers led by former LDP Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa, recognizes the need to accept immigrants and to make Japan a multi-ethnic
society. The focus of the proposal is to emphasize the importance of
the education rendered to the immigrants to increase their skills and to
help them settle into the Japanese community as naturalized Japanese
citizens. Japanese people are also expected to raise their awareness
and respect for the minority cultures that are joining them. The types
of immigrants that the LDP is considering are highly skilled workers
with university degrees, skilled labourers trained in Japan, students,
immigrants family members, immigrants seeking humanitarian consideration and investors.
The core of the proposal is to increase the number of students from
abroad. Students include not only university-level students but also
those to study in vocational schools for agriculture, manufacturing,
fishery and other specialized training schools. In order to accomplish
this goal, 300,000 international students will be accepted in the near
future, the number of which will be increased to one million by 2025.
By providing them with resident visas, 70 per cent of the graduates are
expected to stay in Japan.
There are two important items mentioned in the proposal; one is to
introduce jus soli = right of soil (citizenship is granted based on the
physical birthplace of a person), and the other is to establish the social
integration law. So far, Japan has adopted the jus sanguinis = right of
blood (citizenship is granted based on the persons parent(s) nationality) principle, which has functioned to reinforce the ideology of blood
purism of being Japanese. The uncontaminated blood stream from
Japanese senzo (ancestors), particularly from the paternal line, is one
of the core ideologies that Japanese people strongly cling to in the formation of their identity, as symbolically represented in the Imperial
Family line. In fact, it was not until 1985 that the law was revised to
modify the paternal line policy, thus granting the maternal line equal
importance in becoming Japanese. In other words, after 1985, either the
father or mother could be Japanese for their children to become Japanese. In this regard, the possible change of the nationality law in the
proposal is critically important to deconstruct the homogeneity belief
shared among many Japanese people. Demystifying the core ideology is
expected to dramatically change the peoples attitudes towards how to
deal with language and culture.
The proposal places Japanese language education for immigrants in
an important role to enable them to actively and fully participate in
Japanese communities and work places so that they can advance to

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

better socio-economic positions. To improve their situation, Japanese

language education is highly prioritized. Speaking Japanese is also
regarded as a positive sign of willingness to join the society. Native
language support will be provided by trained social workers from various language backgrounds. In addition, education for Japanese people
to coexist with immigrants will be incorporated in the national curriculum. Careful attention should be paid to the educational issues that
newcomers, particularly from South America, are facing. Although
native language support is suggested by some scholars (e.g., Nakajima,
1998), NGOs and volunteers, their activities are not necessarily implemented as effectively as expected (Sugino, 2008).
The immediate reactions to the proposal were mixed (about 70 per cent
in favour of the proposal, Nikkei Business, 7 July 2008). While it was
positively reported by the Korean media as epoch-making (kakkiteki)
(Chosun Online, 2008), concerns were expressed by a large number of
Japanese people regarding the danger of contamination of Japanese linguistic
and cultural purity, an increase in crime, and the negative economic outcome
for Japanese citizens losing their competitiveness against low-wage labourers
supplied by the newcomers, according to Sakanaka (2008), Director of Japan
Immigration Policy Institute (cf. Japan Times, 2008).
Japan is, in fact, changing. Coulmas (2002: 221) comments that during the past decades Japanese society has become more open and more
accommodating to outsiders. The proposal, as a vital sign of such
change, is most likely to go through a turbulent process of gaining support in a series of committee debates in the LDP and the Parliament. It
is too early to predict the outcome, but the proposal nevertheless will
show us the underlying issues that Japan needs to address regarding
how to deal with migration and the languages that immigrants bring
into Japan.

Japan is now experiencing a major transition, as it did in the Meiji restoration and post-World War II, which is often called the third opening
of the nation (kaikoku). In the first wave of kaikoku during the Meiji
era, the import of Western technologies was the first priority, resulting
in an emphasis on European languages such as English, German and
French in elite education. In the second wave, the purpose of kaikoku
was to export Japanese products to the world to establish its economic
power, with strong emphasis on English as a lingua franca for international trade. English has become the lingua franca in Asia, not only in
the former British colonies, but also in north Asia. In a more extreme
view, English and local languages in Asia are seen as a case of diglossia

Exploring Homogeneity Beliefs in Japan

(Fishman, 1972, 1980) in the language environment of many multinational companies; English being the high variety, while local languages
are the low variety. If the current transition is defined as the third wave
of kaikoku, it is important to examine what the goal is and what language policy should be implemented to deal with such a worldwide
social diglossia (Wright, 2004: 14).
First, the ideological conflict regarding the spread of English and
multilingualism must be critically revisited (cf. Fairclough, 2006).
These sociolinguistic phenomena correspond to two-language policy
options the diffusion-of-English paradigm and the ecology-of-language paradigm in the globalizing world (Tsuda, 1994; Phillipson and
Skutnabb-Kangas, 1996). While the former looks at English as a driving
force for globalization, closely associated with capitalism, economic
neo-liberalism, modern science and technology, the latter puts more
emphasis on the human rights perspectives and promotes the maintenance of local languages and cultures. Since Japanese is a vital and
major language, JapaneseEnglish bilingualism is assumed to be the
solution for communication problems associated with globalization.
However, what appears salient from the statistics shown in the previous section is its deeper integration with the Asian region, involving
large-scale diasporas (Appadurai, 1996: 154), both the outbound and
inbound flow of people. Although English is playing an important role
as a lingua franca in Asia, it is also important for Japanese people to be
more exposed to Asian languages in educational settings.
The role of language education to cultivate globalized citizenry is
yet to be discussed. With regard to this point, Malaysian former Prime
Minister Mahathir Mohamad once said:
Learning the English language will reinforce the spirit of nationalism when it is used to bring about development and progress for
the country . . . True nationalism means doing everything possible for the country, even if it means learning the English language.
(Mahathir Mohamad, The Sun, 11 September 1999; cited in Gill,
We believe that a nationalist is someone who has acquired all the
knowledge and mastered all the skills and is capable of contesting
against the rest of the world. But they (some Malaysians) think that
just being able to speak Malay makes you a nationalist, and that is
wrong. (Mahathir Mohamad, New Straits Times, 29 December 2000;
cited in Gill, 2002)

Based on Mahathirs pragmatic views of English as an instrumental language, Malaysia implemented a new language policy in 2003
to introduce English as a medium of instruction for maths and the

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

sciences at all levels (cf. Gill, 2006; Tay, 2007; Iino, 2008). Mahathirs
pragmatic ideas correspond to the ideology of wakon yosai (Japanese
spirit, Western style) held by Japanese during the Meiji era when the
nation-building effort was the highest priority. The English boom seen
in China, Korea and Taiwan in recent years appears to be in the same
vein of the language-as-instrument view represented by Mahathir.
In other words, such pragmatic views see language as commodity,
displaced from its historical situations, a tool to be developed for particular national interests (Ricento, 2005). After the so-called lost decade (Hashimoto, 2007) of Japanese economic depression, a series of
political and governmental scandals, and the declining safety myth
in the 1990s and early 2000s, Lebra (2004) pointed out that many
Japanese are in a depressive mood, feeling that their country is collapsing (cited in Hashimoto, 2007). History tells us that such social
anxiety can be exploited leading to harmful nationalism by boosting
peoples egos, and that most nationalist movements in the world view
the language of their group as a key marker establishing the groups
boundaries (Arel, 2002: 92). Many people in the industry are well
aware of the economic and political crisis that Japan is facing and they
are calling for a more pragmatic solution as seen in the Action Plan
2003 (cf. Butler and Iino, 2005) or the recent migration proposal by the
LDPs committee. Inward-looking nationalism, giving the essentialist
linguistic and cultural norms paramount status and resisting the reality of pluralism, is not only unproductive but also dangerous for the
Second, the Japanese language itself needs to be revisited by Japanese people. Japanese has been taught for the use of Japanese people
themselves. The concept of Kokugo (national language) as a school
subject includes not only the Japanese language but also teaching of
Japanese history, morality and arts as necessary literacy to become a
genuine Japanese person. Kokugo includes kanbun (classical Chinese
poems and literature, as read in a classical Japanese style), kobun (classical Japanese literature), and shigin and shiika (classical poetry) which
are reminiscent of the high variety of the diglossic (Ferguson, 1959)
Japanese language. Belief in the superiority of the elite variety is even
viewed as a conspiracy of the elite establishment to maintain power
(Spolsky, 2004: 27). The dualism of kokugo and nihongo is reinforcing
the ideology of the uniqueness of Japanese language and culture shared
among Japanese people.
Japanese language constantly requires maintenance to be userfriendly and to be functionally efficient to meet the changing language
environment. Japanese as a second language or Japanese as a foreign
language for non-native speakers should receive more focus and be

Exploring Homogeneity Beliefs in Japan

systematically managed and supported, as Japanese is expected to

function as an empowering drive for foreign nationals joining Japanese society. Hybridization (Bhabha, 1994) of languages and cultures
is a product of new encounters of people with different backgrounds.
Native speakers need to be more tolerant towards deviant language
use by non-native speakers in order to accommodate the social integration of newcomers. The concept of purism is strongly associated
with Shinto beliefs in Japan. Ancient myths that the Japanese imperial
line traces back to gods who descended from heaven were strategically
used as a political device to unify previously strong regional identities (Noguchi, 2001: 6) for 80 years until the end of World War II. The
ideology of a single ethnic group which shares a common ancestry was
implemented not only to create a feeling of consanguinity, but also to
argue the superiority of the Japanese people and culture (ibid.). Linguistic purism assumes that language and culture are a spiritually inherited tradition rather than the product of social interactions (Iino, 2000:
85). Purism of language and culture, under the name of beautification,
could potentially hinder the creative aspects of positive and enriching
creolization processes. Purism is simply a belief system (Schiffman,
1996: 62). Global hybridity of language and culture is claiming that
cultures are never pure (Tomlinson, 1999; cited in Fairclough, 2006:
24), or simply what Appadurai (1996: 77) calls imagined nostalgia,
nostalgia for things that never were. Too much emphasis on artistic and
aesthetic aspects of language can create an unnecessary divide among
language users. In the wake of globalization, no language and culture is
immune to the contamination of others. Changing identities through
creolization is inevitable and deserves positive evaluation. The traditional type of nihonjinron, a discourse that celebrates the uniqueness
of Japanese culture and people, needs serious updates in this context
(cf. Yoshino, 1992; Iino, 1996; Noguchi and Fotos, 2001; Kubota, 2002;
Sugimoto, 2003).

Facing globalization external and internal to Japan, Japan is now struggling to find its own way to cope with language issues. Systematic and
strategic language policy for Japan is yet to be discussed. Any language
policy and planning should be realistic to serve and benefit users of
languages, not turning users into servants of the language. Language
has so much to contribute to creating a new direction of social integration of others in Japanese society, calling for a departure from the
idealism of moulded traditional norms to a more organic integration

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

of diversities, even from within Japanese cultures. The LDP proposal,

whether it be passed or rejected in the political arena, will provide
us with opportunities to raise peoples awareness about multilingual
and multicultural issues over which Japan cannot afford to hesitate in
the globalization era. Globalization and nationalism are not mutually
exclusive. Simple dichotomization is theoretically misleading and covers up a deep-rooted mentality of xenophobia. Language, an empowering pragmatic instrument as well as a symbolic identity marker, in this
regard, plays an important role in shedding new light on the concept of
coexistence and pluralism in Japanese society.

Appadurai, Arjun (1996), Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press.
Arel, D. (2002), Language categories in census: backward-or forwardlooking?, in D. I. Kertzer and. D. Arel (eds), Census and Identity: The
Politics of Race, Ethnicity, and Language in National Censuses.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bhabha, H. K. (1994), The Location of Culture. New York: Routledge.
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Linguistic Capital, Study

Mothers and the Transnational
Family in Singapore
Phyllis Ghim-Lian Chew

Chapter summary
This study has as its subjects, Korean and Chinese (PRC) study
mothers in the Republic of Singapore, known in their respective
countries as wild goose mothers (kirogi omma) and study mothers (pei du mama). What is the nature of linguistic migration who,
what is involved and how and to what extent is the English language involved in this? What are the sociolinguistic circumstances
behind the buying and selling of linguistic capital? This chapter
explores answers to these questions on the basis of interviews with
15 Korean and Chinese mothers who are in Singapore for the education of their children. Following Bourdieus (2001) metaphors,
this chapter is segmented into The sellers: strategies, The buyers: linguistic motivations and The costs and rewards of linguistic migration. The specific aspect of globalization that this chapter
addresses is the transnational family. The split-household transnational family, is a novel family type that has emerged as a result of
the rise of English in the globalized economy. As globalizing forces
become even more acute, enfranchised mothers will begin increasingly to vote with their feet and in so doing spawn multifarious
and novel sociolinguistic practices within the realm of the family.

While technological inventions and new communications media such
as the smart phone and the internet contribute to the death of distance
and bring people together in a global village,1 one significant fact
emerges and that is, as the world shrinks, people are thrown together
more and more, necessitating the need for a lingua franca. Globalization
is intricately intertwined with the emergence of international auxiliary
languages such as English, Mandarin and Arabic. Foremost amongst
these emergent global languages is English for while it is a familiar
phenomenon for one language to serve as lingua franca over a large

Linguistic Capital in Singapore

area of many languages, for example, Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Arabic and
French, what is unusual, however, is that never before has a single language spread for such purposes over most of the world as English has
done in this century. According to a British Council Report, 3 billion
people, or just under half of the worlds population, will be able to
speak English in 2015 (quoted in the Straits Times, 10 March 2004).2
The widespread use of English has also resulted in its increased
commodification, as is evident in the vast numbers of people who leave
their country temporarily or for good for the primary reason of mastering
it. For Bourdieu (2001), capital takes three principal forms: economic
capital which creates and maintains wealth and which is immediately
convertible to money and property; cultural capital such as educational
qualifications, which entails accumulated knowledge and skills which
are potentially convertible into economic capital; last but not the least,
social capital which is made up of group membership, social obligations or group connections, also potentially convertible into economic
capital. In this study, language may be regarded as linguistic capital
which possesses value and is a means by which people (and nations)
may achieve varied goals relating to research, finance, manufacturing
and public relations. The language with the highest currency today may
be said to be English since it is not only intimately linked to modernity,
technology, economic and scientific know-how but also manifested
in the service, fashion, advertising and entertainment industries. Like
styles of dress, dance, sports and music, English is part of the upmarket
design and the brand associated with niche marketing and customer
service (Wee, 2006).
While linguistic capital is a much desired commodity, unfortunately
for most, it is not usually available in the aspirants own country and
has to be sought across the seas hence I put forward the concept of
linguistic migration, an increasingly common phenomenon in a globalized world. Before, the pursuit of capital was directly linked to business and commerce; today however, capital is acquired more indirectly,
usually through the prior possession of a premium language, which is
then exchanged for economic capital. In the global context, migration
is also both quantitatively and qualitatively historically different from
what it was before. Quantitatively, there is much more migration today
as evidenced in the well-targeted remittances, investments by migrants,
the diasporas of refugees and the emergence of transnational communities globally (Levitt and Nyberg-Sorenson, 2004). Qualitatively, the
numbers of transmigrants, that is, people who stay or work in a country
temporarily, outnumber significantly the number of migrants (Yamanka,
2005). These transmigrants frequently cross national boundaries to
work and build their lives in several places beyond their country of

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

origin. They claim multiple political and religious identities, just as

they claim national and transnational identities. They work, play, and
express their political interests in several contexts rather than in a
single nation-state. This contrasts sharply to past scenarios where the
immigrant leaves the country of origin to reside permanently in the
country of arrival.
Another qualitative difference is the feminization of migration as seen
in transnationals working as maids, nurses, entertainers, and of particular interest in our study, as study mothers. Yeoh and Devashayam
(2008) show that a greater proportion of migration streams are made
up of women and that the amount of autonomous movement in which
they have been the key decision makers is increasing exponentially.
The Philippines, for example, is a country where given the lack of
opportunities at home, the notion of the ideal wife/mother is conflated
with that as a good manager and provider through the provision of an
income to supplement her husbands earnings (ibid.). In contrast, in the
past, the migration of indentured labourer, to colonial administrators
and empire builders were usually male. While many women leave the
country of origin to escape poverty, war and famine, others leave it to
pursue wealth.
My study will focus on one group of transnational migrants, study
mothers, who accompany their children while they are studying in a
foreign country and whose main aim is the pursuit of linguistic capital, hitherto unavailable in their home countries. Once their linguistic
goals are attained, they may return to their home countries or journey
onwards to other parts of the globalized world trading their capital in
their flexible sojourns.

Review of literature
Despite increasingly vast numbers of linguistic migrants, only a handful
of studies have examined this recent phenomenon.3 Published materials on linguistic migration are mainly centred on marketing strategies,
catering to the profit-driven global education industry (cf. Collins, 2008).
There have been some notable studies on astronaut husbands (professional parents who sought to relocate their families in safe havens
such as Canada and the United States) and satellite kids (children who
remain in the host country even when their parents have returned to
country of origin) as a means of attaining economic and social capital
for the family by Waters (2003, 2005), Salaff et al. (2007) and Matthews
and Sidhu (2005). However, these studies are on economic migration
rather than linguistic migration per se; and are more concentrated on
the geographical aspect of spatial dislocation and on the cosmopolitan

Linguistic Capital in Singapore

identities emerging through the desire for international education.

Closer to our research interests, Chee (2003) and Yeoh et al. (2005: 311)
have researched transnational families, whom they term sacrificial
mothers hoping to accomplish projects to enhance family well-being.
However, their main focus is on the changing sociological role of mothering rather than on the linguistic experience. Hence, a vacuum exists
with regard to the issues of linguistic capital, linguistic mothering
and linguistic migration and this study is a preliminary attempt to
address this knowledge gap.
This chapter focuses on the pursuit of linguistic capital by study
mothers within the larger backdrop of a study of language, globalization and culture. Linguistic migration is a migration necessitated primarily in search of a linguistic capital, relating usually to premium
languages such as English, which is readily exchangeable in the marketplace for other kinds of capital. Such linguistic pursuits are seldom
impulsive or random actions. On the contrary, they are well-planned
and carefully calculated projects. This study has as its subjects, Korean
and Chinese (PRC) mothers in the Republic of Singapore, known in
their respective countries as wild goose mothers (kirogi omma) and
study mothers (pei du mama). It aims to uncover the conditions existing prior to such linguistic migration in the sense that these conditions constituted a problem that migration was meant to solve. What
is the nature of the linguistic migration who are the players? How
and to what extent is the English language involved in this? What are
the sociolinguistic circumstances behind the buying and selling of linguistic capital? Following Bourdieus (2001) concepts, this chapter is
segmented into The sellers: strategies, The buyers: linguistic motivations and The costs and rewards of linguistic migration.

I drew on four focus group discussions (hereafter, Groups 1 to 4) conducted at the end of 2007 of 8 Korean and 7 Chinese mothers aged
between 28 and 46 with their average age being 38. Between them, they
had 21 children in Singapore from ages 8 to 16. I asked the 15 mothers
to narrate, discuss and reflect on their own migratory and childrearing
experiences. These stories, which were told in Korean and Mandarin
respectively, were tape recorded, translated, transcribed and analysed
using thematic and narrative analysis. There were four separate groups.
While members of each group knew one another, each individual group
did not know the other groups. Hence, 4 focus group discussions on
four different occasions each lasting an average of 2 to 3 hours were
conducted. Total recording time was slightly over 11 hours. Each of the

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

group discussions took place after dinner. This methodology enabled

participants to be relaxed in each others company and they were, indeed,
I perceived, comfortable to discuss issues relating to their personal conditions with an outsider (that is, myself), in an atmosphere that at times
became personal, reflective and sometimes emotional/excitable.
Through the assistance of a Singaporean friend from a religious/
charitable organization who had been nurturing for several years close
friendships with study mothers as part of her groups outreach programme, I was able to befriend some of these mothers as a matter of
course. This friend suggested 4 separate dinner-cum-social events
whereby the 4 groups could be invited, a continuation of what she had
already been doing in the previous years. Hence, the mothers in my
research were informed that on some of these occasions, the hosts university friend would join the group as part of a research project. My
friend assured them that their privacy would be respected, identities
undisclosed and that the discussion would be linguistic in nature.
Relative to the Korean mothers, the Chinese were heterogeneous in
social-economic backgrounds. The Koreans belonged to the educated
middle class in Seoul and Busan and had absentee husbands who were
generally well-paid professionals (cf. Leow, 2006). They could therefore
afford to stay at home looking after their children on a full-time basis.
They lived in rented condominiums. Three out of the eight Korean
mothers could also financially afford placing their children in international schools. They indicated an intention to stay in Singapore for at
least 2 to 3 years before taking stock of their situation again. Attending
the Korean-speaking church was their chief pastime. They also tended
to congregate together as seen by their preference to send their children
to similar government schools in Singapore.
On the other hand, the seven Chinese mothers come from various
provincial cities in China and were of different dialectal backgrounds
and therefore spoke Mandarin with varying accents. Their children
were in unrelated government schools and it was not important for
them to congregate in the same schools or vicinity. All the Chinese
mothers had graduated from tertiary institutions with an annual average income of 90,000 yuan.4 However, due to the higher cost of living
in Singapore, most were living just above the poverty line in Singapore.
All except one were living in government flats where they had rented a
single room. Three out of seven were divorced making them effectively
single mothers. Unlike the Koreans who had an average of two children,
the Chinese mothers had only one child. The monthly remittance they
received from their spouses was insufficient and all (except for one) had
to find ways of supplementing their income in Singapore. As for duration of stay, it all depends on opportunities was the stock reply.

Linguistic Capital in Singapore

In the small group discussions, participants were allowed to interrupt each other whenever they wished or to nominate alternative topics. They were invited to speak in a round-table fashion which was
semi-structured by the following questions:
Getting to know your questions

Why and how did you come to Singapore?

Has your family life been affected in any way then and now?
What were you doing daily before you came here & what are you
doing here now?
Any plans after Singapore?
Language-focused questions


What languages did you speak in (a) home country (b) Singapore; to
whom, where and when?
What are the language strategies that you and your child employ with
regards to English, Singlish and Mandarin?
Recount some memorable conversations you had with your child(ren)
in Singapore?

I also drew from newspaper reports and commentaries as key secondary

sources, not least because being pro-establishment, Singapore newspapers being generally reliable sources of government-speak in Singapore. The media are also key mouthpieces for carrying state rhetoric
since the state rarely releases information any other way. They carry all
important government announcements on state policy and other official information, not easily available elsewhere.

The seller(s): strategies

For decades, we have seen international students pursuing higher education abroad but now this trend is supplemented by younger students
journeying abroad with their mothers, ostensibly to prepare themselves
for college education later in life. Numbers are increasing in both categories and close to half of these students come from Asia notably
China, Korea, Malaysia, India and Japan (cf. Mena, 2008). This recent
phenomena accounts for the rising number of private (English) language
centres all over the world such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada and
the United States (Collins, 2008).
One such seller is Singapore, which announced in 2002, its intention to attract 150,000 foreign students by 2012, and that like the City
of Boston, it would also aspire to be a Mecca for Education (Ko, 2004).
This statistic is set to challenge the vast continent of Australia which

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

currently has about the same number of overseas students (Duhamel,

2004). This is no mere rhetoric for Singapore is well on its way to
exceed its target (MOE, 2008a) as seen by the industrys contribution
to gross domestic product in 2007 which doubled from 1.9 per cent, or
$3 billion, in 2002 to 3.8 per cent, or about $8 billion (Ho, 2007). While
traditionally, Malaysian and Indonesian students formed the largest
foreign student groups in Singapore, Chinese students now form the
vast majority (Ho, 2007). Where study mothers are concerned, there
were approximately 7,000 Chinese mothers and 5,000 Korean mothers
in 2007 (Toh, 2008). Singapores publicity blitz includes (1) Englishmedium schools, (2) high academic standards, (3) a Mandarin-speaking
population, and other advantages such as (4) cost-effective pricing, cosmopolitan character, global connectivity and safety.
The first draw is that of English as a medium of instruction. Since
independence, in 1965, the Singapore government has been careful not
to indulge in the linguistic nationalism and rhetoric of many post-colonial countries but to instead walk the pragmatic path (Chew, 2009). A
foreign language, in this case English, was thus positioned and nurtured
from the time of independence in 1965 to become the working language
of the Republic. Such linguistic capital, it was believed, would give the
fledgling state an edge in education, academic achievement, international trade and business. Hence, by the 1970s the original 4-languagestream schools (Tamil, Mandarin, Chinese and English) had given way
to English-medium schools where English is taught effectively as the
first language though it is not the dominant home language of many of
the children in schools. To ensure standards, schools continue to groom
students for the more internationally recognized British 0 and A level
certificate school leaving examination administered by the University
of Cambridge Examination syndicate in UK. This view of the English
language as linguistic capital, and the mother tongues as cultural or
symbolic capital, has been ingrained for two generations and successfully implemented, remarkably, without violence or controversy.
There has since developed through the past 5 decades an affinity
with the English language resulting in a linguistic offshoot, Singlish
(the basilectal form of Singapore English) which is the lingua franca
of the street, with its own distinctive grammar, lexis and vocabulary.
However, the Republics ambition to be part of the profitable English-exporting industry meant that low-value Singlish would have to
be suppressed. Hence, in 1999, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong
(PM Goh) warned: We cannot be a first-world economy or go global
with Singlish . . . Poor English reflects badly on us and makes us seem
less intelligent (Goh, 1999). A year later, at the launch of the Speak
Good English Movement (SGEM), he elaborated: Investors will not

Linguistic Capital in Singapore

come if their supervisors and managers can only guess what our workers are saying. It will be hard for Singapore to be a financial center.
TV programmes and films will be difficult to succeed because foreigners do not understand Singlish this will affect the first-world economy
we hope to achieve (Goh, 2000). Colonel Wong, Chair of the SGEM in
2000 reiterated: It is important that while we develop a brand of English which is uniquely identifiable with Singapore, it should not be a
Singlish type (Straits Times, 31 March 2000).
This perception ties in neatly with the aspiration of the study
We discourage our children from speaking local forms of English
although we hear it around us so one reason why my child is in
international school. (Korean, Gp 1)
We understand the value of Singlish in Singapore but certainly not
what we want. (Chinese, Gp 3)

Market supremacy requires a primary orientation to customer needs

and wants and, like any campaign, SGEM must consider how it can
persuade Singaporeans to switch to a better brand, in this case, Local
Standard English (LSE) (Alsagoff, 2007). While SGEM itself does not
conduct courses, its many partners provide expertise in various areas of
learning English from basic English courses to business communication, and from storytelling to teaching children to read. Each year, there
are hundreds of activities and programmes on good English at schools,
libraries and community clubs. At the same time, the mass media has
discreetly cut down on its use of Singlish, especially in popular television sitcoms. Singapore is thus poised to export its own variety of LSE,
in keeping with the practice of ELT-exporting nations such as United
States, Britain and Australia.
The second draw for study mothers is that Singapore schools are
known to be academically challenging, something which ambitious
Asian mothers desire for their children. Indeed, immigration agencies in
China and Korea make it known to potential foreign students that Singapore students have consistently won prizes in science and Mathematics
in the international Olympiads (Lee, 2008b). Singapore students consistently rank high in Mathematics and Science competitions, reading literacy skills and other international measures of performance (Tan, 2005).5
As a study mother puts it:
Singapore has a good record in Maths and Science and even better
this is taught in English. (Korean, Gp 1)
The Singapore certificates are better recognized in western countries so I am confident Ive done the right thing. (PRC, Gp 3)


Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

The high standards are maintained in part by the Confucian state ideology which places family and examinations, the competitive ranking of
schools and the ability-grouping of children at an early age as important measures of excellence. Singapore students are ability-grouped
first at the end of their fourth year and again at the end of Grade 6 when
they sit for the nation-wide primary school leaving exam. In secondary
schools, the more able pupils are placed in 4-year special or express
courses while the remaining pupils are put into 4- or 5-year normal
academic course. The Confucian emphasis on rigour and education
also adds to Singapores appeal:
I go to Singapore and not Australia because there is more homework here so more similar (to my home country). (Korean, Gp 1)

In addition, there is a bonus for the linguistic migrants the widespread use of Mandarin a language which also commands a high premium due to the recent emergence of China as a super power (Chew,
2007). This, what I would call a buy-one-get-one-free phenomenon,
places Singapore in an advantageous position compared to other English-exporting countries such as Australia and New Zealand. As China
is Koreas top trading partner, there is also a desire for Koreans to master Chinese:
spending half of my income on tuition in Seoul and not getting
much results, I desperately want to improve . . . (Korean, Gp 2)

For Chinese mothers, the presence of Mandarin enables them to feel at

home in the Republic and allows them to adapt quickly and easily to
the local culture.
In China, we also learn English and Chinese but in Singapore it is
the other way round Chinese and English and this is better . . .
because I already speak to my child in Chinese so what we need is
more English and less Chinese . . . (Chinese, Gp 4)

However, according to Park and Bae (2008), while Korean mothers

openly proclaim that the availability of Mandarin immersion is one
of the draws, in practice, most if not all of their resources and time are
spent in learning English rather than Mandarin, as seen in the books
they buy and the tutors they engage. This is probably due to the lack of
time, since the mastery of English does require a lot of time and effort.
The third draw for foreigners is the increasingly cosmopolitan
nature of Singapore. Singapore is the worlds most globalized country
according to the A. T. Kearney/Foreign Policy Globalization Index.6
In recent years, its population has increased significantly through net
migrational surpluses, a factor which adds to its globalized appeal. In
a survey of migrant population, Singapore leads with 42.6 per cent,

Linguistic Capital in Singapore

followed by Australia at 20.3 per cent of overall population (Lambert,

2007: 2425)
. . . Singapore feels like another hometown of mine . . . and the climate and food is easy to adjust to. (Chinese mother, Gp 4)
. . . there is a good mix of Western and Eastern culture and we are
not uncomfortable at all. (Korean mother, Gp 3)

The Republic welcomes foreigners liberally and is open to huge

increases in population. Indeed, there has been a novel suggestion
by Parliament in 2004 to double Singapores current population of
4 million to 8 million so as to gain a competitive edge. It is a proposal
not to be taken lightly, being already in quiet practice even before its
official announcement. For example, Singapores population grew from
2.4 million in 1980 to 3.1 million in 1990 and to 4 million in 2000 (Dept.
of Statistics, 2001). In other words, between 1980 and 1990 the population grew by 29 per cent and between 1990 and 2000, it grew by yet
another 29 per cent a total of 67 per cent in 20 years.7 Yet this doubling
is not a result of the natural birth rate, since fertility had reached below
replacement level as early as 1975, and currently is one of the worlds
lowest at 1.26 in 2007 (Dept. of Statistics, 2008). Population growth has
therefore come from migration, notably from China and India. The proposal is indeed unique, since no country in the world has ever wittingly
sought to make its citizens a minority in the name of economic growth.8
Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew (MM Lee), the father of modern Singapore, explains: We are multiracial. So absorbing new migrants of different races and religions and cultures doesnt worry us. In fact, it makes
us more attractive as a cosmopolitan center, and makes us more relevant
to the world (Straits Times, 22 December 2004, p. H6).
Many scholarships are offered to bright foreign students, notably
from China and India. Such largesse is deemed essential since foreigners provide the fuel both in the school and the workplace, and serve
as a means to encourage Singaporeans to raise their standards at work
and play.9 They also serve to entice more foreigners to consider planting roots in the republic. This has prompted the Singapore press to
debate whimsically whether by 2020, there might be a Singaporean
Prime Minster born in China? (Quek, 2007). As Minister Mentor Lee
Kuan Yew explained: If one out of four foreign students from China or
India stayed behind in Singapore, . . . Singapores talent pool would
outweigh that of any neighboring country (Today, 14 October 2004).
There are other services that Singapore provides for foreign students.
Since 2004, a foreign Student Tracking System has been established to
provide regular reports to highlight key trends to allow for timely decision-making by the government. In 2005, an accreditation council as

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

well as CaseTrust, a hallmark of trust in student protection and welfare,

was also established (Ko, 2004). Recently there has been built a culturally vibrant student Bohemia in a notable part of the city, as well as an
International Student Center. Family host programmes are also present
to support the industry. Last but not the least and of special concern to
this study, is the introduction of long-term social visit passes available
for female social visitors whose child/grandchild is studying in Singapore on a students pass.10
Finally, at some point in the discussion, we also found that our
mothers, belonging to the increasingly mobile, educated middle-class,
were informed or assisted by other Koreans or Chinese who had visited
Singapore before either as tourists and exchange students. The cumulative experiences of past migrants and their networks also propelled
them towards Singapore.
Weve been to Singapore twice as tourists. My cousin also worked
here . . . so we feel it is a safe place. (Korean, Gp 1)
I was here in 2006 on a 3 month course sent by my company and
I know I can settle here and I have also made some friends the last
time. (Chinese, Gp 3)

Park and Abelmann (2004) has also described transmigrants, such as

our mothers, as leading a life clearly evolving around a cosmopolitan

The buyers: linguistic motivations

The seekers of linguistic capital are usually those who cannot find it
at home, The mothers in my study are keenly aware of the changing
conditions of the world, especially with regards to globalization, the
greater interdependencies between nations and the relentless restructuring of the world economy. They are highly literate and have done
their share of travelling in other countries. In this section, we focus
on the push factors for linguistic migration such as globalization, the
growth of the middle class, migrants high regard for education and the
lack of linguistic resources in their home communities.
The primary push factor is, of course, globalization which has brought
in its wake vast population mobility, the emergence of multi-cultural
societies in many places, and an exponential increase in international
human interactions. The capital market policies accompanying globalization have expanded the role of transnational corporations which own
many production facilities outside their home countries. The ubiquitous
presence of multinationals worldwide has erased the novelty of linguistic
migration. For example, in Korea, two thirds of the top 700 companies in

Linguistic Capital in Singapore

Korea have branches or regional offices abroad (Ok, 2005). The IMF crisis
of 1997 also saw many Korean banks bought over by foreigners which led
to the end of Korean insularization, as evident in the subsequent introduction of the global language English in elementary school (where
before it was only introduced in middle school). Similarly, in China,
most if not all of the worlds 500 largest corporations have obtained a
foothold there and these multinationals want employees who speak
English. Many businesses, especially export-oriented ones, require candidates for the most sought after positions to have top grades in English
and to complete job interview in English. Even in the most isolated rural
communities, parents understand that the study of English is crucial to
childrens social mobility. See note #5 at the end of the chapter.
Another push factor is that education is highly prized in these Confucian-based societies and economic success closely affiliated to educational success. Children have been and still are regarded primarily
as the wealth of the family and part of the familys economic capital.
For example, South Koreas private tuition market is estimated to be
33.5 trillion won (SGD 54.3 billion) about 4 per cent of the nations
gross domestic product fuelled by families who spend 700,000 won
a month on tuition (Lee, 2007). As educational opportunities in Korea
have expanded universities churn out 530,000 graduates but there are
only about 400,000 new jobs the pressure on middle-class families to
succeed in the local education system has correspondingly increased
(Jeong, 2004). Competition to get into the best schools and the best universities is fiercer than ever before. In a calculated gamble to possess
linguistic capital, our respondents admitted to spending a large chunk
of their disposable income on their children: the hiring of tutors, enrolling in supplementary classes, purchase of extra guide books and making
sure that children structure their lives around school and schoolwork
(Kim, 2007). East Asian parents have a tradition of prizing childrens
achievements highly, with the low birth rate, with the only child syndrome in both societies upping the stakes.
Despite their difference in social and economic background, the two
nationalities spoke the common language of mothering which is to
make a good living for our children:
Our children have similar standards of Maths and Science back
home but we do not have English; which is necessary if our children are to do well in the university. (Korean, Gp 2)

Correspondingly, in China, the past decade has seen kindergartens and

first grade children studying English, which alongside Mathematics
and Chinese, is one of three core subjects that anchor the curriculum of
80 million secondary school pupils (Liu, 2007). China has also recently

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

decreed that all universities under the Ministry of Education are to

use English as the main teaching language in courses such as information technology, biotechnology, new-material technology, finance,
foreign trade, economics and law (Wen and Hu, 2007).11 In 2001, English was made compulsory in all Chinese primary schools this move
elevated English to a position of universal skill rather than as merely
another foreign language (Graddol, 2006: 72). Privately funded education which vanished since 1949 is making a comeback. At the end of
2005, 15 million students were enrolled in 77,000 non-state schools
i.e. 8 per cent of the 197 million Chinese children aged 5 to 14 (Straits
Times, 2007: 26)1. The Economist (12 April 2006) reported that up to
one fifth of the population is learning English and that in view of such
statistics, the English-speaking population in China will outnumber the
native speakers in the rest of the world in two decades. The speed of the
reforms has led to a huge shortage in qualified English teachers. Indeed,
English teaching capabilities are stretched to breaking point in colleges
and universities where enrolments are increasing. This situation is not
helped by the fact that both China and Korea are expanding circle/EFL
nations (Kachru, 1985) and few learners have real-life contexts where
they can communicate with speakers from outside the PRC or Korea.
Such a situation has led to the emergence of private businesses outside regular schools and universities particularly in big cities. Nunan
(2008: 110) reports that in Korea/China there may be approximately
600,000 new enrolments in private English conversation schools every
4 to 6 months. According to Nunan (ibid.), although the latest syllabus
is based on a relatively modern functional/notional view of English and
while concepts such as communicative language teaching and learnercentredness are referred to frequently, there is no way to find out how
much classroom realities affect rhetoric.
Thus a key push factor for linguistic migration is the phenomenon of
demand-outstripping-supply in both Korea and China and the fact that
more and more families are faced with the mismatch between their own
rising expectations and the realities of language learning opportunities
in their own countries.
Most Korean English teachers are not fluent so how can we expect
our children to be good in English? There are not enough native
speakers to go around in Korea. (Korean, Gp 2)
. . . no opportunity to practice English in my hometown so best way
is to go to a school which uses English as a medium of instruction.
(Chinese, Gp 1)

For example, while South Korean children learn English throughout

their 12 years in school, most are shy to speak it. Indeed, a report by

Linguistic Capital in Singapore

the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultants ranked

South Korea lowest among 12 countries in East Asia in 2003 where fluency in English was concerned (Lee, 2008a). One way to counter this
is the strategy by Korean and Chinese nationals to defer for one or two
years their university degree programme, in order to obtain an English
certificate abroad, which they know will give them an advantage when
applying for a job (Cho, 2004: 34).
Moreover, the growth of a new middle class population with higher
disposable income and technical expertise as a result of the industrialization in Korea from the 1960s and in China from the 1980s has led to a
rising demand for English language higher education (Duhamel, 2004).
Assuming that an income of about USD 9,000 per annum is necessary to
be considered middle class, present estimates of middle class in China
will range from 100 million to 247 million. With one hundred new megacities which will be built in China by 2015, each with more than 10 million residents (Canton, 2006: 304), the China State information Center
expects 25 per cent of the populace to qualify as middle class by 2010.12
The rise of the middle class is often correlated with a rising demand for
education, especially English education (Wen and Hu, 2007).
Bearing in mind that half of Chinas population is below the age of
25 and that undergraduate applications to Peking university in the past
few years have over a million applicants for very limited places (Canton, 2006: 307), structural mechanisms are in place for the rise in the
numbers of study mothers. Hence, parents in rapidly expanding numbers in both countries are seeking to give their children an edge by
helping them become fluent in English while sparing them and themselves, the stress often experienced in studying in their own countries
education system. This new urban middle class is not afraid to seek
temporary or permanent migration as a solution to the structural and
cultural imbalances between their expectations of upward mobility and
their lack of means to realize them in their own country. In the words
of the study mothers:
We will get a leg up when my son goes back to Korea . . . (Korean,
Gp 1)
There are too many geniuses in China . . . the only way to compete
with them is to learn English. (Chinese, Gp 3)

The costs and rewards of linguistic migration

Of my 15 discussants, 13 were satisfied with their childrens progress;
only 2 expressed concern that their child experienced difficulties in
coping with linguistic, general academic and social demands. As a

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

result, they were toying with the idea of moving to another school or
country (Malaysia and/or Philippines) in the hope that the changed
environment (and in the case of the Chinese mothers lower cost of
living) would provide a solution to their problem.
The high success rate resonates with reports that while foreign students make up zero to 20 per cent of educational institutions, they are
disproportionately visible in their achievements in and out of the classroom, for example, 6 out of the top 17 Primary School Leaving Examination candidates were born in China (Nirmala and Soh, 2004: 23).
Similarly, in local universities, although foreign students comprised
less than 10 per cent of the course enrolment, 30 per cent of the Honours class was foreigners (Quek, 2007). In the GCE 0 levels examinations, half of the 25 students who scored 9 A1s were foreign students,
particularly, from China (ibid., 2007). This is something worth further
investigation in view of the fact that current research views the switching of the medium of instruction to English as a costly and dangerous remedy that ignores the research of educational linguistics and the
clear evidence that students require 6 or 7 years to reach a level of
proficiency in a new language that will make teaching and learning efficient (Spolsky, 2008: 98). Hence, the so-called wild geese phenomenon
is ill-advised popular demand and one that will lead to detrimental
academic and emotional performance overall (ibid.).
When mothers were asked to share the study strategies that could
have led their children to receive acceptable grades in school despite
their lower competencies in English compared to Singaporean students,
the following are typical comments:
My son spent his first month in Singapore when he was 15 memorizing all the vocabulary. He had a notebook and everywhere
he went, he would take down notes. He also joined all kinds of
activities and clubs so that he would be forced to learn and use
English. (Her son scored an A2 for O-level English within 2 years.)
(Chinese, Gp 4)
We have always realized that this is a swim-or-sink situation.
(Korean, Gp 1)
We dont have families here, so we can give our total commitment.
(Chinese, Gp 3)
Studying is not a burden because back in China, we study everyday
from 7 am to 7 pm. (Chinese, Gp 4)

The study mothers and their children live seemingly harmonious and
ordered lives, organized around the strong focus of study and social

Linguistic Capital in Singapore

My childrens hours are full and ordered. They are in school from 8
am to 3 pm. When they come back they usually do homework until
10 pm. English and Maths tuition takes place from 4 pm to 6 pm.
On weekends, they attend Korean classes and in these sessions, we
keep us with news from home. (Korean, Gp 2)
My child studies past midnight every day there is no rest day.
(Chinese, Gp 4)

My discussants were generally thankful for the rewards that came

with linguistic migration. For example, in the processes of overseeing their childrens education, they confessed to unexpectedly acquiring an inner happiness due largely in part to the sacrifices which
they admitted to acquiring. Although confessing that life was physically and mentally more taxing in Singapore than back home, they
felt charged, focused and motivated compared to past helplessness
and desperation. This may be attributed in large part to feelings of on
course or directness in view of the extended educational opportunities which were available for their children and which were absent
in their home countries. What we give to the children will come back
to us says a mother categorically. They themselves also admitted to
becoming more cosmopolitan through the attainment of a vast reservoir of intercultural knowledge and skills. Their sense of oppression
which they had experienced in the first year in Singapore gradually
transformed as they found new friends and as their English language
skills gradually improved. They were also unexpectedly pleased with
the unexpected bonus of finding a critical mass of similar people like
themselves in Singapore, with which they could identify and befriend.
Thus the discussants within each of my four groups were friends and
fellow sojourners.
However, it was evident from the conversations that these women
paid a heavy price such as loneliness and insecurity in their quest
for linguistic capital. This loneliness can be attributed to separation
from their families as well as inadequate communication skills in English. A lot of the mothers come from places where people do not normally speak English. For example, none of the Korean mothers I spoke
with appeared to know more than 100 words of English even though
half of them had stayed in Singapore for over two years. The Chinese
mothers knew a little more English and could communicate in Singlish
if they wanted to, although all preferred to communicate in Mandarin.
The relative fluency of Chinese mothers vs. Korean mothers may be
due to the fact that the former had more opportunities to practice their
English since they needed to leave the confines of their homes to supplement their income. This is in sharp contrast to the more confined

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

Korean mothers who were full-time homemakers staying at home

predominantly with their lives centred on their children and activities organized by the Korean-speaking evangelical churches that have
sprung up in Singapore to cater to their needs. The Korean mothers had
a strong preference for speaking Korean, and confessed apologetically
to knowing few Singaporeans. Hence and ironically while churches
helped solve the problem of loneliness and insecurity by providing
Korean mothers an opportunity to mingle with others like themselves,
they have also lessened their opportunities for acquiring the linguistic
capital which they so much desire for their children.
The study mothers face two types of insecurity: financial and social.
Social insecurity results from the insecurity of being in a new place,
often without friends:
The problem is that we often do not know how hard it is for us
and our children to adapt to the local society and to make friends.
(Korean, Gp 2)

Separated spouses are often very lonely relying mainly on virtual

intimacies through the use of the telephone, email and Skype as a means
of solace and comfort (cf. Wilding, 2006). Some mothers alluded to the
commonality of extra-marital affairs by both spouses in their respective places of residence. When these become public, marriage ties dissolve and divorces are often the result. Hence, it is ironical that while
linguistic migration was seen initially as a means of strengthening the
family, it has often led to their break-up. Some mothers confess to bouts
of crying:
My heart is broken when I hear some bad news from home as I am
too far away to be of help. (Korean, Gp. 1)
My son cries when he sees fathers of his classmates bringing them
to eat and shop. (Chinese mother, Gp 3)

While social hardships are equally shared by mothers, Chinese mothers

face the added hardships of financial insecurity. Unlike their Korean
counterparts, Chinese mothers suffer a drastic drop in the standard of
living due to the significantly higher costs of living in Singapore. First,
their English competency is poor and their tertiary education qualifications are often not recognized by employers in Singapore, factors which
have driven a considerable number of them to work in sleazy massage
parlours and other hard menial jobs (Toh, 2008).
I have an accounting degree. However I found that I cannot get any
office job although Ive relevant experience in China. So, Ive been
working as a foot reflexologist for the last two years. (Chinese, Gp 4)


Linguistic Capital in Singapore

My husband gives me some money but it is not enough as we have

parents to support. So I supplement my income by giving Chinese
tuition but I do not have enough students, so I also do housecleaning and waitressing. (Chinese, Gp 3)

The little headway Chinese mothers make in English is not so much

due to the lack of contact but more due to the large numbers of Singaporeans who they converse with in Mandarin; and the fact that the menial
jobs they undertake often do not require English. As the study mothers industry is largely unregulated, all of the mothers (except for two
who had prior relatives or friends in Singapore) have had to employ
an agent to help them with the paper work. Such free-lance agents are
often unreliable and I had more than half of my mothers complaining
that they were brought to Singapore at the wrong time of the year where
government school admissions were concerned, that they could not get
in to the school of their choice and that they had to (unexpectedly)
temporarily enroll their child in a private school where the fees were
high and the teaching was poor. Returning to their home is also not an
option, considering their immediate response, which was, typically: It
would be worse in Korea (or China). Or it will be a disgrace to give up
after all your efforts. In the first place, they had left because they perceived that it would be impossible for their children to compete in their
own educational system; hence it was a case where returning home was
of greater difficulty than journeying forward.

Conclusion and implications

I have used the terminology of Bourdieu (2001) for the conceptual
framework of this chapter. The presence of study mothers in many parts
of the world and their single-minded desire for linguistic capital may
be said to represent a strikingly new phenomenon in both migration
and linguistic studies. In addition, the accumulation of various kinds of
capital may also be understood in the context of a more general childcentred familial strategy of capital accumulation in East Asian families
and also in terms of the increasing feminization of decision making in
and outside the family (cf. Yeoh and Devashayam, 2008; Adams and
Kirova, 2007). I have also shown that such migration have been directly
conditioned and motivated by pull and push factors by the educational and interactional constraints of the source country as well as
the ideological and material conditions of the destination country. The
backdrop of democratization and increased materialism as well as the
simultaneous advancement in transportation and communication technology have also made such individual initiatives viable.

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

More significantly, the phenomenon of study mothers may be seen

as widely symbolic of a globalization which has brought in its wake a
general destabilization affecting all societies, vast population mobility,
the emergence of multi-cultural societies in many places, and an exponential increase in human interactions. These transnational families
are both modern and traditional. Modern because they are cognizant
of the latest transnational and communication technologies and use
them to maximize childrens opportunities. Traditional because of an
emphasis on education and parental sacrifice, which is strongly childdirected and child-beneficial. The split-household transnational family,
viewed today as temporary and novel may become, with time, a typical
and relatively mundane feature of the evolving globalized landscape.
Implications abound for language planners. First is the eradication of
the assumption that national borders are impermeable and that people
will live their lives always in one place. Nation-states can no longer
prescribe and/or prohibit access to and use of their political language
of choice for their citizens. In other words, globalization has lessened
the capabilities of nations to direct linguistic preferences. Next, when
migrants live their lives generously across political borders, they challenge many long-held assumptions about membership and linguistic
identity. Geographic mobility, professional change and vagaries of life
give a person multiple social identities that get played out alternatively
on the complex framings and reframing of daily encounters. In short,
multiple social, geographical, political and religious identities cannot
help but influence language use (cf. Omoniyi and White, 2006).
The phenomenon of study mothers has also made it obvious that
people do not primarily leave their country to learn a foreign language
because of the desire to travel and be enriched as was traditionally
assumed. Instead, it is more likely that the majority of international
students leave their country to pursue economic, cultural and social
capital. According to Graddoll (2006), the learning of English is now
regarded more as a skill and a tool, much in the same way as one
would regard learning how to drive a car, a worthwhile life skill; the
acquisition of which would aid its owner in the exchange of other kinds
of capital.
The type of globalization discussed in this chapter has enormous
implications for classrooms which are becoming very diverse. The English language teacher is facing an increasingly multicultural setting in
her class. She sees in the childrens faces the economic and political
pressures behind the transnational migration of parents, as well as the
subtle and sharp diversities of cultures and values. How then can she
use the varied backgrounds of the students to stimulate learning about
themselves, about communication techniques, about the cultures they

Linguistic Capital in Singapore

represent, and about other cultures around the world? Study mothers
are only one small aspect of todays varied discoursal communities
which are identified with atypical linguistic resources and social strategies in their efforts to learn and use language. In this sense, Jenkins
(2007) attempts to find a pedagogical core of phonological intelligibility so as to prioritize features which are more relevant and realistic to
learning targets becomes increasingly relevant in a world where sellers
are non-native and where the majority of transactions in English take
place entirely between non-native speakers rather than between native
and non-native speakers.

1 Global village is a term coined by Wyndham Lewis in his book America
and Cosmic Man (1948).
2 English is rapidly becoming integrated so deeply into the curriculum that it
will cease to be a foreign language for many, perhaps, most, of the worlds
citizens (quoted in the Straits Times, 10 March 2004).
3 For example, more than 40,000 South Korean school children are believed
to be living outside South Korea with their mothers in what experts say
is an outgrowth of a new era of linguistic migration (Lee, 2008b).
4 The China State Information Center considers those earning 50,000 yuan
(USD 6,227) per year to be middle class,see at http://www.wikinvest.com/
concept/Rise_of_Chinas_Middle_Class retrieved on 19 September 2008.
5 In July 2008, Singapore students clinched a total of 17 medals at four International Olympiads for Science and Mathematics, see at http://feeds.feedburner.com/singapore-education/press retrieved on 4 October 2008.
6 See http://www.atkearney.com/main.taf?p=5,3,1,143,3 retrieved on
10 December 2008.
7 Singapores population hit 4.84 million in June 2008, a 5.5 per cent
increase from the 4.59 million in 2007, despite a resident total fertility rate of only 1.29 in 2007 attributed mainly to more PRs taking up
Singaporean citizenship (Dept. of Statistics, 2008).
8 It is estimated that in 20 years time, Singapores population will increase
to 6.5 million (See Singapore gearing up for 6.5 million population; Straits
Times, 20 February 2008).
9 See Scholarships for foreigners we take some, we give some. Straits
Times, 27 March 2008.
10 See http://www.country-stdies.com/sinapore/population.html retrieved
on 9 September 2008.
9 See http://app.ica.gov.sg/serv_visitor/student_pass_app.asp retrieved on
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11 See http://english.people.com.cn/92824/94785/index.html retrieved on
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12 Assuming that China grows at 10 per cent per year (triple the US growth
rate), as it has done in the past decade, it will be second only to the United


Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

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have over 600 million middle-class citizens by 2015.
1 Blooomberg news report Boom time for private education in China, Straits
Times, 14 March 2007, p. 12.

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Globalization and English

Teaching in Sri Lanka: Foreign
Resources and Local Responses
Kaushalya Perera and Suresh Canagarajah

Chapter summary
English teaching has been a site of friction in Sri Lanka from the
time it became a British colony. In the last several years, English has
become the focus of language policies, both planned and unplanned,
resulting from increased globalization. Many universities in
Sri Lanka have undertaken ESL courses geared towards the employment sector while private companies have become more involved
in ESL education in the country. Public discourse about education
is increasingly centred on the role of English as paving the way
to professional development and a tool for accessing the global.
In this context, we will examine the motivation behind increasing
interest of private (and sometimes international) organizations in
ESL teaching for an ideology that ties English with globalization.
While globalized organizations (such as privately owned corporations) invest in ESL courses, ground level organizations are necessary for such implementation. The tension arising from a conflict
in the ideologies between these two levels will bring out important
findings on pedagogical intervention, social reproduction and linguistic resistance.

Language planning and policy endeavours are generally talked about
at the macro-level by many scholars. Literature in the fields of ELT
as well as in minority language education has concentrated on the
powerlessness of the individual or the community in decision making (see Phillipson, 1992; Ricento, 2006). However, such a deterministic perspective was not always reproduced in colonial subjects, since
there were also situations where the subjects engaged positively with
both the local and the colonizing languages (Canagarajah, 1999). Such
instances which were called instances of resistance showed the
need for micro-level analyses through grounded theory (Canagarajah,

Globalization and English Teaching in Sri Lanka

1999: 5). In his text, Resisting Linguistic Imperialism in English Teaching, the second author of this chapter uses the example of English Language teaching in the Tamil community in northern Sri Lanka as a the
case study to put forward his proposal for a theory grounded by the
lived experiences of the community.
The necessity for critical and contextualized accounts of globalization and what it entails has similarly been elaborated by the second
author and other scholars (Canagarajah, 2005b). He points out that local
knowledge is denigrated as descriptions of phenomena move away
from the details thickness of local texture (2005a: 5). Not only the
global, but the local is also constructed fluidly, making a collection of
articles such as Canagarajah (2005b) where scholars contextualize globalization by focusing on phenomena that have changed the course of
languages in various communities important. The specificities of the
language policy changes in Malaysia (David and Govindasamy, 2005)
and the tensions between expert knowledge and local knowledge in
ELT in Brazil (Rajagopalan, 2005) resonate particularly well because
they deal with stresses that are common to the South Asian context
as well.
For many nation-states English is the colonial linguistic inheritance, initially learnt for and by the exercise of power. Robert Phillipson
(1992) demonstrates how English language teaching (ELT) disguised
in acronyms such as TESL, TESOL, TEFL, ESL, EAP, ESP 1 has been
fed by transcontinental economic (and other resource) flows to the postcolonial developing world (1992). Other scholars have shown that this
rise in the status of English would not have been possible without the
collusion of local communities (Canagarajah, 1999; Dharmadasa, 1996).
Many nation states are still trying to reconcile the status of English
with their other languages. It appears, therefore, that there is a certain
tension in the relations among globalization, English and education in
the local contexts. Sri Lanka is a particularly good example in which to
situate the analysis of these tensions.
Most definitions of globalization focus on the imbalance in goods,
services and funds, benefiting certain states and communities but not
others. While these definitions think of globalization as the carrier of
ideologies, it would be more fruitful to concur with Guillen that globalization is an ideology in itself (Guillen, 2001). It is a system of beliefs
about the social and political realities that are entailed by the word globalization, including a vision of development relating to technological advancement achieved through a linguistic tool English. English
is the medium of the exchange. The World Bank, one of the biggest
supra-state actors and almost synonymous with globalization in certain
domains, has become a key figure in English language learning (and

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

teaching) in Sri Lanka by becoming the biggest donor for education in

the last decade.
This chapter will explore the local in the context of globalization,
discussing the contradictory and not always complementary ways in
which the global and the local work. Specifically we look at the debilitating role of one of the key agents of globalization: The World Bank.
With a focus on both school and tertiary education we try to show how
World Bank policies on financing education privilege English while
marginalizing indigenous languages. We look at the way these policies
are slipped in through state machinery and how professionalism is
made out to be a result of linguistic ability. It is colonialism of the new
order as the former colonial language is now considered the global language which is a must for all academic and professional work. In this
chapter, we try to analyse the particular changes that are under way
in the Sri Lankan education system, and the specific ways in which a
particular programme was designed to resist the globalization process
as well.
The first author of this chapter has been personally involved with
the program that we use as a case study. She was in charge of implementing an ESL course for school teachers in the government school
system in 20042005. While coordinating the course, she also taught on
the course, and was responsible for the preparation of lesson material
and teaching of reading and literature. Field notes were collected of the
meetings held prior to the course, and during the course, of the reading
sections and literature sections that were taught by the second author.
These field notes, as well as documents related to World Bank activities
in Sri Lanka, are used for this chapter.

The place of English in Sri Lankan education

The consequences of colonialism and the effects of globalization on
education in Sri Lanka are considerable. The system of school education as we know it now is by and large a product of Western European
colonial expansion, which replaced indigenous education systems.2 In
some cases, the imposition of literacy, and dependent educational and
economic features, also meant the erasure of the communitys history
that was encapsulated in oral traditions (e.g., as it happened in many
Native American and African communities (McCarty and Zepeda, 1999;
Obeng and Adegbija, 1999) as well as the Vanniyala Eththo the indigenous people in Sri Lanka (Rajapakse, 2008)). Tertiary education in
Sri Lanka was once known to produce fluently English-speaking graduates, but has now become a bone of contention because of its perceived
inability to produce graduates employable in the corporate sector.

Globalization and English Teaching in Sri Lanka

Before we discuss the workings of global representatives in

Sri Lanka, a brief detour is necessary to look at the factors that marked
the course of education there. Sri Lanka is known for free education in
accordance with a policy of education for all (Ministry of Education,
2003a). Alongside the public education system exist a limited number
of private schools and a much-debated international school system.3 By
2002, the public education system catered to 4,027,075 students. There
are 66 private schools in the country, which are mostly located around
the larger cities of Colombo and Kandy. In addition to these schools,
there are over 500 pirivenas which are centres of learning for Buddhist
priests (Ministry of Education, 2003a). There are no census data on the
international schools as they do not come under the purview of the
state ministries concerned with education. There are also numerous
colleges that have sprung up offering distance education from Northern
American, European and Australian tertiary educational institutions,
catering to affluent students who are usually not part of the public university system.
By the time Sri Lanka gained independence from Britain in 1948,
English was the sole language of administration throughout the island.
Education in English was for students in a limited number of feelevying schools whereas public schools taught in Sinhala and Tamil.
English was not taught as a second language in these public schools.
The English-educated Ceylonese were employed in the coveted administrative service of the country, referred to euphemistically in the World
Bank funded IRQUE projects website as good opportunities in the government sector. However, a change in government and the ascendancy
of S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike as Prime Minister in 1956 brought about a
change. The Official Languages Act, or to use its better-known label
the Sinhala Only Act, became law in 1956 making Sinhala, the language of the majority, the sole official language.
This was not a sudden shift in the politics of Sri Lanka (or Ceylon as it was then). In Buddhism Betrayed? Tambiah (1992) locates the
Sinhala Buddhist thrust in local politics well before the 1940s. This
shift in policy removed English from the official language position, but
parallel educational reforms made sure it survived as the second language. This shift in policy had already been advocated prior to 1956
by educationists. At present, school children from Grade 3 onwards
have 5 hours of instruction for English language per week (Lo Bianco,
1999). Some schools were allowed to conduct subjects such as science
and mathematics in English medium in secondary school, but were
cautioned not to do so in the primary schools (Circular, 2003/18). The
teaching of subjects in English medium however has been hindered
by problems with resources of teaching and training. As Jo Lo Bianco

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

points out there is no coherent national plan in the education system

with regard to teaching languages, as policies on teaching English as a
second language are not integrated with teaching the national languages
(Sinhala or Tamil as the language medium of the school maybe) (1999).
Teaching English and in English have become particular problems as
English as spoken in Sri Lanka has undergone changes and become
standardized as a native variety (Gunesekera, 2005).
Since Sinhala and Tamil became the languages of education, sections in the bilingual middle-class who passed it on as a home language
became the elite. English is now the best indicator of social class in the
country, with an urban, middle-class minority claiming gate-keeping
rights over Standard Sri Lankan English from others who speak it as
a second language (see Gunesekera, 2005 and Fernando, 2008 for linguistic descriptions of class differences). Privileges accorded to English
speakers are a prime reason for the high demand for ESL in the country
as we will see reflected in the discourse of the state. In 1978, a change
of government and subsequent constitutional reforms brought back
English as the link language. This did not include any changes to the
official role of English in schools.

The agents of globalization in Sri Lanka

The World Banks first bank mission to the country was in late 1951.
The first funding followed soon after in 1954. However, it was only in
the last decade that the education sector received an unprecedented
amount of attention. The General Education Support to schools started
in 1998 with the objective of improving information communication technology (ICT). Other funding (details given later) followed for
teacher education and teacher development projects (Ministry of Education, 2003a). Under the theme of Increasing equitable access to basic
and secondary education, the schools in rural and estate areas will be
reformed . . . to increase equity of access to the full school curriculum,
especially science, English and technology subjects (Sri Lanka Country
Overview, 16 May 2007, emphasis added).
In tertiary education, one of the most important projects by the World
Bank is titled Improving Relevance and Quality of Undergraduate Education (IRQUE). It aims to expend a total value of US$51 million for
universities and university programs under two major components: (a)
institutional strengthening and capacity building; and (b) improving
relevance and quality (IRQUE website, emphasis added). Both components include improving English language and IT skills for undergraduates. Universities submitted project proposals to compete for these
grants, of which a 5-year grant would have a maximum value of SLR

Globalization and English Teaching in Sri Lanka

100 million (= US$ 1 million) (Ministry of Tertiary Education and Training, 2003).
As of June 2006 the education sector of Sri Lanka maintains a credit
nearing US$ 200 million (Sri Lanka Country Overview, 16 May 2007).
The World Bank supports 3 projects targeted to improve the school
education system: First General Education Project, Teacher Education and Teacher Development Project and Second General Education Project. These three projects were given a credit amount totalling
US$ 183.4 million (Ranaweera, 2000: 191). These Projects are mainly
supposed to build infrastructure and enhance the training of teachers. It is clear that these large credit amounts by the World Bank are
given with the explicit expectation that education moves towards
more economically fruitful reforms as defined by globalizing agencies,
i.e. employable presumably by the corporate sector. The language used
in these documents make it clear that English and Science/Technology
(especially ICT) are to all extents and purposes the building blocks
of the proposed educational reforms. By coupling these two subjects,
the World Bank has already decided that English is the medium of
globalization, and as an extension, that other languages of Sri Lanka
are not suitable for science, technology and the globally connected
Increased attention on South Asia by the United States of America
was seen in 20062007. The US Ambassador to Sri Lanka has stated
this explicitly in an interview held in 2007 with a local television
channel when he said our universities are like our corporations
in that they are awake to the opportunities present in investing in
Sri Lankan higher education (MTV Interview, 2007). This is only making explicit the similarities between higher education institutions and
corporations, as can be seen from this excerpt of another speech by the
Preparing Sri Lankas education system for the twenty-first century
will require, in my view, a four-pronged approach: Enhancing
the role of private universities in Sri Lanka; Expanding Englishlanguage training; Training teachers to teach the skills employers
really want; and the important alternative of study abroad. (Blake,
2006, emphasis added)

The century is associated here with private universities and study

abroad along with the expansion of the English language. The US
vision for Sri Lankan education is clear: local languages and education
systems are devalued and are inept in helping the Sri Lankan student
to face the 21st century. It is the first world that decides where the
resources of the developing world will head.

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

This help and World Bank resources are given with the express purpose of Increasing equitable access to basic and secondary education,
whereby the schools in rural and estate areas will be reformed . . . to
increase equity of access to the full school curriculum, especially science, English and technology subjects (World Bank, emphasis added).
The terms equitable, relevance, and quality are insistent concepts
in World Bank literature in relation to education grants, making it
appear that the reforms initiated by the state at this stage will be universally relevant when it becomes obvious that with these reforms in
education are geared towards a narrow and myopic end which will not
be universally applicable to all students or their diverse aspirations.

Local responses
The colonial encounter with the British and the munificence of the
World Bank are not sole factors in the present hunger for English in
Sri Lanka. Similar to many other countries, Sri Lanka too has been
swept along in the worldwide desire for English. In addition to the
institutions that Ashley Halpe mentions (2007) universities, media,
school system we can mention the myriad private tuition classes for
spoken English, the number of speech instructors running elocution
classes, as well as code-switching billboards and TV shows which use
code switching, as signifiers of the desire for English.
The most noticeable trend in education at present is the reversal to
English medium education, which can be seen as a local response to
the management of global capital. As we have shown above, English
is a compulsory subject in the public school system. In the national
school system English is not taught in Grades 1 and 2. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that urban schools like to include English in
their pre-Grade 3 syllabi as well. Tertiary education, however, has had
to bear the brunt of the need for English medium education. The IRQUE
funding projects can be seen as a prime example of how universities
have succumbed to the need for English medium education in tertiary
education, as a large part of their funding goes towards improving English under the guise of improving relevance and quality.
There is a consensus being built by a sizeable portion of the society
that English equals quality education. Recently, the Director of a think
tank on education policy and research reminisced that
A right to education then [colonial days] meant that an education
in the local languages was available free to all but a quality education in the English medium was available only to the children of the
elite and a handful of the talented poor. (Gamage, 2008: 1, emphasis


Globalization and English Teaching in Sri Lanka

Though by making sure that all entrants have access to English, universities are aiming for equity, it is also a fact that by this move towards
English medium education and the hype surrounding it, there will
be less demand for tertiary education in the local languages. It is also
problematic that a language is seen as the purveyor of professionalism
and quality because it lowers the value put on Sinhala or Tamil medium
education. Local languages are here held up as the foil to English
medium education in this excerpt, which is considered to be of a qualitatively higher nature. It can be argued that in a state which offers
tertiary education in the English medium only (as it used to be immediately after independence) it was considered necessary to offer an
option of secondary education in English. However, for a long time
now, Sri Lankan universities have been offering education in the local
languages as well, and the profile of the present-day Sri Lankan nonurban undergraduate is that of a Sinhala/Tamil educated person. Even
though acquisition planning development has been ongoing in Sinhala
and Tamil to deal with previously untaught subject matter in universities, the present discourse on university education tells us that we
have regressed to an ideology that English is the only language that will
enable people to take part in modernity and development. In this context, the urge to have English medium education goes back full circle
to colonial times.
Two of the leading universities in Sri Lanka recently proposed
starting or promoting English medium lecture sessions and examinations. The Department of Commerce, Finance and Management at a
long-standing national university started teaching in English medium
from 2006 onwards, accepting that students who are poor in English
skills might lag behind or in worst cases drop out of the degree (IRQUE
proposal for English course, emphasis added). By teaching in English
even with the realization that they are putting at risk students with
low English proficiency, the university recognizes that English and
business opportunities will be limited to those with higher English
proficiency, i.e. from a middle-class, urban, English-speaking home
The introductory paragraph in the IRQUE website represents this
class ideology best:
In the early years of university education in Sri Lanka, there was
a good education, numbers entering the university were small and
they came from the upper strata of society, English was the medium
of instruction, funds were available, and good job opportunities
were available in the Government sector. Today the situation is
very different. Much larger numbers of students are being admitted
and they come from all backgrounds, Sinhala/Tamil is the medium


Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

of instruction, funding is limited, and state sector employment is

minimal. The consequence has been a decline in standards and a
major problem of unemployed graduates.

It is not only the subtle coercion from World Bank or the availability of funding to teach English that is driving the reforms. It is also
the nostalgia to get back to a past when undergraduate education was
good that is colluding with the changes that are being put in place
enthusiastically. This excerpt also brings up the earlier upper strata/
English speaking/employable students as polar opposites of the all
backgrounds/Sinhala- or Tamil-speaking/unemployable students of
the present day.
Note the use of the adjective good to emphasize the deterioration of
quality in the products of universities, which appears to be related to
issues of social class and availability of funding. Additionally, the discourse surrounding the plight of graduates of these universities and the
quality of their education emphasizes words such as professionalism,
modern, global outlook and most importantly, private or corporate
sector. It seems, that professionalism is a concept aligned with the corporate sector. It is this context that must be taken into account when we
think of the mounting concern over the English language proficiency
of these graduates. Their inability to express themselves in English is
often cited as a major reason for their unemployability. This could be a
reason for the vast amount of funds that have been borrowed from the
World Bank and other funding agencies to develop education in the
In addition, in post-2003 selected schools started teaching subjects
such as Mathematics, Social Studies and, most notably, Science and
Technology in English from Grades 610 (Ministry of Education, 2003b).
This is a direct step backward in terms of corpus planning (and status
planning) as students had been taught Mathematics, Science and Technology for the past several decades in the national languages Sinhala
and Tamil. Additionally, textbooks, teaching guides and study guides
had necessitated the development of a linguistics word base on these
subjects in Sinhala and Tamil as well. Besides, the lack of resources
for English teaching makes this an ambitious task. As a consequence of
the change in language policies, there has been a dearth of proficient
English speakers in the school teaching profession from the 1950s. At
present, any individual who has obtained a credit 4 for English language in the Grade 10 national examination is qualified to be an English teacher. Even so, there is a lack of English teachers in the education
system. Given this situation, attempting to teach other subjects in English will be a Herculean, and disastrous, endeavour. However, the fact
that the state is still going ahead with its plans is proof of the power of

Globalization and English Teaching in Sri Lanka

English, and the choice of technology as the most suitable subjects to

be taught in English medium makes it clear that this is done within the
discourse of globalization.
The process of globalization, with attendant English, has been
equalled to a juggernaut. However, as Henry, Lingard, Rizvi and Taylor
(1999) state, communities can come up with their own ways of negotiating and appropriating the globalizing process for their own purposes
and interests. Though their article does not mention Sri Lanka or even
South Asia, the notions brought up in it are useful for the present context of Sri Lanka. It points out that unlike in previous eras of history,
nation-states cannot control the market-forces or other forces that influence education. Since the education system is important in building
social capital, it is difficult to move it away from nation-building as
well. The authors require a more political involvement from groups
with micro-level involvement, giving as examples community groups
and unions (Henry et al., 1999). We use the case study presented here as
another such point of political involvement but in a different way: that
of converting a globally funded course into a locally textured course.
In the following section the Diploma in English for Teachers of English (DETE) course that took place in 20042005 in the University of
Kelaniya is described as an example of such a negotiated space.

Local responses: Diploma in English for Teachers

of English (DETE)
An English language course for English teachers of primary and secondary schools was considered a necessity because of the low proficiency they showed in English. The course was proposed to the
English Language Teaching Units (ELTUs)/Departments of English of
Sri Lankan universities by the Ministry of Human Resources, Education and Cultural Affairs in 2003. A common diagnostic test would be
held for all participants 5 who applied for this course, which would be
limited to non-graduate trained teachers of English. Only participants
who scored between 3590 per cent would be chosen for the course,
as it was felt that participants scoring beyond 90 per cent would not
need a proficiency course. Separate arrangements were made by the
Ministry to conduct a residential course for participants scoring less
than 35 per cent (field notes, September 2003). Following the entrance
test, the various universities would conduct separate DETE courses in
20042005. The course was free for the participants as a result of being
funded by the World Bank. The course was proposed as a 320-hour
course with the following components: Reading, Writing, Listening and
Speaking, Structure of English, and Literature in the English language.

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

Each university would prepare lesson materials independently, putting

into use the knowledge that universities have gained working with
the school system and the specific needs of teachers in the Sri Lankan
school system. The course would be conducted on a weekly (one whole
day or two afternoons of the weekend) basis (field notes, September
The University of Kelaniya held one of the biggest DETE courses,
with 200 participants. From the beginning, the course was designed
to go beyond language teaching. This was because some of the teachers of the course felt that language proficiency alone did not account
for the poor quality of English teaching in schools. It was well-known
that ongoing teacher-training was rare in schools, and it was therefore
decided to incorporate teacher training, foundational linguistics and
presentation skills into the course in the second half, while the first
half would consist of the components suggested by the Ministry.
This was a space for the ELTU to utilize foreign funds towards a localized course for teachers in local schools. Efforts were made to tweak
the course to local needs by lessons planned to integrate material and
skills useful for their teaching practice. For example, the reading skills
session had discussions on making reading lessons, and on how reading lessons could be taught in the schools. Lessons were designed to
train teachers in various student-centred activities that could be used
in large classrooms with few physical resources (field notes, December
2004). A guest lecture and follow-up sessions discussed Sri Lankan
English (SLE) and its status with the participants. This was felt to be
a necessary component since many teachers identified British English
as the variety spoken and taught in Sri Lanka (Gunesekera, 2005). The
literature section included entries from post-colonial writers, such as
Shyam Selvadurai and Jhumpa Lahiri, and was taught with the intention of developing critical thinking skills as well as an appreciation of
literature (field notes, February 2005).

The DETE is an instance of the appropriation of a globalizing agencys
agenda to suit the specificities of local requirement. The vast amount
of money that was made available for universities in Sri Lanka would
not have been possible outside a context of coercion by the World Bank
and other interested parties (such as the USA) to regress to English
Only education in a multilingual country. The constant pressure to produce an English-speaking work force creates the necessary compulsion
to accept the World Banks loans in fashioning an educational sector
that is relevant to the programmes of the agencies. However, global

Globalization and English Teaching in Sri Lanka

agencies cannot operate at ground level without the presence of local

institutions which create the space for local tempering of the agenda.
This space is a shifting ground that developing nations need to be
able to see to utilize. The DETE saw its space for manipulation of foreign resources when planning syllabus and lessons. It also interpreted
the regulations regarding the course to suit what they felt to be urgent
for their own needs, which were different from those articulated by
the foreign agency. This space for negotiation is visible and available
when the local becomes conscious of their own agency in manipulating the near-invisible threads of influence that supra-state institutions
such as the World Bank are spinning. Our stance in this chapter is to
highlight the negative consequences of engaging in ELT projects which
do not take into consideration the finer points of the socio-political
contexts they exist in. Engagement with the activity while ignoring the
ideology of the World Bank in pushing English to the forefront could
result in further marginalizing speakers of Sinhala and Tamil as well as
other languages in Sri Lanka. As ELT practitioners it is important that
we recognize our space as a politically important space and that in a
multilingual space changing the status of one language also affects the
other languages. Such an awareness brings about a realization that global agendas can be pulled into shape to suit the specificities of South
Asian social and cultural contexts, thereby benefiting our students.

1. TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language), TESOL (Teaching English as a Second or Other Language), TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign
Language), ESL (English as a Second Language), EAP (English for
Academic Purposes), ESP (English for Special Purposes).
2. The statement that colonialism took away other forms of education should
not be taken to also mean that we romanticize the problematics of previous
education systems, such as a bias for males of higher caste in South Asian
learning communities.
3. International schools function outside the purview of the Education
Ministry, range widely in terms of quality of education and facilities
offered, and offer both national and foreign secondary school examinations. Since there is no provision to found new schools under state
law, the international schools are instituted under the Companies Act of
Sri Lanka and come under the purview of the Board of Investments.
4. The highest grade which can be obtained is a D (distinction; 75100 points),
which is the grade above a C (credit; 6075 points).
5. The students of the DETE course will hereafter be termed participants, to
prevent confusion between the teacher-students of the course and the teachers on the course.


Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

Blake, R. (November 2006), The United States and Sri Lanka, Mutual
Strategies in Development and Security, Sujata Jayawardena Memorial
Oration, Colombo, Sri Lanka, available at http://srilanka.usembassy.gov/sujata.html retrieved on 20 April 2007.
Canagarajah, A. S. (1999), Resisting Linguistic Imperialism in English
Teaching. Oxford: OUP.
(2005a), Reconstructing local knowledge, reconguring language studies, in A. S. Canagarajah (ed.), Reclaiming the Local in Language Policy
and Practice. London and New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates,
pp. 324.
(ed.) (2005b), Reclaiming the Local in Language Policy and Practice.
London and New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Circular 2003/18, Teaching in English medium, Ministry of Human
Resources Development, Education and Cultural Affaires, Battaramulla,
Sri Lanka.
David, M. K. and Govindasamy, S. (2005), Negotiating a language policy
for Malaysia: local demand for afrmative action versus challenges from
globalization, in A. S. Canagarajah (ed.), Reclaiming the Local in
Language Policy and Practice. London and New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum
Associates, pp. 123146.
Dharmadasa, K. N. O. (ed.) (1996), National Language Policy in Sri Lanka: 1956
to 1996. Three Studies in its Implementation. ICES Occasional Papers 6.
Kandy, Sri Lanka: International Centre for Ethnic Studies.
Fernando, S. (2008). When is a hall a hole?: issues and guidelines in
Sri Lankan English pronunciation, in D. Fernando and D. Mendis (eds),
English for Equality, Employment, and Empowerment. Selected Paper
from the 4th International Conference of the SLELTA. Colombo Sri Lanka.
August 2006. Colombo: SLELTA, pp. 7182.
Gamage, S. (2008), Right to education is meaningless without accountability in
the public education sector, LST Review, 18 (248), 18.
Guillen, M. F. (2001), Is globalization civilizing, destructive or feeble?
A critique of ve key debates in the social science literature, Annual
Review of Sociolinguistics, 27, 23560.
Gunesekera, M. (2005), The Post-Colonial Identity of Sri Lankan English.
Colombo, Sri Lanka: Katha Publishers.
Halpe, A. (2007), Fifty years of language policy in Sri Lanka the state of the
English language, Dialogue (NS), 34, 105109.
Henry, M., Lingard, B., Rizvi, F. and Taylor, S. (1999), Working with/against
globalization in education, Journal of Education Policy, 14 (1), 8597.
IRQUE website, at www.irque.lk retrieved on 16 May 2007.
Little, A. (2000), Primary education in Sri Lanka: Towards a distinct identity, in A. Little (ed.), Primary Education Reform in Sri Lanka. Battaramulla,
Sri Lanka: Educational Publications Department, pp. 1535
Lo Bianco, J. (1999), Training Teachers of Language and Culture. Melbourne:
Language Australia.


Globalization and English Teaching in Sri Lanka

McCarty, T. L. and Zepeda, O. (1999), Amerindians, in J. Fishman (ed.),

Handbook of Language and Ethnic Identity. New York: OUP, pp. 197210.
Ministry of Education, Sri Lanka (2003a), Historical overview of education in
Sri Lanka, at http://www.moe.gov.lk/modules.php retrieved on 16 May 2007.
(2003b), Teaching in English Medium. (Circular No: 2003/18).
Ministry of Tertiary Education and Training, Sri Lanka. (2003), Improving Relevance and Quality of Undergraduate Programs (IRQUE). Quality
Enhancement Program. (Guidelines for Comprehensive Proposal Submission).
Colombo, Sri Lanka: Ministry of Tertiary Education and Training
Obeng, S. G. and Adegbija, E. (1999), Sub-Saharan Africa, in J. Fishman (ed.),
Handbook of Language and Ethnic Identity. New York: OUP, pp. 353368.
Phillipson, R. (1992), Linguistic Imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Rajagopalan, K. (2005), The language issue in Brazil: When local knowledge
clashes with expert knowledge, in A. S. Canagarajah (ed.), Reclaiming the
Local in Language Policy and Practice. London and New Jersey: Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates, pp. 99122.
Rajapakse, S. (2008), The human right to education of the Vanniyala-Etto community (the forest dwellers) in Sri Lanka as an empowerment right, LST
Review, 18 (248), 1632.
Ranaweera, M. (2000), Donors and primary education, in A. Little (ed.),
Primary Education Reform in Sri Lanka. Battaramulla, Sri Lanka: Educational Publications Department, pp. 190202.
Tambiah, S. J. (1992), Buddhism Betrayed?: Religion, Politics, and Violence in
Sri Lanka. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.
The World Bank (2007), Sri Lanka Country Overview, World Bank website,
at http://web.worldbank.org/ retrieved on 16 May 2007.


Pedagogy, Culture and

Globalization in India
Viniti Vaish

Chapter summary
This chapter, based on a critical ethnography, analyses the processes and outcomes of recent ELT policy in India: English medium
education for the urban disadvantaged in government schools. It
points to the shortcomings of the postcolonial lens in analysing ELT
in India, a theoretical argument outlined in the introduction to this
book. Based on evidence from a government school in Delhi the
author shows the strengths and weaknesses of ELT pedagogy while
emphasizing the former. She explores how culture can impede pedagogical reform and how some students overcome this impediment.
The chapter takes a positive stance towards the way globalization is
manifested in the lives of the community in focus.

The processes of globalization were unleashed in India in 1991. According to Das (2002) that was the year that P. V. Narasimha Rao, Indias
Prime Minister, implemented policies to restructure the economy
from a socialist model to a more market-driven one. An indirect consequence of this is that now there is a tremendous demand for English
linked to new sectors of employment emerging in metropolitan areas.
Key among these sectors are those related to types of Business Processes Outsourcing (BPOs), like call centres, which are proliferating all
over Delhi and its satellite cities. The demand for human resource in
these sectors far exceeds supply consequently they are trying to recruit
English-educated bilinguals from all social classes including the urban
The surging demand for English has brought about a bottom-up
change in the traditional Three Language Formula (TLF), Indias language in education policy. The TLF mandates that all school-going
children will learn three languages: their mother tongue, English, and
either a classical language (e.g. Sanskrit) or another regional standard
language which is not the mother tongue of the child. Instead of offering

Pedagogy, Culture and Globalization in India

English only in secondary school, as required by the TLF, government

schools in Delhi are offering English from nursery itself as one of the
media of instruction. More importantly, though in the TLF English was
taught as a second language, it is now being used as one of the media of
instruction in a dual-medium program. Before this change in language
in education policy, only fee-paying private schools offered 12 years of
English medium education. These changes have enormous implications
for teacher training, textbook creation, building teacher capacity and,
of course, pedagogy. This is the story of English language pedagogy in
one such school in Delhi: the Rajkiya Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalay (State
Sarvodaya Girls School, henceforth RSKV) located in East Vinod Nagar.
The RSKVs are a chain of government schools run by Delhi Administration which service the poorer sections of the metropolis. There are
250 Sarvodaya Schools in Delhi. These along with 1,840 other government primary schools run by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, and
other government schools like the Kendriya Vidyalayas, provide education for 75 per cent of Delhis children (Delhi: Human Development
Report, 2006).
Though there is a wealth of literature on the politics of English
in India (DasGupta, 1993; Annamalai, 2001; Viswanathan, 1989;
Krishnaswamy and Burde, 2004), data-rich classroom studies of
English language pedagogy among diverse social strata are not prolific in international journals. For instance studies like those of Tickoo
(1996) and Khubchandani (2003) are valuable insights into how bilingual children learn English but without the illustration of transcripts
from classrooms. A few exceptions are Vaish (2005; 2008) who works
on government schools and Bhattacharya, Gupta, Jewitt, Newfield,
Reed and Stein (2007). Vaishs work analyses one of the latest language
in education changes that is taking place in India due to globalization:
English as medium of instruction in dual-medium education. This
change is taking place in government schools which service the majority of Indian children. Bhattacharya, Gupta, Jewitt, Newfield, Reed and
Stein (2007) explore the textual cycle at three sites, Delhi, Johannesburg
and London, in Grade 9 English classrooms. The textual cycle refers
to the selection of texts, and the pedagogic processes and practices
within which texts are embedded and through which they are realized
by individual teachers (p. 466). The lessons observed in Delhi are from
an English medium government school which services disadvantaged
children, many of whom are from the lower castes.
Ramanathans (2005) work is both highly political, situated in postcolonial theory, and founded on data from college English classes in
the state of Gujarat in Western India. Though Ramanathans book does
not use the national school system as a site of data collection I am

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

reviewing it here because Ramanathans topic is the same as mine: ELT

pedagogy and its cultural and political implications. However English
in tertiary education does not touch the lives of the majority of Indians
as only about 7 per cent of Indians enrol in colleges (Grigorenko, 2007).
For the rest formal education comes to an end by Grade 12 after which
they enter the workforce. Though she also emphasizes the way practitioners try to bridge the chasms between English medium and Vernacular medium education in tertiary education, Ramanathans story
is essentially one about the divisive nature of English along the lines
of class, caste and gender. For instance she points out that since many
undergraduate courses, especially in the natural sciences, are offered
only in English medium in Gujarat, those students who come from Vernacular medium schools find it difficult to cope and many drop out.
Ironically, given the fact that only 7 per cent of Indians reach college,
Ramathan is looking at a privileged social class despite the fact that
some of them have come into tertiary education through the vernacular
medium stream.
My stance is that globalization in India is providing more equitable access to the linguistic capital of English through the subsidized
national school system than has been the case in the past. I take this
stance despite enormous challenges facing the new 12-year ELT policy
initiative and the fact that this change is only being implemented in the
major metropolises and not in rural India. The argument herein concurs
with Kumaravadivelu (2002) that English language education in India
must no longer be looked at from the postcolonial lens which makes
it a colonial language. Rather, when looked at from the perspective of
globalization, English is an empowering tool which allows the urban
disadvantaged earlier and longer access to linguistic capital. However,
Kumaravadivelus (2002) essay does not provide any data or acknowledge the latest change in the TLF which is an egalitarian initiative to
supply English to the majority instead of gate-keeping it for the middle
classes. In a similar position Rubdy (2008) summarizes both the postcolonial and globalization theoretical foci well. She comments that the
former presents a doom and gloom picture of English in India whereas
the latter supports a more positive view.
The main difference between colonization and globalization, in terms
of English language education in India, is that though in the former it
was a top-down language policy, in the latter it is a bottom-up demand.
Macaulays ubiquitous comment that through English medium education in India he wanted to create a workforce of petty functionaries who
were English in habits has been quoted extensively precisely because
of the postcolonial lens to which Indian sociolinguists are particularly
partial. This prevents them from shifting the gaze to more important

Pedagogy, Culture and Globalization in India

changes taking place in India and, to put it simply, just moving on.
As the economist Gurcharan Das (2002) points out, one of the main
contributions of globalization is that it is increasing the size of the middle class by including more English-knowing bilinguals from disadvantaged sections of society.
What remains a challenge is improving the quality of education so
that students can truly benefit from the extra 6 years of ELT. Hannum
and Fuller (2006) show that in the field of the Sociology of Education
there are studies demonstrating that social class and not school reform
is the main reason for differential academic achievement and life pathways. However they also emphasize that there are equally convincing
studies that point towards school reform that can break the deterministic constraints of social class. This chapter is a story about how students are trying to break this cycle of social reproduction.

Site and data collection

The RSKV, East Vinod Nagar
The RSKV of East Vinod Nagar is located on a main road immediately after a bustling market, two Hindu temples and a large Gurdwara
(place of worship for Sikhs). Facing the school are government housing blocks and behind the school a labyrinth of lanes constituting the
Mandavalli slum. The only transport into these narrow lanes, where
most of the children who attend this school live, is a cycle rickshaw
or a two wheeled scooter. The RSKV has two streams: the Hindi and
English medium. There are two sections for each class, A and B, one
Hindi and the other English medium. For the English medium classes,
Science, Maths and English are in English and Hindi and Social Studies
(SSt) are in Hindi. For the Hindi medium sections Science and Maths
are also in Hindi and the children study English as a second language
thrice a week. The teachers of the A and B sections of one class are considered partners and divide the subjects among themselves. The home
language of most of the children is standard Hindi though some speak
either Punjabi, or a dialect of Hindi. The Muslim children speak mainly
Urdu and Punjabi at home. From class 6 to 12 the students have to take
a third language which is taught every day for 40 minutes. The RSKV
offers a choice of Sanskrit, Urdu and Punjabi as third languages.
The children who attend the RSKV live in the slums of Mandavalli.
Only a few come from government housing in front of the school. The
household income of the children in such schools is about Rupees
5,000 per month (USD 100/mo). The fathers of the children, most of
whom have had education till secondary school, are involved in work

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

like chauffeuring, carpentry or other skilled manual labour. Many of

the mothers have not had formal schooling; some have had schooling
till secondary school. A sizable number of children are first generation
learners and neither of their parents have had formal schooling.

Data collection
I collected data from the RSKV from January 2000 till December 2006.
The data consist of observations of 26 lessons in all the grades for a varying number of hours (a double period is nearly 2 hours; revision classes
dont have a set time). As least one English language lesson in each of
the grades from 112 was observed. In addition there are 30 interviews
with parents, teachers, students, policymakers, and agents/management
in one call centre, each ranging from half an hour to about 1 hour. The
data are in the form of audio and video files, field notes, photos, literacy
artefacts in and out of the classroom, training materials from the call
centre, and text books with students notes written in.

Presentation of transcripts
My method of transcription is based on Johnstone (2000) in that I look
at broad patterns in teacher and student talk. Johnstone (2000: 115)
calls this the play script way of transcribing where the minutiae of
conversation like overlaps or latching have been omitted. Transcription
is always a partial representation of talk because it involves choices
on both practical and theoretical bases. This way of transcribing the
excerpt makes it look as if one person had spoken at a time, waiting
to start until the last person was finished and there was a pause
(Johnstone, 2000: 115). The reason for this choice in transcription is
because the focus of my attention is on broad patterns in pedagogy
discernable from large data sets for which, as Johnstone emphasizes,
microscopic Conversational Analysis is not suitable. In each of the
three transcripts that follow Hindi is transliterated in italics, English
is shown in standard font and translations are in brackets. The reader
should keep in mind that transliteration of Hindi in Roman script is not
standardized. All names are pseudonyms.

Describing pedagogic practice

Transcript 1: 8 April 2004, Grade 3
Mrs. Amarjeet is teaching Grade 3 a lesson from their English text
book called Keep Fit Miss. The lesson is about a girl called Cheena

Pedagogy, Culture and Globalization in India

who has been selected for the school play but falls sick before the final

Mrs. Amarjeet

Main read karoongi. Aap sunna. Main Hindi mein

bhee bolongi. Theek hia? Samajh mein aa gaya?
Baat nahin karoge. Bas sunoge.
Keep fit miss
(I will read. You listen. I will also speak in Hindi.
OK? Have you understood? No talking. Only
listening. Keep fit miss.)


Keep fit miss

Mrs. Amarjeet

I have


I have

Mrs. Amarjeet

Good news


Good news

Mrs. Amarjeet

Mere paas ek achchi khabar hai. Cheena aai

aur boli Mummy Mummy ek achchi khabar hai.
What is it?
(I have good news. Cheena came and said,
Mummy Mummy, there is good news.
What is it?)

Transcript 2: 15 October 2005, Grade 12

Mrs. Renu, English teacher for Grade 12 (Commerce stream) is teaching
essay writing. She has chosen a topic from an article in The Times of
India on how the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is planning to go soft in marking spelling mistakes in the upcoming exams.
CBSE will concentrate more on content. The assignment is to write
an essay, called guided composition by the teachers in RSKV, on this

Mrs. Renu

I have already given you verbal inputs. Actually this

topic is related to these children only. Achcha aur
kisne kiya hai (yes and who has done this)? So let
us discuss this topic. So you are a reporter from
The Times of India and now you have to write that


Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

report to jo headings maine aapko diye the . . .

(so those headings that I had given you . . .)


Mrs. Renu

She turns to the board and starts to write the

As a group of overlapping voices the class gives her
the headings.
Now as a reporter we had a discussion. And what
were the parts of the discussion? Uske aapko jo
verbal inputs diye the those were . . . first kyat tha?
Ye hammara introduction part hua. Ok? The report
will be done in three parts. That is the introductory
part. Introduction. Introduction is nothing but the
title. Aapne koi bhi topic le liya . . . Iske baad jo
aapka ayega . . . Next part would be content. So you
write the name of the reporter over here. Uske baad
New Delhi. Thiik hai? Yahaan likhne ke baad line
lagaa deni hai. Ye jo hai, this part carries . . . Yeh
aapka one mark ka hota hai. Uske baad jo aapka
main part hai . . . this is the content. Yeh aapka
main part hai. Aur iske marks hote hain, content
ke, 4 marks hote hain. Thiik hai? Expression carries
5 marks. Total 10 marks.
(Now as a reporter we had a discussion. And what
were the parts of the discussion? For that you were
give verbal inputs and those were . . . what was
the first? This is our introduction part. OK? The
report will be done in three parts. That is the
introduction part. Introduction. Introduction is
nothing but the title. You can take any topic . . .
after this you will have . . . next part would be
content. So you write the name of the reporter
over here. After that New Delhi. OK? After this
you must draw a line. This is the part that carries . . .
this is for 1 mark. This is your content part.
And for this the marks are, for content, there are
4 marks. OK? Expression carries 5 marks.
Total 10 marks)

Transcript 3: 17 October 2006, Grade 11

In this transcript Mrs. Charu is teaching Grade 11 a lesson from the
English text book about Albert Einstein. This transcript, which is from
a video, is coded for the wait time of the teacher.

Pedagogy, Culture and Globalization in India

Mrs. Charu

And what did he tell him?

Silence: 3 seconds
What did he tell him?
Silence: 10 seconds
Bolo (Speak)
Silence: 8 seconds
What did he say?
Silence: 3 seconds
Did he compliment him? Did he say well done?
You have given a very honest answer? Instead
what did he say?
Silence: 3 seconds
Look in your books and tell.


Get your father to take you out of the school.

Mrs. Charu


Haan (yes). Get your father to take you out of the

school. And ask him to follow the Albert Einstein
theory of education. So when he says that what is
he doing?
Silence: 18 seconds.
Kya tone adopt kar rahaa hai? Kiss tone mein baat kar
rahaa hai vo? Shabaashi de rehaa hai?
(What tone is he adopting? What tone is he talking in?
Is he congratulating the child?)
No Maam.

Mrs. Charu


To kya kar rehaa hai? Ek word use kia hai usne. Lekhak
ne ek word use kia hai. Startingwith s.
(So what is he saying? He has used a word. The writer
has used a word. Starting with s.)
Silence: 5 seconds.
Top line mein word hai. Kya word hai?
(In the top line. What is the word?)

Mrs. Charu

Sarcasm. What is sarcasm?

Student 2

Gussa, naraazgi
(anger, anger)

Mrs. Charu

Gussa, naaraazgi kuch aur? Ek mocking tone istemaal

karne ki koshish kar reha hai. Taunt karne ki koshish
kar rehaa hai. Isnt it? Agar teacher directly aapko
gusse mein kuch bolta hai, uska meaning kuch aur
hota hai. Agar teacher kuch aur tone mein baat karta
hai . . . agar aap properly dress up hoke nahi


Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

aaye. Aapke baal nahin bane hain. Agar teacher bole

badi heroine ban ke aayi ho. Is it the same as directly
scolding the child? Its not. That is sarcasm.
(Anger, anger, anything else? He is trying to use a
mocking tone. He is trying to taunt. Isnt it? If the
teacher says something directly to you in anger that
has a different meaning. If the teacher speaks in a
different tone . . . If you have not come properly
dressed. Your hair is not combed. If the teacher says
you have come like a heroine. Is it the same as
directly scolding the child? Its not. That is sarcasm.)

Discussing culturally contextualized pedagogy

Choral recitation
In Transcript 1, where Mrs. Amarjeet is teaching Grade 3, from turns 16
(and onwards in my full transcript) the class is engaged in choral recitation. This recitation is loud, high pitched and its echoes ring through
the verandahs of the school signifying an on-task class. In an interview at
the end of this lesson Mrs. Amarjeet described her pedagogy. She tells the
class to read the lesson at home but most of them do not do so. Because
the children do not hear any English in their homes and neighbourhoods
Mrs. Amarjeet insists on this reading practice so that students can hear
the pronunciation and model it after her through choral recitation.
From the perspective of ELT in communities where English is taught
and learned as a first language choral recitation might look like mindless chanting without comprehension. However, this is a culturally
situated pedagogy that is ecologically harmonious with the contexts
of biliteracy that the children bring to the classroom (Hornberger,
2003). In the oral-literate continuum, which is part of the media of
biliteracy, both ends are highly respected in the Indian context. The
Vedic and Koranic traditions valorize correct pronunciation and chanting of shlokas or verses. In Amarjeets classroom we see a pedagogic
practice that is rooted in a 5,000 year old tradition of chanting and learning which in this case is practising enunciation through repetition.
Thus Alexander (2000) rightly comments that there is a longevity in
culturally situated pedagogies that can be seen in many countries even
in todays classrooms. Martha Wright (2001) finds a similar pedagogy
in the Grade 1 and 2 classrooms of Ghinda, Eritrea, and concludes that
analysing such a practice from a Western lens is not constructive. Pedagogic practice of choral recitation, according to Wright, allows the children to practice new words, encourages discipline, fosters camaraderie

Pedagogy, Culture and Globalization in India

and creates a non-evaluative forum where the child is not scared to

practice saying new words.
No doubt there are differences between the pedagogy of choral recitation in ELT and learning through the chanting of shlokas in Sanskrit. One
of the differences is that perfect pronunciation is imperative in Sanskrit.
According to the Vedas if the shlokas are pronounced correctly then they
have immense power, to the extent that they can make a god or goddess appear. Amarjeet is not correcting the pronunciation of the children;
however she is providing a forum for children, who hardly use English
outside the classroom, to practise saying and hearing English words.

Simultaneous translation is central to pedagogy in the primary classes.
This practice changes in the higher classes showing a systematic developmental sequence. In Transcript 1, turn 7, Mrs. Amarjeet interrupts
the rhythm of the recitation and translates what the children have
just recited. Mrs. Amarjeet has already assured her class in turn 1 that
Main Hindi mein bhee boloongi meaning I will also translate/speak in
Hindi. Throughout this lesson Amarjeet keeps interrupting the recitation to translate.
Ramanathan (1999) has pointed out that the pedagogy of translation disenfranchises students as it inhibits communicative competence
which is a requirement of the workplace. Though this argument is
borne out my research, the situation is complex because the pedagogy
valorizing translation is the result of culturally contextualized teacher
belief. The following comment by Mrs. Dhingra, a high school English
teacher, elucidates this:

Im in favor of translation method. . . . Go from known to unknown. But you

cannot go from unknown to known. Small communication is OK. Whats
your name. My name is . . . Rattafication* can be done at this level. But
not when you have to answer why questions. I tell you even though our
girls are passing English by taking 35 marks or 38 marks but they cannot
utter even a single sentence of their own. They cannot face any interview
because they dont think in English. But they know how to think in Hindi.
If they know how to translate that would have been better for them. I dont
think in government school we can do without translation method.
(March 15, 2005).
* Hybrid word made from ratta in Hindi meaning rote learning fused with the
English suffix fication. Such hybrid words are common in the informal speech of
HindiEnglish bilinguals.


Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

Here Mrs. Dhingra explains why she uses the translation method. She
says that students find it easier to go from the known which in this
case is Hindi, to the unknown English. Her view of rote learning is
that it can aid in simple communicative events. However if the student
is asked a why question, which is a more challenging communicative event, rote learning is not adequate. Here translation can be quite
helpful as the student can think through the answer in Hindi and then
translate. This is the pedagogy of postmethodism in which teachers
develop their own pedagogical paradigms given the cultural contexts
within which they have to work (Kumaravadivelu, 1994). More importantly postmethodism ruptures the role relationship between theorizers
and practitioners by . . . encouraging teachers to theorize from their
practice. . . (Kumaravadivelu, 2002: 56), which is what Mrs. Dhingra
is doing.
One of the challenges for this new English medium policy for
schools is the competence of the teacher herself. Though Mrs. Charu
has excellent fluency in Hindi and English, Mrs. Dhirgra is not so confident in English though both are Trained Graduate Teachers (TGTs).
Mrs. Dhingra admits:
Mein jhooth nahin boloongi. Kuch words mejhe bhi nahi samajh
mein aate. Antaryami to hum bhi nahin hain. I used to keep a dictionary with me. (March 15, 2005)
(I will not lie. Some words even I dont know. I am not the all
knowing. I used to keep a dictionary with me.)

However, even teachers who are fluent in English, like Mrs. Charu,
agree with the recommendations of Mrs. Dhingra about using the translation method.

Mother tongue as resource

There is no simultaneous translation in the high school classes of
Mrs. Renu and Charu (Transcripts 2 and 3) as there is in the primary
class of Mrs. Amarjeet (Transcript 1). However, Hindi is used in higher
classes to explain key lexical items. For instance in Transcript 3
Mrs. Charu thinks it is important for the class to know the exact meaning of the word sarcasm. In turn 8 the class has offered two words as
synonyms of sarcasm, one in Hindi (Gussa) and one in Urdu (Naraazgi)
both of which mean anger. Mrs. Charu does not accept this. In turn
9 she switches to Hindi and weaves a narrative about a girl who comes
to school untidily dressed and is taunted by her teacher. Through this
narrative Mrs. Charu leads her class to a more precise meaning of the
word sarcasm. This pedagogy of emphasizing word meanings is also

Pedagogy, Culture and Globalization in India

documented by Bhattacharya et al. (2007). The easing off of simultaneous translation from primary to high school in the RSKV shows a
change in pedagogy as teachers try to match the enhanced listening
skills of the learner.

Teacher centredness
The teacher frontedness of these classrooms is apparent from the fact
that the students do not produce extended oral narratives, ask detailed
questions in either Hindi or English or control classroom talk. For
instance in Transcript 1 Mrs. Amarjeet controls and guides student
talk through choral recitation. In the interview soon after this class
Mrs. Amarjeet explains that after she has translated the entire lesson
in Hindi, she makes the children underline the difficult words, gives
them the Hindi meanings of the words and makes them memorize the
same. Thereafter she starts the question and answers. First she translates the question and supplies the answer in Hindi. Then she writes
the answers on the board in English and makes the children copy into
their notebooks. In this literacy practice the children make numerous
mistakes which she corrects. Finally Mrs. Amarjeet makes the class
memorize the answers (8 April 2004).
Similarly in the case of writing a composition Mrs. Renu has full
control. In Transcript 2 she tells the class how they must approach this
essay. In turn 1 the first point Mrs. Renu makes is about the writers
voice emphasizing that they must assume the persona of a reporter. She
goes on to write the main parts of the essay on the board which she has
already supplied to the class in the form of verbal inputs. In turn 2
Mrs. Renu explains what should be the parts of the essay down to the
minutest detail. She tells the class how they must write their name and
where they must draw a line. All this the class copies into their note
books. She emphasizes the marks for each part of the essay so that the
class can prepare accordingly.
This guided composition is very different from process writing
where the student has ownership and control of her writing. The reasons why process writing is not possible in schools like the RSKV were
explained to me by Mrs. Charu (October 18, 2006). Most of the composition topics that appear in the exam are available in the form of
readymade study guides, many of which are full of grammatical and
content errors. The students buy these guides where all the questions
are answered, then memorize and regurgitate them in the exam. Given
this literacy practice which is entrenched among students Mrs. Charu
prefers to do the guided composition in class. In this method though
all the key points in the content of the essay and the main vocabulary

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

are provided by the teacher the students do write the composition by

themselves. Thus they learn more and produce a better essay than they
would have had they only used study guides.
Using process writing in classes like those of the RSKV will disenfranchise and alienate the children as From the point of view of these student
groups and communities, process methods are based on the linguistic
needs of the dominant community (in L1 contexts) whose students have
the required codes/skills and simply need to develop higher level skills
of usage through active interaction and participation (Canagarajah,
2002: 139). Similarly Delpit (2001) rightly points out that children in
disadvantaged groups lack the physical resources, like the requisite texts
and audio-visual aids, and the very codes required to participate in such
pedagogies. Thus they first need a firm grounding in basic skills, which
may in fact be through product-oriented literacy practices.
There is minimal student participation in the RSKV classrooms. In
Transcript 3 I have coded the wait time of the teacher to show that
though she has adequate wait time, the students still do not participate. In turn 1 of this transcript Mrs. Charu asks, And what did he
tell him?, referring to what the teacher said to Albert Einstein. Despite
waiting first for 3 seconds, then repeating the question and waiting for
10 seconds, Mrs. Charu does not get a response. She does not get the
desired response even after she gives a prompt in Hindi, bolo (speak),
which signals that she is open to answers in any language, and waits
for another 8 seconds. At this point she offers a list of possible answers
in the form of questions: Did he compliment him? etc. and then gets a
short oral response from a student who reads a line from the text book.
Teacher centredness is part of Indian pedagogic culture where the
teacher is considered a guru and there is a hierarchical distance between
teacher and student. In the RSKV the students follow many aspects of
the gurushishya relationship, for instance, in misty winter mornings
I have seen girls sweeping the area between buildings to keep the school
clean as was the practice in gurukuls. Also, it is not uncommon for
teachers to send the students out for various errands like bringing tea.
When a teacher addresses a student in the corridors the child stands
respectfully with her hands behind her back. Mrs. Lalita, a high school
English teacher who has been working in this RSKV for over 10 years,
reports that often ex-students come into the school and touch her feet
as a mark of respect for all the knowledge that she has given them.

Tensions between educational goals and outcomes

Culturally contextualized pedagogies like choral recitation, translation, guided compositions and teacher centredness have the drawback

Pedagogy, Culture and Globalization in India

of not developing communicative competence in students. Mrs. Charu

agrees that the school has not equipped students with communicative
competence for the workplace. The students confirm this as many of
them have told me: Maam hame English aati hai par hum bol naheen
sakte (Maam we know/understand English but cannot speak it). However many of the graduates take an English-speaking course after school
and improve tremendously. Thus according to Mrs. Charu schools like
the RSKV do provide the necessary and sufficient conditions on the
basis of which students with initiative and resources can buy training packages in English communicative competence outside school
(October 17, 2006). As such, since English medium education from primary school onwards is a relatively new policy initiative, Mrs. Charu
thinks it is empowering for disadvantaged students who used to have
access to English only in secondary school.
The English teachers I have interviewed often compare their English
medium with Hindi medium students; the latter start English only in
Grade 6. In these comparisons the teachers report that the 6 extra
years have greatly improved the listening, reading and writing skills
of their English medium students. For instance though they are able
to let go the scaffolding of translation in the higher classes of the
English medium stream, they are unable to do so for the Hindi medium.
The concern of teachers like Mrs. Charu is that despite 6 extra years of
English language learning the government school system is unable to
provide high quality communicative competence in English.

Supplementing English provided by the school

A graduate of the RSKV, Vimla, has taken such an English-speaking
course. Vimlas father, who earns less than Rupees 5,000 per month
(USD 100/mo), is a cook in an Army Officers Mess. Her mother, a
homemaker, has not had formal schooling. When Vimla graduated
from school in 2003 she immediately joined The British School of Language in South Extension, New Delhi. This was a 3-month course and
she joined to improve her spoken English. In The British School of
Language they started with grammar, went on to vocabulary and then
taught spoken English through topic-based group discussions. Vimla
improved a lot while taking the course but thereafter she regressed as
she did not have the opportunity to use what she had learned.
The course cost Rupees 2,500 which Vimla saved from the online
marketing job that she has on weekends. To get this online marketing job Vimla first had to take a computer course. Vimla reports that
the English she has learned in her school is adequate because during
this computer course she did not have any problem understanding the

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

content which was mainly in English though the instructor also used
Hindi when necessary. Vimlas income is currently nearly double that
of her father. She not only helps with the expenses of their house but
also bears the cost of educating her three younger siblings. Though
it is not possible to generalize from this one case, Vimlas story is an
illustration of the empowering nature of language policy in the RSKV
(28, 29 March 2005).
Dev, whose late father was an auto-rickshaw driver, is a computer
operator in the general office of a middle-class condominium in Delhi.
He graduated from the Government Boys Secondary School in Nandnagar. Dev always liked English; it was and still is his favourite subject.
He writes a personal diary in English, and reads The Times of India,
an English daily. As he was not satisfied with his spoken English Dev
joined an English-speaking class for 5 months in St Stephens Hospital where he had a part time job when he was in high school. In this
class he learned to speak English through a text book called English
in Context. Like Vimla, Dev reports that he improved tremendously
in spoken English during those 5 months. However in his current job
all the speaking is in Hindi, though most of his writing is in English,
thus his spoken English has deteriorated. Dev aspires to work in a
bank and is saving up money to take another English-speaking course
(24 September 2005).

Reforming pedagogy
The pedagogies of the RSKV emphasize choral recitation, translation,
the indirect method, and product-oriented literacy in a teacher-fronted
classroom. On the other hand the non-formal sector like The British
School of Language uses different pedagogies like topic-based group
discussions which provided Vimla with communicative competence in
English. There is, though, an issue with the sustainability of this new
found communicative competence because both Vimla and Dev report
that after their course they experienced attrition in their communicative skills.
Despite the fact that English is still largely learned for instrumental
purposes by Indians, its uses have changed. Tickoo (1996) comments
that English is a library language which prepares Indian students for
going on to tertiary institutes; this was certainly true in the previous
decades. As such the pedagogies of the RSKV were perfectly suited to
the students educational needs. However, in a globalizing economy
new employment sectors like Business Processes Outsourcing (BPOs)
and the fast growing fitness industry, all require communicative competence in English.

Pedagogy, Culture and Globalization in India

How can pedagogy in the national school system be reformed when

it is not only entrenched due to teacher belief but also culturally contextualized? Discussing large-scale intervention focused on pedagogical reforms in the District Primary Education Program (DPEP) which
covered almost half the districts in India, Clark comments An outcome
of the cultural constructedness of teacher thinking and teaching is the
embeddedness of practice and its resistance to change (2003: 29). The
DPEP was implemented in 226 districts in 18 states in India. Clarks
paper focuses on intervention in the Kolar district of the southern state
of Karnataka. On the basis of a massive dataset survey results, interviews with 234 teachers and observations of their math and language
lessons, Clark hypothesizes that four cultural constructs underlie pedagogic practice in India: holism, Karmic duty, hierarchy of relationships
e.g. the gurushishya relationship, and a view of knowledge that it is
accumulated then transmitted. A holistic world view accepts regulation and rules of interdependence as the natural order of things. Karma,
a difficult word to translate, refers to a set of duties that every individual must follow in his/her capacity as parent, wife, student, etc. In
this case it is the karma or duty of the teacher towards his/her students
that is in focus.
Of these constructs results of the DPEP show that only holism and
conceptions of karmic duty are conducive to reform while the other
two are resistant to change. Due to a holistic world view teachers are
open to change and are willing to be regulated by the state. They do
not see the intervention as something to be resisted. The intervention
in the DPEP required the teachers to use teaching aids instead of textbooks and introduce tasks which would create an atmosphere of joyful
learning. Though the teachers did this due to the hierarchical nature
of social relations in India, they had a problem in socializing with the
children on an equal footing.
In another program the Central Institute of Education in New
Delhi is trying to reform pedagogy by training teachers in new interactional patterns for the bilingual classroom. In interviews with Professor
Anita Rampal (17, 18 June 2005) I learned that the Central Institute of
Education, at Delhi University runs an innovative program initiated
in 1994 called the Bachelors of Education in Elementary Education.
Dr. Rampals view is that reform in teacher training must be indigenized and grounded in local practices instead of being imported from
English-speaking countries. This bilingual program in English and
Hindi offers courses on language and education and language across
the curriculum which sensitize teacher trainees to linguistic, age and
income disparities in the classroom. In an innovative course called
Theatre in Education, teachers are trained to use gestures and facial

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

expressions in the primary school English classroom to communicate.

Professor Rampal, who has been instrumental in designing the program,
agrees that the mother tongue is essential for the bilingual classroom
and that the teachers of the RSKV are doing a good job. However, she
also asserts that this pedagogy can be improved and recommends that
instead of relying totally on translation, teachers should add theatre to
their pedagogical repertoire to communicate with children.
Teacher training for the primary English class, in a program that
develops communicative competence in the target language and not
merely skills so that English remains a library language, is a challenge
for the Indian education system. There is a need to create pedagogical
realignment because globalization has changed the needs of English
language learners. The needs of learners in postcolonial India, which
had a socialist economy, were not as tightly coupled with the market
as they are now in an era of globalization. At the same time the enduring effects of culture and its resistance to change cannot be ignored.
Research from Hong Kong shows that even after 20 years of communicative language teaching in primary and secondary schools, children in
Hong Kong are not known for their communicative ability in English.
Ironically the pedagogical reasons provided are exactly what I have
found in India: teacher-fronted classrooms valorizing the transmission
mode of knowledge dissemination (Luk, 2005). Thus what is required
is not importing Communicative Language Teaching methodology but
devising new methods based on local knowledge which is what The
Central Institute of Education is attempting.

This chapter has shown how globalization, and its key sub-process for
Applied Linguists, increasing use of English as medium of instruction,
is manifested in the everyday lives of the urban disadvantaged. I have
pointed to the shortcomings of the postcolonial lens in analysing English language education in India because this lens tends to present a
doom and gloom view of the divisive nature of English in India. This
chapter has discussed some of the latest trends in ELT in India with
specific reference to the government school system which services the
urban disadvantaged, and indeed, the vast majority of Indian children.
The specific language in education policy of providing ELT in a dual
medium program in government schools from primary school onwards
is barely 10 years old. The pedagogies are culturally contextualized in
the linguistic ecology of the RSKV; however, the problem is that they do
not lead to the educational outcomes expected by the students and their
parents in terms of communicative competence in English. Graduating

Pedagogy, Culture and Globalization in India

students have to supplement the English provided by the school with

communicative skills, which they learn through non-formal education.
This sociolinguistic situation demands pedagogical realignment, where
pedagogy capitalizes on the strengths of both the communicative and
more traditional methods of ELT. This is a challenge within the national
school system though the Central Institute of Education is making some
progress towards this end.
Though this paper has taken a positive stance towards globalization
with a focus on how this economic process has indirectly resulted in
increased access to the linguistic capital of English, I am well aware
of the limitations herein. First, this increased access is only for the
urban disadvantaged and does not include the rural poor. Secondly, the
cases of Vimla and Dev are not generalizable to all who graduate from
schools like the RSKV. The expectations of disadvantaged children are
that communicative competence will be taught within the school, not
outside. My purpose has been to highlight the good news stories while
keeping the problems in full view.

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Flows of Technology:
Mandarin in Cyberspace
Shouhui Zhao

Chapter summary
Since the mid-1980s a series of language planning (henceforth LP)
measures have been taken in the official discourse to make the
Chinese language (henceforth CL) and its writing system adaptable to the new technological environment. This chapter is about
the impact of globalization on the survival of CL and culture in
the digital era. It focuses on the Chinese governments efforts to
enable CL to keep up with technological developments and making
the traditional heritage, inherent in Chinese characters, flourish in
cyberspace. The outcome of these efforts will determine whether
CL reaches its potential as an international language. This chapter shows that, while on the one hand, globalization has brought
about an unprecedented potential for the spread of CL, on the other
hand, the information technology revolution, the major manifestation of globalization, has posed a serious challenge to CLs growth
in power and influence. Drawing upon the perspectives of LP,
I explore the socio-political and cultural implications intertwined
with the official efforts to tackle the conflict occurring between the
latest technological advances and the worlds oldest surviving writing system.

Globalization is a highly complex process that has made an enormous
impact on multidimensional aspects of human life; one salient aspect of
these dimensions is linguistic life, as the strong globalizing and unifying tendencies of social and cultural life are bound to find their expressions in remaking the prowess of modern language. In this chapter, the
impact of globalization on the digital survival of CL is being examined
for two reasons. On the one hand, globalization has brought about an
unprecedented potential for the spread of CL and culture along with
Chinas rise as an economic and political power. This topic has been
discussed in detail by Goh Yeng Seng and Lim Seok Lai in another
chapter in this book. On the other hand, the technology revolution has

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

posed a serious challenge to CLs growth in power and influence. This

is simply because a language lacking a strong presence in the borderless
information flow cannot be called a language with international influence in an increasingly digitalized world.
Barriers to the growth and spread of CL vary according to different
modes: spoken and written. Although at the turn of the last century
CL has seen a successful transformation from its classical to a modern form through a vernacularization movement, its writing system has
run into a never-ending struggle with the latest technological advances.
Ever since the computers advent, the Chinese IT industry has been
plagued by immense constraints from the deficiencies of the Chinese
character (hanzi) writing system. Specifically, hanzis ineffectiveness
in computer input and online transmission, the major stumbling blocks
for processing information in Chinese, has hindered the development
potential of Chinas IT industry (e.g., Li, 2003). Faced with this technological impasse in an increasingly digitalized world, a number of hurdles concerning the CL writing system must be overcome before it can
become sufficiently computer-friendly to grow beyond its geopolitical
Broadly speaking, the conflict between computers and hanzi occurs
at two levels. The first level concerns modern hanzi that are currently
in use, the so-called characters-in-use. The second level involves
archaic characters, including two major types of characters: one being
paper-based characters, that is, characters existing in classical texts,
which have become obsolete in modern life, also known as characters-in-storage. The other type is the antique scripts, found on a wide
range of non-paper writing mediums such as animal bones, bamboo
slips, stone tablets and metal utensils that were preserved and handed
down through Chinese history, or discovered/unearthed in modern
times. Unlike paper-based characters that have a somewhat standardized form, these antique handwritten characters, albeit their multifarious forms are scattered in a variety of ancient artefacts and objects,
have played a vital role in preserving Chinese traditional heritage and
indigenous knowledge. Thus, making them electronically accessible
in a computer ubiquitous world has attracted increasing interest from
both professional individuals and relevant governmental institutions.
In this chapter, while I will focus on the first-level conflict between
computerization and the modern Chinese hanzi, the more complex
task of digitalizing antique hanzi is also treated as an integral part of
the ongoing efforts of resurrecting and spreading Chinese culture in
cyberspace. Related to this issue, the regional collaborative efforts in
encoding Chinese characters in cyberspace an issue that will affect
Chinese-mediated data transmission over the international network is

Mandarin in Cyberspace

also explored from a multilingual computing perspective. These ideas

are discussed within a language-planning framework in which various countries that use forms of Chinese characters, like China, Japan
and Taiwan, are seen to be in political and cultural conflict with each

Hanzi and technology

Hanzi is a writing system characterized by enormous physical variations, a complex structure and an instability in the total number of characters. These features make the Chinese writing system one of the most
difficult scripts for mechanical application. Its existence and transmission in cyberspace is realized by the two opposing processes of inputting and outputting. The first is a process to input hanzi into computers
through encoding or reproducing either hanzis structural components
or sounds. The other is the outputting process, which involves decoding the input or encoded hanzi digitally, so it can be represented and
viewed or displayed via the optical hardware. To ensure the processing cycle runs efficiently and smoothly, humans are required to abide
by a series of protocols and conventions. For instance, an inaccurate
spelling of the pronunciation or a wrongly placed ordering of hanzi
components would result in reproducing uncommitted characters, or
simply end up as a failed operation. In terms of outputting, if the same
hanzi is represented in different code systems on different application
platforms, the decoding process will be impossible. As will be seen
in the subsequent discussions, this is what is happening to Chinese
character users today, despite great efforts by both Chinese-speaking IT
professionals and their international counterparts in unifying the coding systems developed in the East Asian hemisphere since the 1970s.
In discussing the difficulties encountered in encoding and decoding
hanzi in cyberspace, Zhao and Baldauf (2008) conclude that Chongma
and Luanma are the two main quandaries for hanzi computerization.
The former can be defined as accidental homophonic occurrence in
hanzi computer input, typically found when using phonetic input programs, the dominant input method for entering hanzi into a computer. The latter refers to a string of unintelligible gibberish that occurs
when hanzi are decoded by different platform applications or during
the transmission of Chinese-encoded information over international
electronic telecommunication networks.
Chinese scientists embarked upon the hanzi computer input problem
at the end of the 1970s. It is no exaggeration to say that there is probably
no other country besides China that has spent a comparable amount of
money and brainpower on just inputting its script into the computer.

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

During the 1980s and the 1990s, there were no less than half a million people engaged in devising input schemes, and every fortnight a
new scheme came into being, resulting in an effect of input scheme
pollution (Mair, 1991). As a result, consumers have to choose from a
bewildering variety of schemes if they want to type characters on their
PCs. Various self-defined standards of hanzi, pinyin (the official phonetic transliteration system of Chinese characters in Romanization) and
keyboard arrangements by maverick input scheme devisers have exacerbated public confusion and resentment. As pointed out by Zhao and
Baldauf (2008), it is not uncommon that the same character is described
in different ways in the classroom, in the dictionary and on the keyboard; or that the same hanzi component is named differently by different groups of people. Students feel particularly lost when they are
trying to reproduce characters on the computer with ideograph-based
input programs, because the operating procedure required by software
vendors is different from the writing knowledge and writing convention they were taught in the classroom. Even for more typical phonetic
input systems, or sound-based systems, users hit a snag, because of variability in pronunciation. Understandably, this chaotic state is blamed
on not having a standardized public norm.
This situation of a plethora of co-existing incompatible schemes, each
with its supporters and detractors, has created chaos in the IT industry.
After a confusing situation of nearly a decade during the 1980s and 90s,
the consensus is that without going through considerable optimization
and vigorous standardization, Chinese will not become compatible for
computers. In a digital society, information is seen as a kind of soft
power; language and script issues have never been as relevant to the
national fate as at present. Therefore, language policy that deals with
the standardization of characters has been both a tool and a target of the
nation-building and the modernization processes in China.
In order to combat technological challenges, a major restructuring of
the highest authority in the language administration was undertaken
during the 1980s1990s. A ministerial-level language agency, called
the State Commission of Language Work (SCLW), was established in
1986 to succeed its predecessor, the Commission of Script Reform
(CSR), that existed since the early 1950s. Subsequently, to give the
agency more executive power in enforcement and legislation, its affiliation was transferred from the State Council (Chinese Cabinet) to the
Education Ministry in 1998. Two specialist offices, the Department of
Language and Information Management and the Department of Social
Use of Language and Script, were added, charged with the task of carrying out the LP programs with computer-oriented script standardization
as its core task. Now it has come to a point where no major advances in

Mandarin in Cyberspace

hanzi computerization can be expected until the infrastructural work

about the use of hanzi is done to fine tune its uniformity in structure
and stability in number.
Therefore, to enhance the computability of Chinese characters, Chinas
language administration authorities have been battling with hanzi standardization issues since the mid-1980s. The focus of the standardization
activities has been centred upon the so-called Four Fixations, which
aim at settling the four most unstable attributes of hanzi, namely the
number of hanzi, their ordering, shape and pronunciation. Since the
beginning of the new millennium, national language planners have
dramatically speeded up the pace of hanzi standardization, setting in
motion a quiet revolution. This article focuses on two governmentendorsed projects. One aims to formulate a future-oriented comprehensive table of standardized characters for the general purpose of
improving hanzis all-round qualities through fixing its shape, pronunciation, ordering and the total number. The other is to launch a series of
research programs to overhaul Chinese ancient scripts as a preparation
to digitally represent Chinas visual cultural heritage in cyberspace.

The Comprehensive Table of Standardized

Characters (CTSC) giving Hanzi a
computing environment
The centre of Chinese language administration has been characterized
by a top-down language policy. Over the past half century, to keep CL
and script on track, 101 decisions on the use of language, including
tables/lists, laws, regulations, directives and guidelines, have been
made and issued by governmental LP agencies in conjunction with
other relevant offices (SCLW, 2004). Since 1955, when the First Table
of Verified Characters with Variant Forms was formulated, the central
government of China has produced numerous specialist tables about
hanzi, for instance, the General List of Simplified Characters (1964,
1986, 2,234 characters), and the General List of Print Fonts of Chinese
Characters (1965, 6,196 characters). As Shen (2008) aptly points out,
these tables which have been in use for nearly half a century and
often contradict each other in many ways, but prescribe some standards
that have become outdated are increasingly incompatible with modern society. Moreover, the focus of hanzi standardization has shifted
over the last two decades, let us first look at the transformation from
handwriting to computer processing.
Over recent years, the focus of standardization has moved to the hanzi
as a medium of international telecommunication, a form of globalization requiring not only effective hanzi input, being processed at locales

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

within the polity borders, but also instant dissemination and comprehension in cyberspace. Furthermore, previous government-mandated
standards for hanzi were purely for human convenience. Some discrepancies and irregularities in the composing elements of hanzi are either
minuscule, undetectable differences to the human eye, or they made
no difference in recognition, thanks to contextual tolerance. Nowadays, the way that hanzi function as a written medium has changed,
communication has become less man-centred and more mechanical.
In other words, physical uniformity and stability are prerequisites for
the computer to process characters. As machines are sensitive and poor
at accommodating non-standard elements, they have zero-tolerance
towards divergences and deviations. Even the subtle variations in
hanzis physical make-up can easily result in either a recognition failure,
or create an unnecessary waste of valuable hardware space, essential
for developing stroke-based input schemes. According to statistics (Fei
and Xu, 2004), out of 7,000 characters listed in the Table of Common
Chinese Characters (1988), there are over 400 characters (6%) that need
to be re-standardized if they are to serve the IT industry well. Believing
that the obstruction to the countrys information industry can be partially corrected by linguistic solutions, the Chinese IT community has
been eager to have a table that can technically standardize all aspects
of hanzi, putting a straitjacket on the arbitrary treatment of hanzi structures by software developers.
The ongoing CTSC is actually a summary of the numerous tables and
lists of hanzi, consecutively promulgated by official LP authorities or
technical standard departments. The composition of a complete inventory of hanzi started in earnest as early as the 1960s, but yielded no
final result for the first two attempts due to political interference, and
this is the third time that it has been formally established as the key
LP research project at the national level. Being the foremost national
language task for many years to come, the plan has been implemented
according to well-defined research objectives, an overall framework
and fieldwork operational principles. Since its high-profile inception
in April 2001, task research teams have been in full operation. Nationwide conferences have been organized, pilot projects, such as hanzi for
personal names and geographic names (see Zhao and Baldauf, 2007),
have largely been completed and undergone the final approval process
after completion of opinion solicitation from the public. Furthermore,
a few draft tables of separate standards were presented to academics
across the country for comment (Research Team, 2006). However, the
projected completion by mid-2004 seems to be running much behind
schedule, showing that the difficulty of formulating such a sophisticated character table was much underestimated. This is understandable,

Mandarin in Cyberspace

given the complex nature of hanzi and the Tables significance in the
long term, for not only the graphic life in China proper, but also the
wider implications beyond the geopolitical borders.
The final products of the CTSC should be a complete table, stipulating
the fixed standards for the hanzi sequencing order, graphic shape,
pronunciation, stroke number and order, which are to be listed under
each character. The CTSC, the most significant LP undertaking since
the 1950s, was planned to be formally enacted by the State Council.
Presumably, when formally promulgated, all previous tables of various
standards in conflict with this master table, will become automatically
invalid. With the single clear aim to control the laissez-faire state of the
language-related software market, LP decision-makers hope the fullfledged enforcement of the CTSC is going to push hanzi standards to a
higher level, thereby greatly facilitating Chinese IT development.
Having discussed the Chinese governments dynamic participation
in preparing a computing environment for Chinese characters future
development in digital society through state power, I now turn to
another, even more ambitious LP infrastructure project the Corpus of
Whole Chinese Characters (CWCC).

Corpus of Whole Chinese Characters

(CWCC) encoding the past for the future
As shown earlier, the compilation of the CTSC aims at the computerization of modern hanzi. In a broader sense, however, according to Li Yuming
(2003), Chinese characters in China proper also include: (a) Chinese
ancient scripts (antique characters); (b) about 20 hanzi-derived scripts
of non-Chinese minority languages that have either always existed in
China or are still in limited current use; and (c) a huge number of characters created to transliterate a myriad of regional dialects. Ancient scripts
preserved in voluminous classical texts and other forms of documentation have a very high cultural value. They are inextricable components
of Chinese culture, some perhaps being real gems of Chineseness.
Society is progressing from being paper-based to being computerbased. In this revolutionary transformation, the majority of these three
categories of characters, plus other unorthodox folk hanzi and culturespecific symbols, are facing extinction. This is a serious real-life challenge for Chinese written culture. Unicode, which was born because of
the need to employ a single set of numerical codes to accommodate the
entire worlds scripts digitally, provides Chinese computer specialists
with the hope that a viable solution can gradually be found to overcome
the plight of identifying, processing and viewing all Chinese hanzi on
computers, regardless of their physical complexity. Foreseeing that we

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

are rapidly approaching a Unicode-based society in which a lack of

standards is fatal for the survival of a script system, it was agreed that
the best way of combating the increasing obsolescence of hanzi is to
deal with it through standardization, i.e., to store them in electronic
records by means of building a corpus of whole characters via a unified
set of coding standards.
The implications of traditional visual heritage digitalization would
not be readily comprehended without a reference to the socio-political
context. Traditional heritage was seen as a culprit that needed to be revolutionized prior to and during the Cultural Revolution (19661976).
However, from the 1990s onwards, China has been characterized by its
rising nationalist ideology, and nationalism almost always goes hand in
hand with traditional culture. After discarding orthodox Marxist and
Maoist dogmas, the Chinese Communist Party needed to find a new ideology for the nation. In 1995, former president Jiang Zemin promoted
the preservation of a cultural link between the past and the present.
Encouraged by the Party, the revival of traditional culture has become
fashionable. A number of scholars have made their fortunes by publishing books or delivering public speeches to popularize Confucianism
and other ancient doctrines. With an emerging positive attitude towards
the past roots, popular sentiment of returning to traditional things rose,
and this trend was fuelled by political manipulations that created
blind admiration for everything that had existed in the past. As Bakken
(1999: 6) notes, the Party has in fact returned to the memories of the
Chinese past, old forms of control have been subsequently modernized,
redeployed, augmented and refined in order to bind or stabilize a
potentially disorderly population.
Therefore, the primary thrust behind the renewed interest in established traditions was the official favour attached to emerging nationalist
sentiment. Cultural issues have always played a unique and important
role in shaping the countrys political landscape. Party propagandists
have tried to tighten the reins on society through the glorification of
indigenous cultural achievements and Chinas past greatness. Revitalizing traditional culture is the theme of the Partys Patriotism Education
propaganda campaign, launched in the aftermath of the 1989 Democracy
Movement. On the other hand, after entering the new millennium, as
China basked in the success of economic development, it faced mounting social challenges through the search for cultural identity. In recent
years, the promotion of traditional culture and indigenous knowledge
has seen a transformation from being used as a propagandistic antidote
for counteracting undesired Western influence to serving national identity and cultural values. This also signifies that the forthcoming years
will see a well-regulated exercise to promote traditional culture.

Mandarin in Cyberspace

It is in this context that Li Yuming (2003), Director of the aforementioned Language and Information Management Department, conceived
projects with the aim of building a platform to standardize all Chinese
characters not included in the CTSC, to secure their place in the future
extension of Unicode. Zhao (2005: 365) has observed that the ultimate
aim of the CWCC is to
Assemble all signs and symbols that have ever existed, and then to
standardize them in a systematic framework. It is hoped that one
day, through the overhaul and integration into an international
standard, scholars will be able to turn all characters from oracle
bones, bronzes, silk and bamboo, into a magnetic and optical format of a Unicode system.

Traditional heritage digitalization includes ancient texts as well as

ancient scripts, and the Chinese mainstream culture of the Han nationality has brought into modern times a gigantic volume of written heritage. This heritage was recorded in different, distinct character shapes;
in many cases, these graphic features carry important and valuable cultural information in their own right. The hanzi form we are using today
took shape in or around 220 CE. The various forms before this, starting from Oracle Bones (17111066 BCE) or even earlier, had developed
over nearly 2,000 years. These embryonic and undeveloped forms of
ancient scripts, archaeological implications aside, still have an extensive presence in modern life; for the general public their artistic value
is important, and for academics they are of etymological significance.
Most of these forms, predominantly oracle bones and bronze inscriptions (1066256 BCE), Zhuan Script and Li Script (206 BCE220 CE),
are unique to certain original sources. The question is how to keep them
alive and readable over the long term, in a computer-based medium
and in their original graphic appearance. If these distinct features are
glossed over by a one-size-fits-all character set designated for information exchange, such irreplaceable cultural treasures will consequently
be lost in cyberspace.
China has achieved a great deal in converting ancient classics into
software media. Hong Kong and Taiwan have also established a sizeable presence on the internet in the field of promoting ancient Chinese
civilization (see, Zhang, 2006 for details). However, all of these efforts,
either dealing with ancient texts or ancient scripts, were accomplished
through their own proprietary platform encodings short of Unicode
support and are, therefore, not readily transmittable across worldwide
networks for end users. For example, according to Wus (2002; 2008)
surveys, there are 90 university institutions within mainland China
that specialize in classical text research, most of them dealing with
text and script digitalization. Moreover, by the end of 2004, more than

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

70 databases of classical text digitalization had been constructed online

(Hao et al., 2007). In addition to this there is a host of companies in
the marketplace that develop software capable of processing ancient
texts by using their own coding systems (e.g., GB, Unicode-based, Big
5, HTML and XML) and file formats (e.g., TXT, DOC, EXE, PDF, WDL,
PDG, EBK, EDB), numbering over 20 coding schemes in all.
In other words, the hanzi digitalized via these format-specific encoding and decoding programs are locale-dependent, thus recognizable
and displayable merely in the platform provided by the developers.
While they are only locally viewable (also printable), they cannot be
universally processed. That is to say, they are not transmittable and
decodable in other applications with different encoding systems over
the internet. As a result of using a multiplicity of coding systems, all
these characters end up as garbage in the course of online transmission,
posing a potential calamity in resource sharing by different end users.
This causes a chaotic situation for their clients and public users, consequently leading to repeated calls by both academics and industrial
professionals for urgently undertaking unification and standardization

Exploring solutions
Unicode, which is rapidly becoming the internet standard, will be the
natural choice to spread these electronic products unrestrictedly. It has,
for the first time, brought all concerned together to work out an initial
agreement on the number and forms of hanzi, and the ways they should
be encoded. The difficulty is, on the one hand, that standardization
is the prerequisite for any script to be unicoded, that is, to establish
code points in Unicode a standardization-oriented overhaul is the
first step to transferring the paper-based data to a magnetic and optical
format (Jordan, 2002). On the other hand, as a pluricentric script, where
the same orthography serves as writing system in more than one polity
(Clyne, 1995), Chinese hanzi have grown into a huge and complex
writing system, used in different geopolitical regions of Asia. As will
be seen later, any proposal for standardization will end up nowhere
without regional and international collaboration and without coordination among all the interest groups and polities. Unfortunately, more
often than not, activities concerning script unification and encoding
standardization collapse into a political abyss, which is why so little
has been accomplished so far.
In light of what has been described above, it is pragmatic to think
that concrete measures must be taken to reach a consensus among the
concerned within China, including IT professionals, Chinese script

Mandarin in Cyberspace

researchers and software vendors. The first step is to study every character or symbol, regardless of whether it is paper-based or non-paperbased. The process involves identification, comparison, categorization,
verification and standardization for encoding purposes (see Liu, 2004).
Unlike the CTSC, which has been well-coordinated by a centralized
leadership and carried out by an ad hoc research team, CWCC, although
launched in 2004 as one of the working agendas of SCLW, seems to be
too ambitious to produce any concrete outcomes in the near future. The
relevant projects have been spread over a number of universities and
research institutions across the country, and they are being carried out
in a piecemeal manner by researchers with a range of academic backgrounds (Research Team, 2006; Liu, 2004). So far only Womens Script
and Taos (Taoism is an indigenous traditional religion of China) hexagram symbols (i.e., ) have been encoded in Unicode. The ambitious
plan of CWCC, characterized by its wholeness and inclusiveness of
marshalling all existing characters, has been conceived on the basis of
a large enough space provided by Unicode, with its new versions (last,
version 5.0) being expanded to a greater coverage of minority scripts
and historical characters.
Technically, the implementation of CWCC will present many unprecedented challenges to Chinese linguistic experts. The first will be what
kind of sorting rules should be applied to put such a large mass of unorganized aggregate signs and symbols into a meaningful framework, so
that they can be conveniently processed by computers. Clearly, there
is a necessity to analyse and categorize every character by application
of typology, which inevitably involves an in-depth investigation of all
stock of ancient texts, both paper-based and non-paper-based. In this
sense, the CWCC is indisputably the most important infrastructure creation ever done for the Chinese writing system.
Nevertheless, because of Chinese hanzis pluricentric nature, the
accomplishment of the standardization within a Chinese visual border is
only half the battle to guarantee trouble-free flow of online information
in Chinese characters. For most nation-based writing systems, standardization can be successfully done without causing much trouble in
relation to legitimacy and ownership, but in pluricentric languages, the
possibility for hostile confrontations arises because of inherent ideological antagonisms or historical complications. On the one hand, Chinese
is a pluricentric language with several interacting centres, each providing a national variety with at least some of its own (codified) norms. On
the other hand, as computer-mediated languages in a digitally designed
linguistic environment know no borders, Chinese character computerization has increasingly become a remarkably multi-national activity
and has reached a level that goes beyond the framework of any single

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

country. This situation naturally leads us to the question of how each

LP authoritys collaborative efforts to meet the needs of international
standards will impact on the complex relationship between these
nation-states. The following topic will deal with this issue.

Pursuing the common script across

cyberspace an international perspective
Common script (shutongwen) is a controversial work, which arouses
passions both historically and currently. The term was first used in
reference to the script unification that occurred after the establishment of the Qin Dynasty (221BCE206 BCE, the first centrally unified
nation-state in Chinese history), when, acting on the tenet one nation,
one script, the previously uncontrolled use of writing was unified in a
highly standardized form called Xiaozhuan (Small Seal Script). Thereafter, all Chinese governments have regarded setting official standards
through state mandate as one of the most important measures to effectively control and rule over the vast Chinese territories. In modern
times, after the simplification movement on the Mainland in the 1950s,
the writing system became polarized across the Taiwan Strait. In political terms, the choice between traditional and simplified forms of characters has been related to the issue of legitimate ownership of Chinese
culture, and traditional characters are seen as more symbolic of Chinese
traditional culture. Therefore, for the Nationalist Party (ruling party of
Taiwan since 1949, except 20002008), which sees itself as the saviour
of Chinese traditional culture and the owner of the national language,
the common script and traditional characters were chosen as a weapon
to culturally reclaim the Mainland. The term shutongwen has thereby
gained political momentum.

The limitation of technology: what Unicode

can and cant do
The fact that the information age is characterized by a rapid move into
the Unicode era gives rise to the hope that the historical aspirations of the
common script can at last be technologically fulfilled in cyberspace, across
the whole region of the so-called hanzi cultural rim, through assigning a
single numerical code to each character that is used in all areas. However,
this seemingly straight forward technical undertaking has proven to be a
political tug-of-war at the interface of cyberspace and politics. Because of
the difference in both state interest and cultural inclinations of the different hanzi-using communities, this difference is intensified by the practical
limitations of the technological handling process.

Mandarin in Cyberspace

Regional disparities of hanzis shape in major hanzi-dependent polities are well-known. For instance, there are visible differences among
Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong/Macau on the one hand, due
to ideological reasons, and between these three Chinese-speaking polities and Japan and Korea on the other, because of the different linguistic environment. Apart from structural differences in hanzis physical
make-up (e.g., complex form vs simplified form), another important
difference lies in their handling of the several variant forms of the
same character having the same or similar meaning and pronunciation, known as yitizi. Absolute yitizi are purely duplicates without any
functional role in semantic and/or phonetic differentiation from their
standard counterparts; however, a large number of them were created to
signify discernible but subtle semantic or phonetic dissimilarities born
out of the requirement of meeting accuracy in expression. Therefore, as
Zhao and Zhang (2008) have argued, doing away with yitizi is in effect
a matter of striking a balance between the distinctness in meaning and
the cutback in number. Peoples perceptions and tolerance of yitizi can
contribute to the amalgamation/differentiation of yitizi, resulting in a
big difference in character set standards for information processing or
dictionary/character listing. In some dictionaries, yitizi can account for
40 per cent of the total. For example, of 47,035 characters in the Kangxi
Dictionary (1716), over 20,000 are yitizi. During the aforementioned
character optimization exercise in the 1950s, 1,053 carefully selected
yitizi were eliminated from the First Table of Variant Forms in 1956
(some 26 have been restored since then). In other polities, however,
language planners are very conservative in their treatment of yitizi as
compared to the radical view of their Chinese counterparts.
This kind of human attitudinal difference permits the development
of various character sets in cyberspace that are independent of each
other, with little mutual awareness of the problem in the different countries. GB231280 (official standard in China, 6,367 characters) and Big
Five (industry standard in Taiwan, 13,060 characters) are the two character sets for information exchange that are most used in the Chinese
world. Both were projected to serve the general public; however, the
latter features twice as many characters as the former, and the roughly
72,000 encoded unique ideographs constitute by far the largest chunk
of Unicode (Bishop and Cook, 2007).
From the 1980s to the 1990s, requirements from Unicode, concerning
the computer-designated standard, have spurred a flurry of activities in
formulating hanzi standard encoding sets from different governments
in adjacent countries in the East Asia region, including Mainland China,
Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and Vietnam. They share, on the one
hand, commonalities in script issues and similar cultural backgrounds;

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

on the other hand, each is characterized by a different political system,

economic structure and social development. Over 20 Chinese character
sets for information exchange were released by governmental authorities and major computer industries around the East Asian region, but no
single encoding system was versatile enough to allow the reliable representation of all what Mair (1991) called Sinographic signs encoded in
even a few of the finite number. Unifying these encoded standards calls
for input from Unicode experts, IT engineers, language educators and
linguistics researchers. In due course, it will inevitably involve more
fundamental and complex socio-political factors.
In contrast to peoples expectations of unity in cyberspace, it
appears that the wider use of computers and the internet has not
overcome the physical differences of hanzi. Rather, as a result of
differentiating emphasis, all developers have promoted their own
features and identity when drawing up their standards; thus, differences in the national character sets of each individual country
are being perpetuated. The large number of pre-existing standards
in East Asia was perhaps the most complex aspect that the Unicode
consortium had to deal with, underpinning the need for compatibility with existing character standard sets through what was called
Han (Chinese character) unification an international standardization activity to unify all of the Chinese character sets into a single
large character set. This can be done through the process of assigning single code points to the characters, with the resulting repertoire
of coded ideographs referred to as Unihan.
To carry out Han unification, two international organizations,
composed of IT experts from hanzi-dependent polities, were set up
consecutively: the Chinese/Japanese/Korean Joint Research Group
(CJK-JRG), in 19901993, and the Ideographic Rapporteur Group
(IRG), after 1993. These two organizations had to work with the over
20 character sets and telegraphy codes introduced by the USA, Taiwan,
China, Japan and Korea, which existed when Han unification
started. In total, 121,403 characters were encoded in these standard
sets. Unicode applies two rules to identify a valid character in their
Han unification efforts: the Han Unification Rule and the Source
Separation Rule, as outlined in the various versions of the Unicode
working principles. The former is a process of eliminating redundant characters, through merging of characters that have identical
or near identical structures and the same meanings, so more of the
otherwise wasted space can be freed up. The source separation rule
states that unification of two characters cannot take place if they
have different encodings within a single standard set source (in the
case of CJK, there are four sources from which the Unicode hanzi set

Mandarin in Cyberspace

is derived). Ken Lunde (1999: 4953), manager of CJKV Type Development at Adobe Systems, gives the following example to illustrate
the separation rules: the Japanese character (ken in Japanese and
jian in Chinese) has five yitizi (variant forms): , each
having its own unique encoded position in JIS X 0208-1990 (one of
the above-mentioned 20 standards), and as such, they are not unified. Source separation ensures that the characteristics of any characters are not glossed over round-trip conversions for cross-locale
Unicode fonts.
Considering the immensity and complexity of the work to identify
and unify such a large number of characters from so many character
sets, it is not surprising that during the unification process problems
developed. Complaints about over-unification have been frequently
raised by users mostly by users and software developers from the
East Asian cultural hemisphere. Resistance to these changes remains
particularly high in Japan, as the subsequent discussion indicates. One
of the most acute problems is the inability of Unicode to address the
issue of the differences between character and glyph. Glyph is a term
used in typography, referring to a particular graphical representation of
the character; being an element of writing, it is a concrete unit of text
in typography. Unicode encodes characters rather than glyphs. This
means that Han unification unifies the codes for abstract characters
instead of the concrete characters per se (glyph), ignoring the fact that
although the original character in CJK languages may develop from the
same root, the glyphs in common use for that character may be different in evolution. A large number of new characters were independently
invented in each country, some stylistic variations in print or handwriting gradually crystallized into hard irreconcilable difference, as
Cook (2001: 4) observes.
Apart from the technological limitations of Unicode, the separation
rules are just a high conceptual ideal. Due to various reasons, their operating efficiency cannot always be firmly adhered to or strongly enforced.
For example, in many cases, the unification/separation is determined by
the sights of unifiers and the version of the standard used (Wada, 1991).
This means that the appearance of the character in the code tables of a
given version of standard sets plays a role in character identification.
As Zhao and Baldauf (2008) point out, despite the alleged involvement
of IRGs Asian members, the unification has been frequently criticized
for lacking native familiarity and orthographical comprehension of the
subtle variations by hawk-eyed native users. Because of constraints
within source separation rules, necessary distinctions, or variants of
the same characters at the glyph level, were typographically unified
and then rendered as one character, so that they could be assigned

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

a single code point. That is to say, different forms (glyph in Unicode

typology) in the real world or on paper that should actually be assigned
more specific code points (as they might be in their respective source
standard sets), were all put together in Unicode. Some of these differences are admittedly minuscule and are unidentifiable to most users
in one community, though a user in another community will be able
to spot them, particularly, in processing inscriptional ancient text produced in different historical times, where the maximal details of graphical expression are supposed to be preserved. For example, to ancient
canon researchers and digital library/museum developers, this kind of
unification is parallel to some letters on the keyboard being missing for
alphabetic language speakers.
This is presumably the major reason for the refusal of the East Asians
to fully embrace Unicode. Preliminary research shows that, at least for
the 21,204 Unihan ideographs (Unicode version 2.1) in the portion of
BMP (Basic Multilingual Panes), roughly 50 per cent of CJK characters
need more than one glyph representation (Meyer, 1999). In other words,
in order to discern minuscule differences, demanded by traditionobsessed individuals and those developers involved in the digitalization of East Asian ancient heritage, Unicoders need to represent the
Sinographs of the different Asian locales in a culturally adequate and
typographically correct way. A process of what Meyer (1999) called
Unihan disambiguation has to be applied by Unicode to de-Unihan,
or to disambiguate, seemingly superfluous but sometimes necessary
subtle distinctions. People in general often feel irritated when they see
alien fonts on the screen, partly because these characters are less recognizable, but more probably for sentimental reasons. The analogy given
by a Unicode critic (i.e., Goundry, 2001: 12) is that it is like being compelled in a Western language setting to use the French alphabet to write
German, or to force the English to use the French. Although all three
languages are written in Roman script, an uproar would ensue if any of
the language-specific diacritics/accents and characteristic letters were
omitted in a unified Roman script, or some letter forms in a particular
language were abandoned, on the grounds that they were redundant or
merely arcane, and modern speech did not need them.
The discussion above shows that Unicode is far from being an ultimate solution to serve CJKV script users with their diversified requirements, even with some cross-locale font technologies that have been
proposed and advanced (e.g., Open Type, Meyer, 1999; Typological
Encoding, Cook, 2001), and were envisaged either to rival or supplement the Unicode. Furthermore, to gain cyberspace freedom for hanzi,
there are some non-technological issues that have to be addressed,
which I shall touch upon in what follows.

Mandarin in Cyberspace

Socio-political dimensions: the pros and cons of the two

giants of Chinese character users
Concerning the promotion of Unicode in East Asia, according to Zhao
and Baldauf (2008), Japan stands as the fiercest opponent to its adoption for two reasons. Culturally, Japans unhappiness with Unicode is
due to Unicodes inability to accommodate variations of hanzis details.
As Unihan focuses only on the shape of Chinese characters, instead
of on the concrete typological representation (glyphs), this resulted in
an its-not-my-character sentiment among culture-conscious Japanese
users. Japanese peoples care about kanjis uniqueness is demonstrable from the governments failure to persuade the population to sacrifice any details of the physical variation of kanji for technological
convenience (He, 2001: 162). While Japans JIS standards prescribe the
shape of the glyphs for each character, Unicode has been criticized as
being little more than an exercise in cultural imperialism on the part
of Western computer manufacturers (Searle, 2004: 21) and perceived
as destroying Japanese culture with Anglo-centric thinking (Goundry,
2001: 4).
The second reason for the lukewarm support from Japan is political
and economical. Unger (1991: 134) says, Because national standards are ultimately political in nature, the promulgation of UNICODE
will probably do more to delay than to hasten genuine international
standards, even if giants like IBM decide to opt for it. As the leader
in technology in the East Asian area, and possessing a couple of welldeveloped Japanese systems that were precursors and prototypes of
subsequent standard sets formulated by other hanzi-dependent polities, it is understandable that Japan is eager to take the lead in counteracting the influence of Unicode. Some Japanese achievements, such as
the TRON character code and its TRON Multilingual Environment, are
threatening Unicode by vying for worldwide acceptance. There is general acknowledgment that TRON does have some features that make its
approach to multilingual processing unique and superior to Unicode.
It is not only more East-Asian-script friendly, the TRON character set
is also infinitely extendable, thus it is capable of including all scripts
that have ever been used, and will accommodate even new scripts that
have yet to be invented (Sakamura, 1992). Nevertheless, so far TRONs
application has been confined mainly within Japan, because it has
not been given the blessing of certain American software houses that
want to control operating system software far into the future (Searle,
2004: 19).
Japan is a member of the IRG, but it warns that even if Unicode were
to become the international standard, it will be solely for multilingual

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

application, not for domestic use (Wada, 1991: 2, 5). This implies that,
at least within Japan, all software made in Japan will be preinstalled
with a Japanese coding system; when Unicode has to be used, the
system will be operable only in an isolated environment. As the only
country in East Asia that has strongly resisted Unicode from the very
beginning, Japans negative attitude towards Unicode, at both governmental level and in industry circles, is in stark contrast with Chinas
enthusiasm for it.
In opposition to Japan, China, being the homeland of Chinese characters, is the most important stakeholder and naturally feels obligated
to play the leading role in this process. However, China did not draw
up its own big set of standards during the 1980s (the series of GB-2312s
supplementary sets were not put in use until much later). Taiwan had
developed good standards, but for political reasons it is clearly impossible to promote Taiwanese standards on the Mainland. Turning to
international ones, China prefers Unicode to the Japanese standard and
its TRON system. Zhao and Baldaufs (2008) study shows that Chinese
computer experts and language planners are strong believers in Unicode
and have vigorously supported Unicode promotion since the beginning
of the 1990s. China has spared no effort in striving to make its various
internal standard encoding sets compatible with Unicode conventions,
in order to push internationalization of the standard. Japan has been
very disappointed about Chinas extraordinary enthusiasm in promoting Unicodes spread outside the Unicode group (Wada, 1991: 1). As the
preceding discussions show, in an attempt to make Chinas rich traditional heritage globally digitally deliverable, China hopes that Unicode
will provide the platform for uploading its gigantic set of Chinese classic and archaic characters.
Unicode has also been widely adopted in academic and private
sectors in China. There have been serious commercial commitments
to the use of Unicode for encoding a good part of the Chinese classic
canons and ancient human knowledge with Unicode characters. For
instance, Siku Quanshu (1772), which has 79,337 volumes and is the
countrys largest surviving Chinese encyclopedia, has been unicoded
for a number of years using original character forms (Zhang, 2005). In
sum, the problems found with Han unification, continually encountered by its clients, confirm that the consensus must occur across
human communities before any unification in cyberspace can take
place. Over the last few decades, both IT professionals and language
planners across the world have gone to great lengths to build a unified
encoding platform around the Unicode, providing an enabling environment for cross-script information transmission through an international
network system, i.e. cyberspace globalization. However, the world has

Mandarin in Cyberspace

yet to see any serious international cooperation, coordinated well and

robust enough to produce the desired result of unifying hanzis forms
in hanzi-using communities. Quality assurance and system stability in
viewing online information, written in Chinese characters, has become
a bottleneck for easy web browsing in all Sinographic countries and
regions, indicating that China, long plagued by its mechanically awkward writing system, has a long way to go in disseminating its language
and culture in cyberspace.

Concluding remarks
The electronic innovation we are caught up in is understood as the
third revolution in the use of language (in addition to the invention
of writing and printing), and the effect of this revolution on language
is very difficult to predict (Reid, 2003). Situated in this context, this
chapter has shown Chinas governmental efforts in enabling the historically attested writing system to keep up with technological advances.
In order to expand the traditional heritage in a new environment,
Chinese characters must survive in cyberspace, the emerging front in
the globalization of language and culture.
I first provided a short introduction to the development of Chinese
character computerization, which outlined the main problems encountered by Chinese IT professionals in their efforts to make ideographical
hanzi computable and compatible with modern computers. This was
followed by a section dedicated to the articulation of further problems
concerning the digitalization of visual cultural heritage, which highlighted the governments determination and participation in overcoming technological challenges through the modus operandi of LP. Two
ongoing LP undertakings, one concerning a series of script standardization activities, and the other a more ambitious venture aiming at
overhauling the whole set of characters, were described in regard to
ancient text and script verification. Since globalization is defined by
a borderless flow of information, a significant segment of this chapter
has been devoted to the international collaboration and competition in
cyberspace among the respective hanzi-reliant societies, with a focus
on Unicodes role in unifying a wide variety of existing information
exchange-oriented character sets. The chapter then concluded with a
brief revisit of the complex situation of hanzis difficult move towards
internationalization in the digital era.
Revolving around issues related to Chinese character computerization and the promotion of traditional culture, as well as its spread via
modern communication means, the chapter has examined the interacting dynamics between technological progress and traditional culture

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

maintenance on the one side, and between the socio-political reality

and the technological world on the other. Increasingly, the internet is a
tool whereby the modern nation-state tries to maintain cultural distinctiveness. To keep in step with the ubiquitous trend towards computing,
Chinese language planners are fully aware of the necessity of seizing
the new technology to empower Chinese culture to survive in Englishdominated cyberspace. To pursue script-use uniformity by means of
state power is a strategic consideration of LP policy makers. The completion of the two ambitious projects targeting hanzi standardization
will give China a competitive edge in promoting Chinese culture to
the world through the electronic media. However, with Chinas power
growing beyond its geopolitical borders, its cultural promotion has
proved to be far more difficult than its economic development, due to
the inefficiency of its writing system. In the last few decades, the danger of each polity choosing its own system, without policy coordination
in formulating the standard sets, has been recognized internationally.
There have been increasing discussions about the possibility to unify
all code set standards for hanzi, so that an agreement on a universal
standard can be achieved within the region. Unicode provides a starting point for international collaboration and there has been considerable progress since it came into being, but the hope of achieving only
one global standard in cyber life, for an unrestrained flow of information, still remains an unfulfilled aspiration.

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Globalization and South

Koreas EPIK (English
Program in Korea)
Mihyon Jeon

Chapter summary
This chapter demonstrates how the EPIK (English Program in Korea)
program is an example of Koreas active response to the globalization process through which Korea not only accommodates external
demands but also strategically pursues national interests through
equipping its citizens with the command of English and proving
its image in the world. Since the former president of South Korea,
Kim Young Sam, declared that the country had entered an era of
globalization in 1995, globalization has become a major topic of
discussion in South Korea. In the era of globalization, one of the
major challenges Korea faces is how to equip students with English
proficiency, since English is the language of international communication. The Korean Ministry of Education has implemented a series
of English language education reforms as a part of Koreas globalization policy one of which is the English Program in Korea. EPIK,
affiliated to the Korean Ministry of Education, was established in
1995 with the mandate to improve the English-speaking abilities of
students and teachers in Korea and to reform teaching methodologies in English. EPIK also aims to cultivate open-minded and wellrounded Korean individuals capable of advancing Korea, to foster
strong ties between Korea and other countries by developing cultural
exchanges, and to better Koreas image in the age of information and
globalization. After presenting an overview of EPIK, this chapter
highlights that the South Korean government has responded to and
actively participated in the global spread of English by adopting and
implementing the EPIK program. Furthermore, the ideology of the
native English speaker as the ideal teacher, readily adopted by the
Korean government and people does not grant native English teachers legitimacy as teachers in their everyday interactions with local
Korean teachers of English and Korean students. This chapter demonstrates that the dichotomy of native speaker of English as superior
teacher and non-native speaker of English as inferior teacher is too
simplistic to explain real life experiences of EPIK teachers.


Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

South Koreas wild geese fathers manage a reunion with their children, and often wives, just once a year after seeing them off for
study abroad, invariably to learn in English. They are, contends a
new government zealous to reform, symptomatic of a damaged state
education system that forces parents to throw money at private tuition and prevents Asias fourth-largest economy from leaping to
the worlds top league . . . South Koreans, anxious to ensure their
offspring are well-schooled, spend around $5 billion (2.5 billion
pounds) a year to educate them abroad equivalent to nearly 20
percent of the annual total allocated to education by the government. At more than 100,000, South Koreans outnumber any other
foreign student group in the United States . . . Kang Ji-hyun sends
her five-year-old to an English speaking kindergarten which costs
around $800 dollars a month for a three-hour day, which is fairly
average cost for a pre-schooler.

This recent newspaper article (Thatcher, 2008) clearly demonstrates

an English fever (Jeong, 2004) among South Koreans, an obsession
with attaining a better command of English. As Block and Cameron
(2002) persuasively argue, globalization alters the conditions in which
language learning and teaching take place. One of the most prominent
impacts of globalization on language learning and teaching practices
is the rise of the importance of English in different parts of the world,
even in countries like South Korea where English is not necessarily
used in everyday life. English is central to the ongoing process of globalization (Phillipson, 2003) through the rise of transnational corporations, the increase in the number of international organizations, and the
predominant use of English on the internet (Gray, 2002). In the twentyfirst century, it is unquestionable that English has the status of a global
language. South Korea is no exception when it comes to the influence
of globalization and its impact on English language education.
English is seen as closely tied to the economic survival of South
Korea within the context of globalization. Koreans place great importance on English, even though the society remains highly monolingual
(Baker and Jones, 1998). While there is no absence of speakers of other
languages in Korea, such as the diasporic Chinese and migrant workers from China, South-East Asia and other countries,1 the majority of
Koreans are rarely in regular contact with speakers of languages other
than Korean, and practically all aspects of life are conducted in Korean
(Park, 2004). Nonetheless, English is seen as an important key to success and upward social mobility. The importance of English is especially prominent in the domains of education and the labour market.
English test scores play a large part in college entrance and access to

Globalization and South Koreas EPIK

employment in white-collar jobs. English as an economic commodity

has a high value in Korea, since people with English proficiency have
an economic advantage in society.
The importance of English as linguistic capital (Bourdieu, 1991) in
South Korea and in the world, combined with the importance accorded
to education by Korean families, has resulted in a seemingly excessive
phenomenon of sending young children to English-speaking countries in
the hope that early exposure to an English-speaking environment will give
them native speaker-like fluency. This phenomenon, which started appearing in the mid-1990s, created family separation and financial burden for
parents and for society at large. This form of transnational family separation, which is well-expressed by the newly coined terms, wild geese
fathers or wild geese family, occurred in the context of the South Korea
governments active implementation of the globalization policy in conjunction with its admission to membership in the OECD in 1996 (Lee and
Koo, 2006). In 2008, the wild geese fathers are estimated to number about
200,000 nationwide (Kim, 2008). Parents who cannot afford to send their
children abroad rely on the private sector, where they pay steep costs.
As a response to globalization and the ever increasing (perceived and
real) importance of English, and to counteract the obsession with English and the high expenditure on English education abroad and in the
private sector, the South Korean government has proposed and implemented various language policies. One example, which is the focus of
this chapter, is EPIK (English Program in Korea), a government sponsored program which recruits native speaking English teachers (NSETs)
in elementary and secondary schools in Korea. This chapter situates
the EPIK program as a policy response to globalization and a site where
global resources are realized locally. In particular, this chapter seeks to
question the popular view of the superiority of native English teachers
in ELT (English Language Teaching) by examining an under-researched
topic: the lived experiences of EPIK teachers.

The data presented in this section are mainly from my participation as
an observer at the 2007 EPIK reunion and are supplemented by subsequent interviews with EPIK coordinators and teachers in July and
August 2008. My participation in the EPIK reunion and interviews are
part of a large-scale ongoing investigation into the experiences and participation of native English teachers in East Asia. The study focuses on
the participation of native English teachers in three official Asian government-sponsored English language teaching programs, each of which
recruits, trains and administers native English teachers: the Japan

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

Exchange and Teaching program (JET), the English Program in Korea

(EPIK), and Hong Kongs Native-speaking English Teachers program
(NET). The four main questions which guide the research are (1) what
implications do the different policies and institutional structures in the
three Asian countries have on the participation of native English teachers?; (2) what issues of identity and attachment arise for these English
teachers, and what impact do they have on program retention and future
participation?; (3) what implications do interactions between the local
Asian teachers/students and native English teachers have for building
intercultural understanding?; 4) what kinds of national and international policies and agreements can improve the quality of the participation of native English teachers? A multi-method and three-phase data
collection process, one which utilizes both qualitative and quantitative
tools, such as online survey, in-depth interviews, focus group and onsite
observations, has been and will be adopted to gain multiple viewpoints
on the research questions from a variety of stakeholders.
My participation in the EPIK reunion, conducted at the initial stages
of data collection, was realized through the approval of EPIK coordinators with whom I met in April 2007 at York University, Toronto. They
visited York University as a part of their promotion tour of the EPIK
program in Canada. My participation in the reunion enabled me to gain
insights into EPIK teachers experiences and concerns, which in turn
informed the design of the online survey and interview questions. The
reunion was held on 2122 December 2007 in Yousung, a mid-sized city
in central Korea, and brought together from different parts of Korea about
50 EPIK teachers who had started teaching in September of that year. The
two-day gathering was organized by the EPIK program, and consisted of
three EPIK teachers presentations and an open discussion forum on the
first day and a Q & A session and fieldtrip to a local temple on the second
day. In total, 4 hours of the event were both audio- and video-recorded.
The informal conversations with EPIK teachers during the mealtime and
the field trip were recorded in my field notes afterwards.
I also draw on the interviews 2 conducted in July and August 2008
with each of the following participants: three former and present
EPIK coordinators, two current EPIK teachers, and two Korean teachers of English. The interviews lasted from forty minutes to one and
a half hours. All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed for

Global English and Koreas response

This section presents first a theoretical framework for globalization and
second its relationship with language teaching in order to lay out a

Globalization and South Koreas EPIK

conceptual background for the discussion of ELT in Korea. Discussions

on the highly contested term globalization entail much debate and
disagreement. Globalization is inseparably linked with developments
and demands of neoliberal capitalism. Emphasizing the cultural dimensions of globalization, Appadurai (1990) characterizes globalization as
a dense and fluid network of global flows, including: (1) ethnoscapes
(flows of people); (2) technoscapes (flows of technologies, machinery and plant); (3) financescapes (flows of money); (4) mediascapes
(flows of images and information through media); and (5) ideoscapes
(flows of ideas associated with state and counter-state movement
ideologies) (p. 296). Appadurai maintains that the new global cultural
economy has to be understood as a complex, overlapping, disjunctive
order, which cannot any longer be understood in terms of existing center-periphery models (even though that might account for multiple centers and peripheries) (p. 126).
Appadurais perspective on globalization resonates with Halls conceptualization of contemporary globalization as postmodern. Hall
(1997: 183) distinguishes modernist globalization from postmodern
globalization. The former occurred during periods of Western colonization and was characterized by unilateral exertion of influence from
center (the global) to periphery (the local). In contrast, contemporary
globalization is characterized by more complex, multilateral forces
and varied local realization of global resources (Hall, 1997: 183). The
acknowledgment of the complexity of contemporary globalization,
however, does not negate the existing continuity of colonial influence.
For example, although UK- and US-based institutions do not by any
means run the show globally, they continue to be disproportionately
influential. While globalization is perceived as a homogenizing process
by the dominance of the global over the local (Gray, 1998; Ritzer, 1998),
it is also seen as a process which entails a synergetic and dialectic relationship between the global and the local, as proposed in the concepts
glocalization (Robertson, 1995) and hybridization (Pieterse, 1995). To
understand the complexities involved in contemporary human interaction, the seemingly contradictory conceptualization of globalization as
both a homogenizing and hybridizing process can be helpful because of
the paradoxical nature of globalization (Kubota, 2002), as expressed in
Appadurais assertion that the central problem of todays global interactions is the tension between cultural homogenization and cultural
heterogenization (1990, p. 295).
In the subsequent analysis of the EPIK program as the South Korean
governments response to the spread of English in the global market,
I examine the broader global, social, political and economic structures
and widely circulating ideas about English and its native speakers in

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

which the EPIK program is situated. Then, in analyzing the EPIK teachers position in ELT, I focus on globalization as a hybridizing process
and examine how, in the process of the particularization of the globally
circulating ideologies of English and native English speakers, these very
ideas and images of self and other are altered in specific contexts.
As one of the consequences of globalization, languages have been
treated as economic commodities (Block and Cameron, 2002). Heller
(2003) argues that in the new globalized economy language and identity become marketable commodities. English has the highest value as
linguistic capital among the languages of the world. Why and how has
English gained the status of a global language, an international language, or a lingua franca? There are different approaches to explain
the global spread of English, from an apolitical view treating English
as a neutral tool (Kaplan, 2001; Crystal, 2003) to more critical perspectives linking the global spread of English to linguistic imperialism
(Phillipson, 1992), linguistic neoimperialism (Phillipson, 2008), a threat to
linguistic human rights (Skutnabb-Kangas, 2000), and colonialism/postcolonialism (Pennycook, 1994, 1998; Shin and Kubota, 2008). These
critical approaches have in common a conceptualization of the spread
of English, linked to wider political issues, as inherently problematic
and a perception that ELT practices are not value-free (Gray, 2002).
The values and discourses attached to English have been constructed
within specific historic and sociocultural contexts. In relating current
ELT theories and practices to colonialism, Pennycook (1998) argues:
The history of the ties between ELT and colonialism has produced
images of the Self and Other, understanding of English and of other
languages and cultures that still play a major role in how English
language teaching is constructed and practiced: from the native
speaker/non-native speaker dichotomy to images constructed
around English as a global language and the assumptions about
learners cultures, much of ELT echoes with the cultural constructions of colonialism. (p. 19)

Echoing Phillipson (1992), Pennycook (1998) asserts that colonialism

should be understood as the context in which current ideas about English and ELT were framed, by laying a foundation for the maintenance
of structural and cultural inequalities between English and other languages in the post-colonial age (p. 123).
As Shin (2006) argues, a post-colonial analysis can be useful in
understanding the place of English in South Korea, although the postcolonial analytical framework developed within the context of multilingual post-colonial societies such as India (Kachru, 1983, 1994) can be of
only limited use (Park, 2004), because of Koreas unique linguistic situation (e.g., high monolingualism in Korean). Although Korea has never

Globalization and South Koreas EPIK

been colonized by an English-speaking country, the neo-colonial influence of the United States of America on Korean history since the end
of Japanese colonial rule has made South Korea to some extent comparable to former colonies of English-speaking nations (Park, 2004; Shin,
2006). The US intervention started with its military governments rule
over South Korea between 1945 and the establishment of the Republic
of Korea in 1948. Justified by the military tension between North and
South Korea since the Korean War (19501953), the hegemonic role of
the US in the political, economic, and cultural spheres in South Korea
has continued up to the present (Park, 2004; Shin, 2006). The association of English with (post-) colonialism in South Korea is well-reflected
in the following commentary by Hea-chul Shin, a singer. It was made
on the policy proposal for English immersion education programs advocated by the then President-elect Lee Myung-paks transition team if
the government wants everyone to speak English, it would be better to
become the 51st state of the US or to become voluntarily a colony [of an
English-speaking country] (English to be used, 2008). Shins commentary raised a controversy, and many Koreans shared a similar negative
view of the governments plan. This proposal itself was later dropped.
In the process of the global spread of English, the nation-state is not
a passive victim of linguistic globalization but an active participant.
Although some theorists conceptualize globalization as an external
force which undermines national sovereignty (Sonntag, 2003), others
such as Cohen (2001) argue that globalization over the decades has
been the product of the actions of the state and the use of its sovereign
authority, not the cause of its demise (p. 80). Following the East Asian
model of development, which has resulted in the tiger economies,
Korea, as an agentive state, has been a successful and active participant
in the globalization process. In fact, South Korea, which took a clearly
interventionist role in economic development, was widely admired as
one of the most successful tiger economies of Asia (Kim and Hong,
2000). As South Koreas national economy has grown, so have the
South Korean governments expenditures on education (Shin, 2004).
South Korean education has been controlled by a state-led centralized
management system (Shin, 2004), and South Korean government has
considered education as a tool for the state to accomplish its own goals.
Therefore, I pay attention to the Korean governments role in the process of globalization and language education by creating and maintaining the EPIK program.
The following section surveys how the South Korean government has
responded to and thus participated in the global expansion of English.
The South Korean government has actively responded to globalization.
In 1995, the Korean government announced a strong drive towards

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

globalization under the slogan of (segyehwa globalization

in Korean) in order to enhance Koreas global competitiveness (Kim,
2000). Through this globalization campaign in the 1990s, accompanied by South Koreas international exposure through hosting the 1986
Asian Games and the 1988 Olympic Games, English has gained increasing significance in South Korea (Yim, 2007). As part of the segyehwa
effort to globalize and further the growth of the South Korean economy
by reforming education, the government developed the sixth National
Curriculum which was implemented in middle schools in 1995 and
in high schools in 1996 and focused on developing fluency and communicative competence rather than accuracy (Shin, 2007). Since the
inception of official English education in Korea in 1883 (Kwon, 2000),
grammar translation and emphasis on grammatical knowledge had
been the dominant method in English teaching in Korea, remaining so
throughout the Japanese colonial period and up until the sixth National
In addition to this shift in teaching method, the Korean government
adopted a policy to start mandatory English language education in the
third grade of elementary school, 4 years earlier than the previous policy of starting English classes in the first grade of middle school (Jung
and Norton, 2002; Park, 2004). The governments decision to teach English from grade three onward, which was implemented in 1997, further reinforced Koreans obsession with English (Jeon and Lee, 2006).
After the Asian financial crisis in 1997, the importance of English was
further enhanced (Park, 2004), as English was recognized as a tool for
enhancing South Koreas competitiveness in the global market and for
thus rebuilding the economy. Thereafter, in 2001, the Korean Ministry
of Education proposed that English be taught through the use of English, a proposal which frustrated a majority of local English teachers.
(See Shin, 2007 for an in-depth discussion about the policy and local
English teachers responses.) In line with the governments policies for
English education and its globalization effort, some candidates for the
2002 election of city and province officials made campaign pledges to
establish yeongeomaul (English village) which would provide an
English immersion environment (Park, 2004). In 2004 the first English villages opened in Gyeonggi province and in Seoul. (For more on
English villages in Korea, see Shin, 2006.) Since, a half-dozen more
English villages have opened in different cities, including Paju (2006),
Yangpyung (2008), Daejeon (2008), and Jeonju (2005). These English
villages are sponsored by provincial governments. The advent of English villages shows not only the extent of Korean parents and students
investment in learning English, but also how the discourse of English
education can be adopted as a political issue in local elections.

Globalization and South Koreas EPIK

In its continued effort to facilitate English education, the Korean

Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development announced,
in May of 2005, a Five Year Plan for English Education Revitalization
(Jeon and Lee, 2006). The plan would place a native-speaking English
teacher (NSET) at each junior high school by 2010 (a total of 2,900
teachers nationally) and promote a one NSET per school policy at the
elementary and high school levels. In the long run, the government
plans for each elementary and high school to have at least one native
English speaker teacher. The rationale for the plan is that interaction
with NSETs will provide students with more English input, a more
authentic English environment, and greater cultural understanding.
This plan emerged as a result of the significant economic loss incurred
by sending students abroad to study and as a response to increasing
criticism about and mistrust of the public English education system
among Koreans (ibid.).

English Program in Korea (EPIK)

This section will situate the EPIK policy in the process of globalization
and demonstrates how South Korea has responded to and participated
in the global spread of English. Affiliated to the Korean Ministry of
Education, EPIK was launched in 1995 and promoted as part of the
education reform task under the slogan of reinforcing foreign language
education and reinforcing globalization education (http://epik.ied.
go.kr/). According to Soo-Taek Rhee, president of the National Institute for International Education Development, the goal of EPIK is to
improve the English-speaking abilities of Korean students and teachers, to develop cultural exchanges, and to reform English teaching
methodologies in Korea (ibid., original in English). Rhee maintains that
through EPIK, English language education will cultivate open-minded
and well-rounded Korean individuals capable of advancing Korea in
this age of information and globalization (ibid.).
During the period of operation between 1995 and 2007, more than
1,992 teachers have joined the program. The EPIK program specifies
the following eligibility requirements for prospective teachers: (1) citizenship in one of the following countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland,
New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the USA and South Africa; (2) a
BA degree; (3) good mental and physical health; (4) good command of
English; and (5) ability to adapt to Korean culture and living. Applicants must have studied from the junior high level (7th grade) and
resided for at least 10 years or more in the above-listed countries. An
EPIK teachers duties include: conducting English conversation classes
for Korean teachers and students, preparing teaching materials for

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

English language education, assisting in developing teaching materials, assisting with activities related to English language education and
other extracurricular activities, assisting Korean teachers with English
classes and/or jointly conducting English classes, and performing other
duties as specified by the host POE (Provincial Office of Education)
(ibid.). Salaries range from US$1,900 to US$3,000 per month, depending on the candidates eligibility, the location of the school, and the
contract period.
In situating the EPIK program within the processes of globalization,
I adopt Appadurais characterization of globalization as a network of
global flows of people (ethnoscapes), money (financescapes), technology (technoscapes), images (mediascapes) and ideas (ideoscapes). The
willingness of EPIK teachers, as guestworkers or temporary migrant
workers, to move to South Korea for at least a year and sometimes
longer makes the EPIK program possible. The very idea of temporarily working in a foreign country such as South Korea is facilitated by
the rapid flow of people who constitute the shifting world. The flow
of EPIK teachers is also influenced by financial flows. The transfer of
money from the Korean government to EPIK teachers and eventually
their countries of origin is an incentive for EPIK teachers to move to
Korea. In the long run, the Korean government aims to secure a counterflow of money from foreign countries to Korea by strengthening Koreas
competitiveness in the global market through developing the Korean
peoples English skills. The flows of people and money through the
EPIK program include TESOL (the Teaching of English to Speakers of
Other Languages) teaching materials, examinations (e.g., TOEFL, GRE,
etc.), know-how, and teachers, which are significant export items for the
countries from which EPIK teachers come (Phillipson, 2008). The flows
of people and money through the EPIK program are also facilitated by
flows of technology. The advertisement and recruitment processes rely
heavily on the internet, and EPIK teachers make use of information
about teaching resources and materials available on the internet.
In terms of flows of images, the EPIK program was founded on the
reality of the global spread of English that has been accompanied by
the spread of an image/ideology of English as a Global Language and
English speakers as global citizens. The EPIK program also demonstrates that Korea is a part of the flow of ideas in the ideoscapes of the
globalization process. The rationale behind the policy of hiring native
English speakers to teach English in Korea is that English should be
taught monolingually by native speakers. Native English teachers who
are not bilingual in both English and Korean have of course no choice
but to teach English only through English. This rationale is not specific to the South Korean government; it is a commonly held belief in

Globalization and South Koreas EPIK

many teaching and learning situations in the field of ELT. Pennycook

(1998), citing Auerbach (1993), argues that ELT theories and practices,
including the exclusive use of English, need to be understood not so
much in terms of pedagogical rationalizations but rather in terms of
the ideological implications that emerged as part of British neocolonial
policy (Phillipson, 1992). Such ELT practices, which are assumed to
be pedagogically grounded, can be summarized by the following statement: English is best taught monolingually, by native speakers, as early
as possible, and as much as possible, and preferably to the exclusion of
other languages (Pennycook, 1998: 158). These discourses are consequences of the perpetuation of colonial constructions of the images of
superior self and inferior other in theories and practices of ELT. Such
ideologies of ELT are taken up by the South Korean government and
materialized in the EPIK policy, which in turn contributes to the spread
of such ideologies to its citizens. South Korea plays an active role in
the circulation of the ideology of the native English speaker as the ideal
teacher, since both the government and its citizens actively subscribe
and contribute to further the circulation of the ideology.

Superior teachers vs. performing monkeys

In current global flows of images (mediascapes) and ideas (ideoscapes)
of ELT, including in Korea, English is seen as the most powerful language, and native English speakers are positioned as superior while
non-native teachers of English are positioned as inferior. Shin (2006)
maintains that colonial discourse surrounding English and its various speakers leads Koreans to assume the superiority of native English
teachers and the inferiority of local Korean teachers of English.
My interaction with EPIK teachers at the reunion showed that the
superior position of native English teachers was not always realized
in their lived experiences. Of course, the Korean governments subscription to the discourse of native English speakers as ideal English
teachers made it possible for some EPIK teachers without teaching certificates or backgrounds in education to teach at Korean public schools
as long as they held BA degrees and were citizens of the one of the
seven inner circle countries. This requirement reveals that the South
Korean government privileges only inner circle varieties of English and
holds a narrow definition of what constitutes English(es) and native
English speakers, which has been abandoned by the paradigm of World
Englishes (Brutt-Griffler, 2002; B. Kachru, 1992; Y. Kachru, 2004). The
linguistic capital they possessed as native speakers of very limited and
specific varieties of English guaranteed EPIK teachers full time teaching positions regardless of their qualifications as teachers. However, the

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

lived experiences of EPIK teachers demonstrate that the dichotomization of native English speakers as superior teachers vs. non-native English speakers as inferior teachers is too simplistic and rigid to reliably
reflect the complexities involved in interpersonal interactions between
EPIK teachers, Korean teachers of English, and Korean students.
The experience of Mike, an EPIK teacher from the United States,
provides an illustration of this complexity. He expressed his position
as an EPIK teacher in his school and his role in English education in
Korea in the following comment during the open discussion forum
(21 December 2007):
We want to plan class together, but co-teachers are too busy. They
have a lot of paper work . . . Teachers are wonderful but there is disconnect between what we were told and what they were told. I was
a JET [a Japan Exchange Program participant] before. I had the same
problem. Co-teachers go, Great teachers! You have great ideas. But
youre here only one hour per week. We are here until sixty-two
years old. No, thanks.

There were similar comments from other teachers such as: Most native
English teachers do not know the curriculum requirements their
co-teachers follow nor have they seen their students textbooks (Clair,
presentation, 21 December 2007). As illustrated in the previous extracts,
many EPIK teachers experience their place in Korean English education in marginality and isolation. Although Mike hoped to contribute
to the improvement of Korean English education by sharing his ideas,
local English teachers ignored his advice. As Clair, an EPIK teacher at
a middle school, added, We simply show up one day a week as an isolated entity with our own lesson entirely separate from whatever it is
our classes do the rest of the time.
EPIK teachers lack of integration in the regular curriculum tends
to be more prevalent in middle and high schools than in elementary
schools (interviews with Hazel, 23 July 2008 and Janice, 8 August 2008,
both EPIK teachers; an interview with Ms Lee, an EPIK coordinator,
1 August 2008). Janice, an EPIK teacher at an elementary school, reported
that she taught one quarter of a lesson unit, while her co-teacher taught
the rest. But her team-teaching worked out with only one of the two
Korean co-teachers, because of the lack of cooperation of the other
co-teacher (interview, 8 August 2008). This shows that an individual
EPIK teachers experience in team-teaching can vary according to the
Korean co-teachers. Janice ascribed the lack of interest of the co-teacher
in team-teaching to the low English proficiency of the teacher. My interview with Mr Park, who served as a local English teacher at an elementary school, revealed that his administrative duties and the lack of time
prevented him from planning team-teaching with an EPIK teacher at

Globalization and South Koreas EPIK

his school, although he was very interested in team-teaching and his

English proficiency was sufficient (interview, 26 July 2008). Janice also
shared the experiences of her colleague EPIK teachers who taught in
middle and high schools in that they rarely team-teach with Korean
co-teachers, which echoes the experience of Clair who taught at a
middle school. Given the fact that EPIK teachers were assigned middle
schools first, high schools next, and elementary schools last (interview
with Ms Lee, an EPIK coordinator, 1 August 2008), the majority of EPIK
teachers experience the lack of integration in the regular curriculum,
which is reinforced by the lack of implementation of team-teaching.
Choi (2001) also found that team-teaching, which was intended to be a
key notion in EPIK, was not widely enforced in practice.
In her presentation during the open discussion forum (21 December
2007), Sharon, an American, voiced her response to the EPIK teachers
subsidiary position in Korean English education:
Why are we hired? I dont know. They pay me $2000 a month . . .
But were here as performing monkeys, like what we do is we
stand there, we do a dog and bunny show for 45 minutes. Everybody laughs and giggles, having a good time. We sit around in front
of a computer. That works for me. Two grand for that? Youre kidding. I have my job. Its brilliant. It could be done differently. I am
not here to fix the problems. Its not my country. Im not here to
change the world. I love my job. Its a nice, great country. Love it.

Echoing Sharon, William pointed out that EPIK teachers as performers have entertainment value (personal communication, 22 December
2007). Performing monkeys with entertainment value is a metaphor for
EPIK teachers position in which they have limited power to improve
Korean English education by contributing to the students learning of
English. Without the reward from making things better as a teacher,
fixing the problems in her own words, Sharon found the value of
her work in the good salary that she earned for a relatively easy job as
a performing monkey and by spending time in front of a computer
during her downtime. Like Sharon, John also implied that the work
was overpaid, since he taught only 22 hours per week. The economic
benefit of the job is, of course, one of the major motivations for EPIK
teachers to teach in South Korea.

Discipline and power

The presentations made by Mike and Sandra (21 December 2007)
showed how they were received by Korean students, which further
reveals EPIK teachers lack of legitimacy. Mike shared common class
management problems that he faced, such as: (1) frequent cell phone

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

use; (2) sleeping during the class; (3) looking at mirrors; (4) spitting; (5) throwing things out of the windows; (6) vandalism of the
air conditioner; and (7) coming to the class without pens, books and
dictionaries. He added that one lesson per week was too short to
implement discipline. Regarding sleeping during class time, his students always gave him the excuse that they had had to stay up late
studying for a test. But Mike added that his students gave him the
same excuse even when they did not have a test. Except for spitting and vandalism, most EPIK teachers shared Mikes experiences.
Sandra, a Canadian said, At my first day at the school, my students
did everything but listen to me. They were using cell phones, listening to music, drawing, talking to each other, or sleeping. These things
never happen in Canada, because teachers dont allow it. I cried and
thought about going back to Canada the following day (presentation, 21 December 2007). These class management issues arise in the
specific context of English conversation classes led by EPIK teachers. Another EPIK teacher, Jennifer, rightly pointed out the main reason for the class management problems: Korean students did not
consider her English class a real class, because what she taught was
not on their tests. She added that Korean public education has a
test-centred curriculum in which tests determine what is taught in
class. In this system, the local Korean teachers of English who are
in control of assessment and examinations can exercise more power
in English language teaching in general and student management
in particular than can EPIK teachers who do not have such control.
Even in the case of Janice, who taught one quarter of each lesson
unit, she was not given a chance to see the tests and the final grade
of each student, except that she was asked to evaluate the students
oral proficiency (interview, 8 August 2008). Thus, the management
problems are less a result of individual performance, such as the
inabilities of EPIK teachers and misbehaviours of Korean students,
than the structural issues that situate the relationship between EPIK
teachers and Korean students.
Even with this systemic and structural marginalization of EPIK teachers, there are some EPIK teachers who have tried to make changes and
succeeded in part. For example, Jennifer, to overcome her limitations as
an EPIK teacher, memorized over 600 students names using flash cards
with photos matched to the names. Sandra also surmounted her initial
difficulties by using incentives, such as copies of $5.00 bills and group
points, and by adopting games in her class. Based on his observations
on team-teaching and interviews with EPIK teachers and local teachers
in Korea, Carless found some positive impacts of team-teaching
on students (2004) and described an example of good practice of

Globalization and South Koreas EPIK

team-teaching between a local teacher of English and an EPIK teacher

(2006). Some EPIK teachers intended to build their careers as EFL/ESL
teachers. For example, David, who used to be a substitute teacher in
California, planned to pursue his MA online in TESOL while in Korea.
These individual success stories, however, cannot validate the structural and systemic contexts in which EPIK teachers find themselves
having limited legitimacy as teachers.
What, then, does the South Korean government gain in exchange
for the funds spent to hire EPIK teachers? The entertainment value of
native English teachers alone does not adequately justify the significant
costs of running the EPIK program. Rather, hiring native English speakers
serves as a political tool for (re)gaining the trust of parents who sent
their children abroad or to private English language institutes (e.g.,
English kindergartens). The local realization of the global resource of
English as linguistic capital, and the local adoption of the discourse
of the native English speaker as superior English teacher are complex
processes. Ironically, in real classrooms the EPIK teachers assumed
superiority as native speakers of English does not guarantee local acceptance; Korean teachers of English and Korean students do not perceive
EPIK teachers as legitimate teachers. Neither does the position of EPIK
teachers in Korean ELT automatically grant local Korean teachers of
English more legitimacy as English language teachers. Dichotomizing
native speakers of English as superior teachers and non-native speakers
of English as inferior teachers is too simplistic to explain the real
life experiences of EPIK teachers, local Korean teachers and Korean

In the analysis of South Koreas EPIK program, this chapter has focused
on the broader global, social, political and economic structures and
widely circulating ideas about English and its native speakers in which
the EPIK program is situated, while also paying attention to how the
globally circulating ideologies of English and its native speakers are
realized in the particular context of EPIK. The macro-level analysis of
the EPIK program in relation to globalization has highlighted the South
Korean governments response to and active participation in the global
spread of English by adopting and implementing the EPIK program.
Description of the EPIK policy has demonstrated that the South Korean
government adopted the ideologies of English as a global language and
the native English speaker as the ideal language teacher. While intended
to enhance its citizens command of English, South Koreas English
language policies have contributed to the spread of such ideologies to

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

its citizens and resulted in the active participation of both the South
Korean government and citizens in the further circulation of such ideologies. The South Korean government, parents and students willingly
and zealously invest resources to obtain linguistic capital by learning
English. The South Korean case is one of the numerous examples of
symbolic power in use (see Phillipson, 2003, 2008 for the case of English in EU), showing active complicity (Thompson, 1991) on the part
of South Koreans in subscribing to the legitimacy of English and native
speakers of English in ELT.
The ideology of the native English speaker as the ideal teacher, readily adopted by the Korean government and people does not, however,
grant native English teachers legitimacy as teachers in their everyday
interactions with local Korean teachers of English and Korean students.
The lived experiences of EPIK teachers have illustrated that the dichotomy of native speaker of English as superior teacher and non-native
speaker of English as inferior teacher is too simplistic to explain real
life interactions of EPIK teachers, local Korean teachers and Korean
students. The experiences of EPIK teachers, positioned as language
teachers with limited legitimacy, illustrate how local adaptations of
English language policy have altered the images of superior self vs.
inferior other. Instead of attempting to prove or disprove the truthfulness or falsehood of particular ideologies regarding English and the
native English speaker, this chapter has focused on the ways in which
these ideologies are constructed, appropriated and reconstructed at the
macro-level of educational policy and at the micro-level of everyday
interactions among EPIK teachers, local Korean teachers and Korean students. Before we can start to talk of change, resistance, opposition and
counter-discourse, we need to pay attention to the complexities of the
contemporary reality of the lives of the diverse people involved in ELT
in a post-colonial, globalized and market-driven world. ELT in Korea
can benefit from an enhanced understanding of these complexities.

1. The research project reported in this chapter was funded by two grants:
(1) a Faculty of Arts Research Grant, York University, in 2007 to 2008 and
(2) a policy research grant from Asia Pacic Foundation of Canada in 2008
to 2009.
2. I wish to acknowledge and thank the volume editor, Viniti Vaish, for her
guidance, encouragement, and critical comments on the earlier versions
of my chapter. I want to express my gratitude to the EPIK teachers, local
Korean teachers of English, and EPIK coordinators for their kindness,
honesty, and unbound voices.


Globalization and South Koreas EPIK

An earlier version of the paper was published in Jeon, M. (2009), Globalization and Native English Speakers in EPIK (English Program in Korea),
Language, Culture and Curriculum, 22 (3), 231243.
The data for the current chapter is from a research project funded by the
grants from the Asia Pacic Foundation of Canada and the Faculty of Arts,
York University.
1. According to the Korean National Statistical Ofce, in 2007, among 765,746
registered foreigners who reside in Korea for more than 3 months, 708,474
were from Asia; 310,485 were Korean Chinese (ethnic Koreans who live in
China); 111,008 Chinese; and 67,197 Vietnamese (http://www.index.go.kr/
egams/default.jsp); 34,083 were from North America. In the same year, there
were 223,464 unregistered foreigners in Korea.
2. The interviews were conducted in part by my colleague, Eve Haque, and

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Globalization and
Policy Shift in Malaysia:
Challenges of
Saran Kaur Gill, Radha M. K. Nambiar,
Noraini Ibrahim and Tan Kim Hua

Chapter summary
Among the many measures taken by Malaysia to face the demands
of global competitiveness is a major shift in language policy from
Bahasa Malaysia to English for Science and Mathematics at various
educational levels, from primary to secondary and higher education. This chapter will have the dual thrust of unravelling the main
reasons for the change in the language policy as well as examining
the challenges for the implementers on the ground, the teachers.
For a nation that has been using Bahasa Malaysia as the language of
education for the past 30 years, this shift to English as the language
of instruction for Science and Mathematics has inevitably brought
about a number of challenges. Immediate steps were taken by the
Ministry of Education of Malaysia to address these challenges. One
of the education initiatives taken was the development of a national
programme on English teaching for Science and Maths (ETeMs),
by the English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC), a teacher education division entrusted with the task of retraining teachers. This
initiative, in turn, faced new challenges, in particular, varying
levels of English competency among Science and Maths teachers,
compressed scheduling of in-service training, lack of networking after training, underutilization of self instructional materials,
and the less than successful collaboration among the Science and
Maths teachers with the English Language teachers. The evaluation
of the language-in-education policy shift is currently underway.
Six years after its implementation, the fate of the English language
as a medium of instruction for Science and Mathematics lies very
much in the hands of the policy makers. The literature on the challenges faced tends to suggest that it is perhaps too early to evaluate


Globalization in Malaysia

the success of the shift in the medium of instruction from Bahasa

Malaysia to English for the teaching and learning of Science and
Mathematics. Hence more time is needed for a fairer evaluation of
the change in language in education policy.

Post-colonial nations manoeuvred freedom from the shackles of colonial powers through political, educational and socio-cultural re-affirmation. Through the educational systems, one of the most common
assertions of national identity was the establishment of a national language in place of the colonial language. Malaysia, after being colonized
in the eighteenth, nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries,
gained independence from the British on 31st August 1957. One of the
earliest integral initiatives for this young nation was the replacement
of the colonial official language of English with Bahasa Melayu. This
initiative was impacted by the spirit of nationalism and for the dominant ethnic group (for whom the language was their mother tongue) to
reaffirm their identity and to provide them with a strong sense of recognition and legitimacy among the various other ethnic communities
in Malaysia (Emerson, 1960: 152; Horowitz, 1985: 185). This change
also provided a platform for a common language to be legislated as the
official language for both educational and administrative purposes and
which over the years, would function as the linguistic means for the
promotion of unity among the various ethnic groups in Malaysia.
There was a need to create space and recognition for Bahasa Melayu in
the post-independence period because English had already established
itself as the language of economic opportunity and social mobility in
the pre-independence period. As Asmah explained, the introduction of
English created two classes of people based on education those educated in English (i.e., predominantly Chinese, urban Indians and Malay
elites) with the connotation of high education, high office and socioeconomic power and those educated only in the vernacular languages
(i.e., commoner Malays and labouring Chinese and Indians) with the
connotation of peasantry, cheap labour and petty trading (Asmah Haji
Omar, 1995: 159, cited in Kaplan and Baldauf, 1997: 197).
To rectify this social and economic imbalance, the Malays felt
strongly that the institution of Bahasa Melayu as the national language,
its legislation as official language and its development as language of
knowledge was necessary to provide it with educational and administrative capital that would lead to its development as a language of
higher status. Therefore, having mastery of this language would provide the Malays with linguistic capital of greater value for economic

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

opportunity, which would then lead to social and professional mobility.

Through the landmark recommendation of the Razak Education Commission in 1956, the Government implemented the National Education
Policy, which stipulated that Bahasa Melayu becomes the medium of
instruction in schools (Report of the Education Committee, 1956: 4).
The aim of this policy was to remove the identification of a particular ethnic group with school achievement and reduce the inequality of
opportunity among ethnic groups.
As a consequence, during that post-independence period, English,
which used to be the medium of instruction in the educational system
and which had a powerful status not only nationally but also internationally, through its economic and technological power and roles, was
given less importance than Bahasa Melayu. From its role as medium
of instruction it became a subject in the school curriculum, a subject
that was compulsory to take but not to pass. If its status had not been
reduced, then Bahasa Melayu would not have had the opportunity to
develop its status in competition with such a powerful language.
A crucial element in the success factor of the implementation of the
language as the language of knowledge is the need for published/translated materials in the native language. Gonzalez depicts this by arguing
that in the Philippines context for the native language to be taken seriously as language of knowledge, it has to be cultivated to a higher level
of intellectual development, which is usually done at the tertiary level
through the writing of books in the native language. If this is not done,
and there is insufficient published text material in the native language,
then in turn, the school-based programmes will be limited in their development and children will be disadvantaged (Gonzalez cited in Kaplan
and Baldauf, 1997: 200). Therefore, in the same light, for Bahasa Melayu
to be taken seriously as an intellectual language and to truly gain educational capital, it needed to be modernized and academics needed to
be encouraged to write or translate specialized knowledge in the native
language. Therefore, amidst the various challenges, the first thing
that needed to be done was to modernize the language. Given its multifunctional value and importance, many resources were injected to
facilitate the implementation of both status and corpus planning to
develop and establish Bahasa Melayu as the national language, the language of administration and the language of education over a period of
30 years, from 1952 to 1982 (see Asmah, 1979 for details on both status
and corpus planning for the development of Bahasa Melayu).
After 30 years of the legislation and implementation of Bahasa
Melayu in the education system, and all the efforts at modernizing
it, the 1980s signalled the onset of the knowledge economy driven by
science and technology. This led to the nation needing to develop an

Globalization in Malaysia

innovative culture in the information age. This means that the forces
that shape every company industrial, service and financial will be
of an information nature; the competitive advantage will go to those
who can make best use of the information they have or can find, those
who can distribute information and knowledge most freely through the
executive, managerial, technical and product/service-making workforce, and those who deliver the fruits of this knowledge to customers
throughout the world (Daniels and Daniels, 1993: xxii).
One of the greatest effects of globalization anchored in information
technology communication is the emergence of a new world order,
which is most distinctly captured in the emergence of the knowledge
economy (Kenway, 1996; Feguson, 1997). It has an impact on the changing structure of the economy and the transformation of society from an
industrial to a post-industrial society. The features of the new economy,
which has variously been called the information and knowledge economy, is the process of innovation and creativity to generate profits and
drive businesses.
The information technology revolution, which forms the base of
the knowledge economy requires a new breed of workers for the new
century, and these workers are best described as knowledge workers.
Knowledge workers are global citizens because their expert knowledge
is in demand all over the world, particularly by countries which are
steaming ahead to be in the forefront of this competitive information era.
Their strengths that make them internationally viable are not only their
technical expertise but also linguistic competence in English, which
facilitates communication, whether face-to-face or technology-based.
Therefore, nations around the globe were facing the challenges of globalization and the newly emerging knowledge economy and the impact
of these factors on education, language choice and human resource
development. These new challenges brought along with them contrasting decisions, decisions that reversed earlier ones concerning languagein-education policy. Many post-colonial nations began re-examining
the language policies that had been implemented in the throes of linguistic nationalism in the post-independence period. This was largely
because of the winds of change driven by forces of globalization and the
knowledge economy which were affecting the economic and knowledge-driven priorities of many nations around the globe. In these times
of critical dependence on the knowledge economy and technology ideologies nations needed to develop human resource that is able to access
and use knowledge and information in the field of science and technology, which is largely in English. Thus languages began to be viewed
as economic commodities possessing linguistic capital rather than
symbols of ethnic or national identity (Block and Cameron, 2002: 5).

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

As a result, language policies began to be driven by forces of pragmatism, based on the need to develop knowledge economists and innovators in various fields of science and technology.
Thus, this led in 2003, to a major change in Malaysias language
in education policy. This was a change from Bahasa Melayu to English for Science and Maths. This leads us to the following sections of
the chapter, which focus on both the political reasons for and the
impact of the change on pedagogical perspectives, focusing on teachers. The need to adopt this approach is emphasized by Tollefson and
Tsui when they say, In analyzing medium-of-instruction policies, it is
always important to include both pedagogical and political perspectives (2004: 292).
This chapter has a two-pronged focus. First, it explicates the underlying reasons for the change in language policy and secondly, it moves
onto the challenges for its implementation. We begin by briefly unravelling the main reasons for the change in language policy, focusing
largely on the viewpoints of the person who was instrumental for
the change, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Mahathir.
Thereafter we examine the research literature on the challenges faced
by the stakeholders integral for the implementers of any language-ineducation policy, i.e., the teachers. This will involve describing and
examining the training and support provided for the teachers to equip
them with skills and knowledge to cope with this change. This incorporates the theoretical underpinnings and the different phases of the
national programme developed by English Language Teaching Centre
(ELTEC) aimed at enhancing the language proficiency of Science and
Mathematics teachers and their continuing professional development.
It then moves onto the challenges faced in the training of the Science
an Maths teachers. The second half of the chapter draws in voices from
society and provides space for them to express their support and dissent against the language policy. This is supported by research on the
pedagogical impact of the policy on the ground and the socio-political
reasons for the change.

A top-down approach: reasons for change

in language policy
A sudden change in the language of instruction was announced in the
mass media on the 11th of May 2002 (Mahathir Mohamad, New Straits
Times, 11 May 2002: 1). This led to the reinstitution of English as the
medium of instruction for Science and Maths in the national schools
in a staggered fashion beginning with Primary One, Secondary One
and Lower Six.

Globalization in Malaysia

This was a top-down decision on language policy, driven largely by

the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Mahathir Mohamed, who
had mainly practised a form of autocratic democracy in his decisionmaking processes during his 22-year term as Prime Minister. Top-down
language planning is carried out by people with power and authority
(many of whom make up the government) who make language related
decisions for the nation, often with minimal consultation with the
grassroot language learners and users (Kaplan and Baldauf, 1997: 196).
Therefore, it was crucial to obtain from him, first hand, the reasons
for which the policy change had been instituted. As part of a research
project (Gill et al., 20032005) during which he was interviewed, when
he was asked why the change had to take place, he said,
Education is for the purpose of acquiring knowledge. The most
important thing is the acquisition of knowledge. If you have to use
a language which makes the knowledge more easily accessible, you
should use that language . . . Our education system is like any other
education system. Its meant to enable us to acquire knowledge.
If we have the knowledge available in the national language, by
all means, do . . . but the fact is that in science the research that is
being done is moving at a very fast pace. Everyday literally thousands of papers on new research is being published and practically
all of them are in English. To translate English into Bahasa, would
require a person with 3 skills. Skill in the 2 languages and skill in
the subject that is to be translated and we dont have very many
people who are qualified to do that or who wish to do that. That is
why it is easier if you learn English and the students can have direct
access to all the knowledge that is available in English. (personal
communication, 16 June 2005)

It must also be kept in mind that this was made against the backdrop
of the aim of the nation to be an industrialized nation by 2020. In this
context, the issue of developing relevant human capital becomes critical. This needed to be human capital, which has the capacity not only
to acquire knowledge but also to innovate particularly in the fields of
science and technology. Therefore, given the gargantuan proliferation
of knowledge published in English in the field of science and technology, it was essential for Malaysians to be able to access this with immediacy (The reasons for the change are explicated in greater detail in Gill
(2005) and David and Govindasamy (2005)).
In arguing a case for the need to reinstitute this change in language
policy and to garner support for it, Mahathir redefines the concept of
nationalism by asserting that, We need to move from the extreme form
of nationalism which concentrates on being a language nationalist only,
not a knowledge nationalist, not a development-oriented nationalist.

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

I feel that we should be development-oriented nationalists. We want

our people to succeed, to be able to stand tall, to be respected by the rest
of the world. Not to be people with no knowledge of science and technology, very poor, very backward, working as servants to other people.
If we have no knowledge we will be servants to those with knowledge
(personal communication, 16 June 2005).

Examining the challenges for teachers

It must be remembered though that the successful implementation
of a new language policy can only be carried out if the teachers are
provided with clear guidelines as to the policy and the structural support and resources needed for its implementation. This should include
being informed of the reasons for the change, provision of training to
assist teachers to cope with the change, helping to develop the linguistic competency of teachers and the educational resources needed for
the implantation of language policy.
Teachers of Science an Maths have been teaching in Bahasa Melayu
since the latter was instituted as the medium of instruction in the education system since post-independence days. In parallel, with the marginalization of English, exposure to the English language has become
much reduced, compared to when it was the language of education.
All of these decisions resulted over the years in the development of a
generation of students and teachers who were more fluent in Bahasa
Melayu than in English. This is not surprising given that the teaching
of content subjects in the national language provided students with an
environment in which they were immersed in the language. Immersion
facilitated acquisition and competency of Bahasa Melayu for teachers
and students of various multi-ethnic communities.
This greater competency in Bahasa Melayu than in English raises one
of the major challenges facing the recent change in medium of instruction
policy, that is, the competency of the teachers of Science and Maths in
the English language. Can teachers who have been teaching Mathematics
and Science in Bahasa Melayu for decades now use the English language to deliver content? A sampling of literature in this area provides
us with an idea of the challenges faced by teachers in implementing this
policy. Yeow (2003: 1) states that while these teachers are pedagogically competent, some of them would face difficulties in teaching Maths
and Science through another language. Similar views are presented by
Pillay and Thomas (2003: 29) who posit that these teachers display
inadequate proficiency in English for content delivery and Kon (2005:
46) who maintains teachers were skeptical about their own confidence
and capabilities in delivering the subject matter in English.

Globalization in Malaysia

Research among teachers supports the importance of and need for

teacher preparedness and readiness to facilitate the switch in medium
of instruction. Pandian and Ramaiah (2004) discuss the language
inadequacies among teachers and how this is an obstacle in helping
to bring about the required changes in their learners. Kon (2005) working with primary school Science teachers, concluded that while the
teachers had oral fluency and could use the English language to teach
Science, they expressed less confidence in pronunciation of words and
terms in Science. Noraini Idris et al. (2007) highlight the fact that many
teachers perceived they needed more training in preparing themselves
to speak and deliver in English, conduct question and answer sessions,
and guide students to use English in class itself. Choong (2004) states
that teachers who cannot articulate their thoughts in the English language will find it impossible to develop conceptual understanding in
their learners.
The task of retraining teachers was left to the teacher education division which appointed the English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC) to
develop a national programme aimed at enhancing the language proficiency of Mathematics and Science teachers (Pandian and Ramaiah,
2004; Choong, 2004). We now move on to tracing the implementation
challenges in instituting the language-in-education policy change for
Science and Maths in the Malaysian education system by examining
the training and support provided for the teachers.

Theoretical underpinnings of programs

conducted by ELTC
The theoretical underpinnings of the training programme developed
by ELTC rested on the development of content knowledge in English
(Choong, 2004). Instrumental to the design of the programme was
Cummins work (1979, 1981), although the aforementioned work
focused on learners and not teachers. Cummins proposal on the development of cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) can be
applied to teachers to ensure that they have the required proficiency to
make sense of academic language in context-reduced situations.
Cummins (1979) posits that there are two differing language proficiencies basic interpersonal communication skills or BICS and cognitive academic language proficiency or CALP. Most speakers acquire
BICS or the surface skills fairly quickly as these are the social skills
that enable them to interact with other speakers. CALP however, is
used for formal academic learning. Cummins (1979) further states that
it is possible to attain native speaker fluency within 2 years of learning a target language while it can take as long as 7 years for academic

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

language to develop. This is because academic language is cognitively

demanding as new ideas, concepts and language are taught simultaneously. What is important to know is that what is learned in the L1 can
be transferred to the L2 because conceptual knowledge developed in
one language helps make input in the other language comprehensible
(Cummins, 1981). Hence the learning of academic content in English
for Mathematics and Science can be made easier when academic language is nurtured and developed simultaneously.
Cummins BICS and CALP have formed the basis for many language
programmes to help improve proficiency. One such programme is the
Sheltered English programme that helps develop content area knowledge, academic skills and improved proficiency in the English language. This programme provides opportunities for learners to learn
English by using it to understand content knowledge. Using clear,
direct and simple English, teachers communicate meaningful input
in the content area to students using a variety of methods like extralinguistic cues (pictures, charts, maps) props (physical objects) and
body language (Parker, 1985); linguistic modifications during speech
(Parker, 1985); interactive lectures, cooperative learning strategies
(Kagan, 1989); employing a focus on central concepts using a thematic
approach; and developing of suitable strategies to develop thinking
(Langer and Applebee, 1985). The various methods employed here
illustrate how the communication process can be enhanced and meaningful input put forth for learning.
ELTC was designed along similar ideas as the Sheltered English programme because it stressed the idea that using English to develop content knowledge could lead to better proficiency in the language itself.
Pillay and Thomas (2003: 27) posit the premise is that cognitively challenging and complex academic content can be taught in a linguistically
simplified manner by ensuring that the material is taught in context
embedded environments that is an environment where the teaching
and learning is fully supported by the use of various media.
The effectiveness of Sheltered English depends on the teachers
ability to teach in English without altering the content, that is, there
should be no watering down of course content. At the same time the
teacher must ensure students have opportunities to develop their academic language which means there must be effort to enhance communication in English in class. Teachers can do this by using simple
structures in the early stages and then move on to more complex structures when content is more comprehensible. This integration of content and language seems to be what the training division and ELTC
had in mind when they designed the training programme which will
be discussed below.

Globalization in Malaysia

The training programme developed by ELTC is known as English for
Teaching Mathematics and Science (ETeMS). The programme had
a two fold thrust to enhance language skills of Mathematics and
Science teachers for effective teaching using English as MOI and to
enhance teachers continuing professional development (EteMs, 2004).
This training programme was made available to all Maths and Science
teachers throughout the nation and was conducted in the various states
to enable all teachers to attend the training. A total number of 50,000
teachers underwent training to equip them with skills and competencies to deal with the change in MOI. ELTC recognized that focusing
on the development only of content knowledge was insufficient as the
change in medium of instruction necessitated a fundamental understanding of both content and language issues (Choong 2004). Hence
the training of teachers should focus on both productive and receptive skills to ensure the development of language skills. The underlying premise here was that teachers should already possess the content
area knowledge and pedagogical skills and needed to develop the basic
proficiency to enable them to deliver this content effectively in the target language. The programme had as its underlying focus the development of language for accessing information, for teaching Mathematics
and Science and for professional development. According to Pillay
and Thomas (2003) The programme had to incorporate elements of
activating teachers English language proficiency as well as developing
a specialist language to cope with teaching mathematics and science in
ETeMS centred on 240 hours of instruction and adopted a 5-pronged
strategy comprising
Interactive Phase 1 (language-based with subject content)
Interactive Phase 2 (language and subject with technology)
Self-instructional package for self-directed studies (print and
Internet based learning through freeware (material available for
use on the internet)
Buddy support system
Phase 1 ETeMS
Thirty per cent of Phase 1 was focused on developing language for
accessing information while 70 per cent focused on language for teaching Mathematics and Science. It was hoped that this would provide
teachers a head start in developing basic language skills needed to begin

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

teaching in English for content subjects. This phase was delivered by

means of 5 modules distributed over a period of 5 weeks involving a
total of 60 hours. Each module took place over 2 days of face-to-face
interaction. Thereafter there were 30 hours of a 5-day module and
finally 30 hours of a self-instructional package.
The 5 modules in this phase consisted of a series of sessions over a
period of 2 days and comprised text labs, language labs, stand and deliver
and back to the future sessions. The text lab was to help teachers develop
reading skills based on Maths and Science texts. Using the texts as a
stimulus for a lesson teachers learn how to exploit the texts for vocabulary skills, grammatical, discoursal and linguistic features. Teachers are
encouraged to use English to discuss how they could structure their lessons thereby helping to develop their confidence levels. The language
lab sessions provided opportunities for teachers to develop language
competence with skills like explaining concepts, describing, etc. with a
reference to accurate grammatical structures. The stand and deliver sessions were avenues for teachers to practise the language learned in the
earlier two sessions in simulation exercises. The back to the future sessions enabled teachers to reflect on their learning experience and look
ahead to future goals. At the end of each module teachers are encouraged
to assess their own self-development to see how much of progress they
have made and also to develop confidence in their abilities. The selfinstructional package helped supplement the delivery provided through
the modules and were to be used by teachers for self-access learning.
The 5-day module provided a means of sustained immersion in the
English language as it was delivered at a live-in training venue for teachers. This module entailed cohorts of trainees developing and practising
scripted lessons which would go into a bank and be made available
for all teachers. The aim of the intensive practice was to help prepare
teachers for classroom instruction.
Phase 2 ETeMS
Phase 2 was developed from the feedback received from Phase 1 and
also involved 90 hours of face-to-face interaction supported with selfinstructional materials. The first part of Phase 2, involving the faceto-face interaction had 3 modules Alpha, Beta and Gamma to further
develop teachers competence in relation to the pedagogical aspects of
teaching of Mathematics and Science (Facilitator notes, ETEMS Package, 2004).
The Alpha Module focused on note making and task design while
grammar and vocabulary were developed concurrently. The Beta Module set out to educate teachers on the use of the multimedia courseware

Globalization in Malaysia

supplied by the Ministry of Education and helped build on teachers

ability to write test items. The Gamma Module focused on helping
teachers with classroom presentation skills and developed their pronunciation abilities. The second part of Phase 2 the development of
self-instructional materials involved active participation of the teachers in the development of a portfolio of materials they could use in their
own classrooms and inherently build on their confidence to extend
their mastery of English independently.
The Buddy Support System
While there was a good training program designed by ELTC to assist
teachers cope with the switch in the medium of instruction for the
teaching of Maths and Science, there was also awareness that teachers
still needed a resource in their individual schools to help them. This
additional support was the buddy system where another member of
staff would serve as a critical friend and help Maths and Science teachers with language problems.
This collaborative support structure was based on the understanding
that there was a critical friend who could be either an English subject
teacher or a Maths and Science teacher who was competent with the
use of English to teach. This critical friend would act as a buddy and
assist the teacher in the use of language to teach Maths and Science.
Ideally of course if the critical friend could also be a Maths and Science teacher who was competent in the language then help could be
provided in both the content and language as well.
Selected language teachers underwent training as master trainers
to equip them with the skills for helping their fellow buddies back at
school. The master trainers were equipped with training skills through
the MaSTT (Mathematics and Science Trainer Training), a training programme developed for master trainers in Malaysia through the collaboration of the Teacher Education Division of the Education Ministry and
the College of St Mark and St John, United Kingdom. The MaSTT, which
builds upon the experiential learning model, is designed to make the
master trainers think about training and develop critical thinking skills.
These trainers are also trained to think and reflect upon the kinds of
materials used as well as the needs of the people they are training.

The challenges of the training of Maths

and Science teachers
ETeMS, which is a comprehensive training programme, has been in
existence for 5 years now since 2003, and given the timeline, it would

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

be appropriate to examine the challenges that it has faced. Research carried out on the ETeMs programme and opportunities provided for teachers to voice their views (Subramaniam and Mardziah, 2007) have seen
a number of issues being raised on the effectiveness of the training in
helping teachers and also in enhancing their professional development.
These issues are the varying levels of English competency among the
Maths and Science teachers, the compressed scheduling of in-service
training, the absence of opportunity for professional development
among teachers, the underutilization of instructional resources, the
not so friendly buddy system and finally the neglect of the recipients
or learners. These were all issues that clouded the implementation of
the ETeMS project (Subramaniam and Mardziah, 2007). We will now
examine these issues in the following sections.

Varying levels of English competency

It was discovered that training the teachers was not a clear-cut matter
because of the varying levels of English competency among teachers.
This was because most of them had completed their education in the
national language, Bahasa Malaysia. This in turn meant their proficiency in English was largely inadequate. At the same time, there were
teachers, who were senior and had been through the English medium
of education. Due to different exposure and background, these teachers
had good language competencies. Hence trainers had difficulty pitching their modules appropriately due to the varying levels of proficiency
among the Maths and Science teachers.
Norzita (2004) (cited in Khiruddin Ahmad, 2007) surveyed 86 Maths
and Science teachers of Form 1 classes in an urban school in Seremban, the capital of the state of Negeri Sembilan, and found their level
of proficiency and competency was low and even with training they
needed continuous support. Kamsilawati Kamlum (2005) reminds us
that many teacher trainees are not interested and do not have the ability
to teach in English, so it is unrealistic to expect them to implement
the change in MOI. Using a questionnaire, she investigated Maths and
Science teacher trainee perceptions of their readiness to teach ETeMS
by focusing on their proficiency and support and facilities provided by
the school. Her research found that the reality of the situation is that
they are struggling to learn terms in English and in addition they have
to familiarize themselves with instructional language in English. This
places both teachers and learners in a very disadvantageous situation.
A teacher can be highly knowledgeable in content knowledge but if
this knowledge cannot be communicated to the students then nothing
is taught and the teacher is seen to have failed.

Globalization in Malaysia

Compressed scheduling of in-service training

The original plan was to minimize disruption in schools by reducing
the number of hours teachers left their classes for training. This led
to the provision of in-service training over the weekend. However the
usual practice of a week-end training stint has proven to be of little
value, more so if the aim is to help improve proficiency. This is because
of the lack of opportunity for any hands-on-learning during the weekend stints. Hence the Ministry of Education opted for a 5-day training
package simply because it was easier to organize logistically. The difficulty of getting all the trainers and teachers together in one place at
one time, finding a suitable training site, ensuring there was sufficient
software for the teachers to obtain hands-on-training and of course, the
costs incurred proved too challenging to coordinate.

Lack of networking (post-training)

When training is conducted according to specific time intervals over
a period of time, teachers have the opportunity to try and apply what
they have learnt from the session and discuss with other teachers techniques that were successful in the classroom. But when teachers only
meet once or twice for training and do not have any further contact
they have no avenues to talk about their experiences and share them
with members of the group. Choong (2004: 5) explains what is lacking.
She says that, The need for face-to-face interaction and some time for
socialization and learning for an extended period during immersion
is critical for language learning to be of any impact especially for this
target group of teachers who share the same subject knowledge.
This meant there was no opportunity to share experiences on what
was feasible and what was not and the outcome of this was the absence
of ongoing professional development for the teachers. Bearing in mind
that the ETeMS programme set out to enhance teachers professional
development, the lack of opportunity for the teachers to share personal
experiences and form networks to exchange ideas was unfortunate.
When the programme does not allow teachers to spend some time talking to each other and sharing their reflections, they have no opportunity to improve on their pedagogy.

Underutilization of self-instructional materials

Self-directed learning resources in the form of a self-instructional package, grammar books and dictionaries were given to teachers to help
them enhance their knowledge in their respective fields. Even with the

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

provision of laptops for each Science and Mathematics teacher, teachers were not optimizing the self-instructional package. The findings
from the Malaysian English Language Teaching Associations (MELTA)
National Colloquium on Teaching of Mathematics and Science in English held on 11 December 2007 highlighted a number of reasons why
teachers have not fully utilized the instructional material (Subramaniam and Mardziah, 2007).
Many teachers claimed that the textbooks, for both Mathematics and
Science were inadequate in that they did not provide enough examples and only carried brief descriptions of the content. This meant the
teacher and the students had to do a lot of reading outside the classroom
which was seen to be burdensome to both groups especially since the
readings were in English (Pandian and Ramaiah, 2004). This is indeed a
sobering thought because if teachers find it burdensome to read materials in English they must clearly lack language competencies.
The multimedia courseware was also unsuitable as students with
low proficiency said they were not able to understand the language in
the courseware. Tajul Ariffin and NorAini (2002) (cited in Kamsilawati,
2005) state that while the more senior teachers could cope, the younger
teachers (who had been trained in Bahasa Melayu) were struggling with
the courseware themselves and also with having to explain the language
to the students.

Collaboration through the buddy system

Collaborative teaching between Maths and Science teachers and English teachers was not always feasible owing to a number of constraints.
The lack of time and heavy workloads prevented teachers from wanting to form such partnerships. In addition, low levels of competency in
English resulted in a situation which left a lot to be desired.
Choong (2004) states that senior Maths and Science teachers were
suspicious of the involvement of English language teachers as trainers. Many of these content teachers considered themselves proficient
in English and were not so receptive to the idea that they would have
to undergo training to teach in English. In addition they were resistant to being grouped with other Maths and Science teachers who were
not proficient in English. When they were made to go for the training
they ended up being critical of everything and were disruptive to the
Khiruddin Ahmad (2007) reveals that language teachers are willing
to help but they are not so confident that they can assist the Maths
and Science teachers translate terms which they themselves were not
so sure about. These language teachers themselves learnt Maths and

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Science in Bahasa Melayu and their limited ability to understand the

subjects in English was an obstacle to them helping the Science and
Maths teachers. Hence, once again, poor competency level was an
obstacle to collaboration among teachers.

Voices for and against ETEMS

Amidst mounting pressure from several quarters, the Ministry of Education organized roundtable discussions to which select parties were
invited. These were closed-door affairs. The invited parties included
representatives from the National Union of the Teaching Profession
(NUTP), educationists from the main political groups, Parent Teacher
Associations (PTAs), members of the academia and key members of
language-based organizations. The Minister of Education, Hishamuddin Hussein explained the aim of these sessions, which was, to review
various studies undertaken to assess the programmes implementation before the ministry announces its decision in December 2008 on
whether to continue with teaching the two subjects in English (New
Straits Times, 10 July 2008: 8).
Subsequent to these announcements, in the months of July, August,
September and October 2008, there were numerous articles and letters
written to the print media arguing in some cases, for support of and
in others, arguing against the implementation of teaching Science and
Maths in English. Due to the lack of published academic material, an
analysis of some of the articles/letters published in the print media will
be carried out to assess societys responses to this very important issue.
The voices are based on two ideological approaches for and against
the use of English for Science and Maths. The voices against are based
on the premise of linguistic nationalism and the advantages it brings to
particularly students from the rural areas, who largely constitute those
of the dominant ethnic community, the Malays. This is similarly articulated by Tollefson and Tsui when they analyse the Malaysian situation.
They say, In Malaysia, Bahasa Malaysia remains strong, particularly
among the educational elite, as a symbol of Malay nationalism (2004:
291). The voices supporting the policy are based on developmentoriented nationalism (as originally stressed as one of the reasons for the
reversal of medium of instruction from Bahasa to English) and the fact
that the use of English facilitates direct access to knowledge and information in English, adds value to the educational system and assists
with the development of the human capacity that the nation needs in
the face of international competition. The underlying premise of this
approach was a result of perceived inadequacies of Bahasa Malaysia in
science and technology . . . to prepare learners for higher education in

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

English (Tollefson and Tsui, 2004: 292). It must be stated that this is a
challenge that not only Bahasa Malaysia faced but many other national
languages faced as well the challenge of keeping up with translation
of the gargantuan proliferation of knowledge in English in the field of
science and technology.
One of the key articles titled Revise policy for 3 reasons written by
Rosnani Hashim (28 September 2008), from the International Islamic
University, stresses that it is important to revert to Bahasa Malaysia as
the language of Science and Maths for the following reasons: firstly, for
the simple pedagogical reason that our teachers have not been trained
in English and they are not proficient to teach the subjects in the language . . . Second, Bahasa Malaysia has been the language of democratization of higher education in this country, as our history has shown
it acts as an equalizer . . . the Education Policy has helped narrow the
gap between the rich and the poor and created a bigger base of middle
class, which is a stabilizing factor in society . . . Third, this policy, if
continued right from primary school-level will slowly cause the death
of Bahasa Malaysia as the language of intellectualism (Star Education,
28 September 2008: E4).
Teachers constitute the most important element in the implementation of language policy. Whether it is just or unjust, they are the human
resource that most impacts on the development of the human capacity needed for the nation. Therefore, in the case of change of language
policy, they are the ones who have to carry most of the burden of implementation. If they are not convinced of the reasons for the need for
change and do not put their heart and soul into improving their proficiency levels, then the policy is doomed to fail. This is the message that
is being disseminated via this article as well as research that has been
conducted and presented at the round-table dialogues.
One research project that was made public and immediately received
much attention was a study led by Isahak Haron et al. (2008) of the Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) (translated this is the University
of Education, Sultan Idris). Broadly, the findings revealed a rather dismal scenario as a result of the implementation of the policy. Two of
the main findings will be mentioned here. The first is, that 70% of the
students from the primary schools do not/ barely comprehend their
teachers teaching of Mathematics and 80% find it difficult/fairly difficult to learn Mathematics and Science in English. And secondly,
on the use of the English language as the medium of instruction, more
than 80 per cent of the students reported that the teacher code-switched
from English to Bahasa Malaysia and vice versa as a strategy to promote
teaching and learning. It thus calls for a review of the policy and for the
use of Bahasa Malaysia to be reinstated for the two subjects.

Globalization in Malaysia

Unlike Haron et al. (2008) not all research presents a picture of doom
and gloom. In a study that employed a questionnaire survey involving
575 teachers randomly selected from the whole of Malaysia, Hamidah
Ab Rahman et al. (2005) enquired into the teachers competency in the
teaching of Mathematics and Science as a result of the training programs that were aimed at preparing them for the classroom as well as
boosting their confidence. The project also investigated whether or not
the training given was adequate and relevant to the needs of the teachers (p. 31). The findings reported that the implementation of the teaching was satisfactory, that the teachers felt that they have improved their
command of the English language and that their level of confidence to
teach Mathematics in English have also improved.
As this study was survey-based, it is difficult to form a holistic
picture of what was really happening in the classroom. Further, in
the concluding remarks, the researchers end by stating that, It is now
very clear to us that a number of life-long programmes need to be carried out in order to improve teachers command of English (p. 37).
This remark is rather contradictory because if the situation was really
satisfactory, then the recommendation is redundant. But the issue is,
is improving teachers command of English enough? Or should the
training provide guidance as to how to integrate content and language
for the teaching of these content disciplines? And who should train
the teachers? Do we have competent and pedagogically sound content-cum-language specialists with the right approach and strategies
(to explain processes and detailed steps in English) to share with the
Nursherrina bte Basir Ahmad (2005) inquired into the teaching strategies of teachers teaching Mathematics and Science in English based
on the training attended at ETeMs and English language competencies
of teaching preparation. In line with Brinton et al. (1989) and Clegg
(2003), strategies are defined as teaching practices, teachers preparation, materials development and learning features. The research found
that teachers do prepare themselves by upgrading competence as well
as preparing lessons before coming to class; preparing transcripts individually and through discussions with colleagues.
However, despite the training, Nursherrina bte Basi Ahmad (2005)
reported that teachers suffer from lack of confidence in speaking to colleagues. This is of no surprise because the teachers believe that they are
linguistically challenged. In terms of register, the teachers are not aware
that Science uses the language of observation characterized by identifying, describing, investigating and explaining, while Mathematics uses
logical connectors to explain similarity, contradictions, cause to effect
and chronology or sequence. In other words, the study showed that

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

teachers teaching Maths and Science in English are neither adequately

aware nor sensitive to the specialized language.
The issues above highlight the challenges faced in the training programme for the teachers, particularly those whose language competencies need to be worked on and who constitute the main players in
instituting this change in medium of instruction for Science and Maths.
Following on from this, it would be necessary for longitudinal research
to be conducted to trace the background of these teachers who have
undergone the training, the nature of attitudes they have in relation
to the change in medium of instruction, the efforts they themselves
have devoted to improve their language competency levels and then
to examine the nature of the teaching that takes place in either the Science or the Maths classes. Only then can we know for sure where the
specific ongoing challenges lie with regards the change in medium of
instruction and what needs to be done to work at ensuring a refinement
of or an adjustment to the implementation.
Finally, in spite of all the attempts by the Ministry of Education,
perhaps what is missing from the chain of causation for success is a
recognition of the importance of the human factor. In a study conducted
in a school in Sabah, Pang (2005) advocated the idea that to succeed,
TeSME must get the direct involvement of school principals, increased
supply of resources to teachers to build up item banks and teaching
modules and increased monitoring strategies from the Ministry. In
short, for TeSME to succeed, the entire teaching profession must come
as a whole and not as discrete parts waiting to be put together.
It has now been 6 years since the implementation of this policy
and there has been mounting pressure from a number of quarters to
revert to the old language policy of using Bahasa Malayu as MOI. There
have been stronger voices opposing the policy change who have stated
unequivocally that the policy change has disadvantaged the rural students tremendously. There has been a groundswell of bottom-up reaction from some members of society to the top-down policy (Hassan,
2008; Concerned Mum, 2008; Gomez, 2008). At the same time, there are
voices who say that it is too soon to abort the policy and that any change
in language policy requires more time for the process of implementation before evaluation can take place (Subramaniam, 2008; Very afraid
Parent, 2008; Azimah Ibrahim, 2008; Sabanayagam and Illi Liyana,
2008). Therefore, the country is presently at a linguistic crossroads in
having to decide what to do with regards the medium of instruction for
Science and Maths subjects.
It would be pertinent at this stage to remind ourselves of the change
that took place in the post-independence period when English was
replaced by Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction. In a letter

Globalization in Malaysia

in the print media a teacher who has been involved in both phases of
change wrote:
Much has been said about this subject. All I have to add is that
when the system was first changed from English to Bahasa Malaysia
about 30 years ago the literary environment was only about 1015%
in Bahasa Malaysia. There were only about three Bahasa Malaysia
advertisements over TV, one Malay movie per week, the daily news
warta berita, and limited choice of books, newspapers and magazines in bookshops.
Moreover, there were no financial incentives or anything provided
by the Education Ministry to ease the teachers and students into the
change. It was only after 30 years that we managed to achieve high
proficiency in Bahasa Malaysia in the field of education.
Right now we are flooded with English books, cable television,
movies, Internet etc. which will certainly help in achieving a high
proficiency in English. The change to English from Bahasa Malaysia
took place six years ago. In my opinion, its too early to make an
assessment that may result in reverting to BM.
We need more time as the effort and money spent on various programmes by the MOE will only see results within the next five years
. . . I can say that the progress made by teachers who are willing to
change their teaching to English has been very good.
A few of them are slow and are not putting enough effort or the
financial incentive to good use.

Lets give teaching Science and Mathematics in English more time

(JU PPSMI, Ipoh in The Star, Friday 19 September 2008: N56). Good
We believe that decisions on language policy are largely political in
nature. The reality in most nations, is that the decision is based on the
needs of the dominant ethnic group of the nation. As articulated by
Rosnani Hashim above, the second reason for reverting to the old language policy of Bahasa Malayu as MOI is that Bahasa Malaysia has been
the language of democratization of higher education in this country, as
our history has shown it acts as an equalizer . . . the Education Policy
has helped narrow the gap between the rich and the poor and created a
bigger base of middle class, which is a stabilizing factor in society.
We believe that though this is very true for that phase of the nations
development but Hashims cry completely ignores the reality that
this time around the change was being instituted because the dominant ethnic group was being disadvantaged by weak competencies in
the English language. It must be realized that any major change from
Bahasa Melayu (the national language and the mother language of the

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

dominant ethnic group) would not have been instituted if the dominant
ethnic group had not been in a position of disadvantage.
This dilemma facing the dominant ethnic group is articulated clearly
by Lowe and Khattab (2003) when they say:
The success in having a national language resulted in the Malays
the race it was designed to help being disadvantaged. The current policy, therefore, had to be substituted with one which, in fact,
was directly opposed to the earlier policy. English now has to be
propagated amongst a population schooled only in Malay and with
a vested interest in its continued dominance. With English being
used as a commercial world language, as well as functioning as a
gateway to the ICT world, large segments of the Malay population
which had been insulated from such world changes were being
denied access to it. (p. 219)

To understand the development of the disadvantaged position of the

dominant ethnic group one needs to refer to the forces of globalization impacting on higher education. Since the 1990s, the government
planned to develop Malaysia into a regional centre of education. This
was because of two factors: first, the Asian economic crisis and second,
the need to increase the number of knowledge workers in order to meet
with Malaysias aspirations to become an industrialized nation (Gill,
2004: 140). While public universities have been doing an excellent job of
contributing to the human resource development of the nation, they will
find it difficult to drastically increase the number of students without
over-extending their existing services and facilities. This led to a consideration of encouraging the private industry to provide for tertiary education to meet with national human resource needs. Therefore in 1996,
the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act (PHEIA) was passed by
Parliament. This led to the liberalization and privatization of higher education to achieve the Governments economic goals in higher education.
The liberalization of higher education enabled private institutions of
higher learning to use English as medium of instruction for their various courses. This was a strong pull factor to enable the private sector
to attract foreign students to Malaysia as well as provide Malaysian
students, who might instead have gone abroad, with the opportunity to
study in English in Malaysia. The business sector took this opportunity
to set up colleges of higher education. This resulted in a bifurcation of
higher education leading to public universities using Bahasa Melayu
as medium of instruction and private universities using English as
medium of instruction.
These complexities were further compounded by the issue of
employment. With the bifurcation of higher education, large numbers of Malay graduates from public universities faced challenges in

Globalization in Malaysia

obtaining employment. Mustapha Mohamed, the then Executive Director of the government-sponsored National Economic Action Council,
articulates the reasons for this problem when he says: This is basically
a Malay problem . . . It has to do with . . . Their poor performances
in, and command of, the English language (Mustapa, 2002: 12). This
was because private sector employers looked for graduates who had
English language competencies. Therefore this meant that graduates
from private institutions of higher learning, who were mainly Chinese,
were sought after as they were more confident and fluent in the English
language. If this situation was allowed to progress with no change in
language policy, the dominant ethnic group would have been impacted
negatively and would have led to political and social instability in the
nation (Gill, 2004).
Despite the above considerations, the government has felt that the
dominant ethnic group has been disadvantaged even more with the
institution of English as medium of instruction policy. After 6 years
of the implementation of the English medium policy for Science and
Maths, the government has once again reversed the policy. On the 9th
July 2009, the Deputy Prime Minister, Muhiyuddin Yassin, who is also
the Minister of Education announced that Maths and Science will be
reverted to Bahasa Malaysia in stages beginning 2012. English will be
given prominence with greater support systems to enhance the teaching of the language from next year. In Chinese and Tamil national-type
primary schools, Maths and Science will be taught solely in Chinese
and Tamil respectively and no longer bilingually as has been the practice since 2003 (Back to BM, Star, 9 July 2009: 1) (Husna Yusop, The
Sun, 9 July 2009: 1).
Naturally, as with any change in policy, there has been again varying
responses to this decision. The Malay linguists felt this was the right
decision given that the lack of proficiency in English among the teachers had resulted in ineffective learning among the students (Chapman
and Zulkifli, 10 July 2009: 2). On the other hand, there is a group of parents who feel very strongly that the choice of which medium of instruction to use should be left to the parents and the school. They are working
towards appealing to the Minister of Education to provide them with the
option of choice the choice of affordable English medium education,
for Science and Maths (Tamarai Chelvi, The Sun, 27 July 2009: 2).

Therefore what needs to be done? Malaysia is at linguistic crossroads
and has to work out this dilemma in deciding what is best for the
nation and its peoples to enable it to engage with the challenges of

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

globalization and its aim of becoming an industrialized nation by 2020.

Would it be possible to give government schools the freedom of choice
of the medium of instruction that they feel would be advantageous for
them? After all, the government has liberalized the education system
and there are private schools and international schools which use English as the medium of instruction. How does a nation decide on what
is best for its people and for the long-term development of the country
how does it balance between the needs of linguistic nationalism and
that of development-oriented nationalism? For now, these are the language policy dilemmas and challenges facing Malaysia.

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Medium-of-Instruction Policy,
Indigenous Educational
Systems and ELT in Sri Lanka
Indika Liyanage

Chapter summary
This chapter, which is about ELT in Sri Lanka, is divided into
two sections. In the first section, with a brief introduction to the
demographic composition of the country and its indigenous educational systems, the chapter explores the processes of globalization
and their effects on medium-of-instruction policy and ELT pedagogic practices in the country. In doing so, this chapter establishes
the following: (i) Sri Lankas medium-of-instruction policy needs to
be informed of the outcomes of former policies and able to accommodate the ground level realities, and (ii) pedagogic practices have
not been sensitive to the indigenous educational systems of the
country. This lack of sensitivity has resulted in a divide between
those who are and are not proficient in English. In the second section, findings of an empirical study are presented, furthering the
idea that ELT practices need to be sensitive to the indigenous educational ethos in Sri Lanka and looked at bottom-up and a deeper

Over several centuries, the processes of globalization have resulted
in social changes that have affected indigenous educational systems.
Modes of thinking and learning vary according to social practices and
cultural traditions of different communities (Canagarajah, 1999), and
in Sri Lanka these practices and traditions echo ethos conditioned by
indigenous educational systems of the Sri Lankan people, whose modern history dates back a few thousand years. However, the aspects discussed in this chapter point to the fact that changes to the educational
system are mostly only superficial; the inherent values of the indigenous educational systems have withstood the forces of globalization,

Indigenous Educational Systems and ELT in Sri Lanka

at least at a deeper level. Within such context, how the indigenous

educational systems continue to shape the educational preferences
of its students in the country need to be looked at from a bottom-up
approach. Some developing countries rely substantially on international
aid agencies such as the World Bank (WB), International Development
Association (IDA), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Department
for International Development (DFID) and Asian Development Bank
(ADB). These agents of globalization with their policies and practices
have a hegemonic effect and continue to shape the economic, political
and educational policies and practices of these countries. As far as the
hegemony exerted on educational practices is concerned, it is most pronounced in the progressively dominant status of English as the medium
of instruction in those educational systems and pedagogical practices
associated with English Language Teaching (ELT) and English language
teacher training. It may be suggested that in exerting hegemony on educational systems, these forces continue to deemphasize the primordial
ties of people (Appadurai, 1996; Levine, 1996) based on race, language,
ethnicity and religion, and the indigenous educational systems based
around and within these ties (although the concept of primordial ties is
controversial; see Cahoone, 2005; Jones, 1997; Shils, 1957).
However, there are other former colonies that do not depend on
international aid agencies for sustenance of their educational systems.
In those countries, for example India, processes of globalization are
seen as conducive to the progression of education especially in the
case of disadvantaged communities (Vaish, 2008). Sri Lanka, however,
is a former colony and developing country that depends largely on the
assistance provided by the international aid agencies since the 1970s
(Lakshman, 1985).
This chapter discusses the hegemonic nature of globalization in
terms of medium-of-instruction policy planning and ELT practices in
Sri Lanka and is presented in two sections. In the first section, with a
brief introduction to the demographic composition of the country and
its indigenous educational systems, this chapter explores the processes
of globalization and their effects on medium-of-instruction policy and
ELT pedagogic practices. In doing so, this chapter establishes: (i) that
outcomes of previous policies and ground level realities should inform
medium-of-instruction policy planning, and, (ii) pedagogic practices
have not been sensitive to the indigenous educational systems of the
country and, as a result, the outcomes have suffered, creating a divide
between those who are and are not proficient in English. In the second
section, findings of an empirical study are presented, furthering the
idea that ELT practices need to be sensitive to the indigenous educational ethos in Sri Lanka.

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

People and indigenous educational practices

Sri Lanka has a diverse ethnic composition with three ethnic groups
Sinhala,1 Tamil and Muslim2 that make up to 99 per cent of the
population. According to government statistics (Sri Lanka Government, 2008), the majority community, Sinhala, comprises slightly less
than three fourths, or 74 per cent, of the people. The Tamils comprise
two groups: Sri Lankan Tamils, who are long-settled descendents from
south-east India; and Indian Tamils, most of whom are migrant workers brought to Sri Lanka under the British colonial rule (Somasegaram, 1969). These two groups comprise 18 per cent of the population.
Muslims, who arrived in the country with the Arab traders in the seventh and eighth centuries (Azeez, 1969; De Silva, 1977), comprise
8 per cent of the countrys population. The other minor ethnic groups
include Burghers, a community of mixed European descent, and
Veddas, who are regarded as the aboriginal inhabitants of the country.
These groups account for less than 1 per cent of the population.
The pointers of identity among the main ethnic groups are language
and religion, pervading many aspects of life and constituting a basic
element of diversity. The Sinhalese use Sinhala, which is an IndoAryan language, as their mother tongue, and more than 90 per cent
of them are Buddhists. The sociocultural history of the Sinhalese is
inseparably intertwined with the religious practices of Buddhism in
the country. The Tamils speak the Dravidian language, Tamil, and are
overwhelmingly Hindus whose ties are closely related to the distinctive cultural systems of neighbouring Tamil Nadu.3 The Muslims usually prefer to speak in Tamil and are all strong adherents of Islam. They
have preserved the religious doctrines derived from the Middle-East,
while adapting to the social environment of South Asia. The followers
of Christianity, who form approximately 7 per cent of the population,
are from among the Sinhalese, Tamil and Burgher communities.
Sri Lanka was colonized by various imperial powers during its
modern history. Among them, three nationalities Portuguese (1517
late 16th century), Dutch (16381796), and British (18031948)
placed their mark firmly on Sri Lanka by introducing it to their socioeconomic, political and cultural practices. Of the three nationalities,
the British, who occupied the country for over 150 years, had the most
influence on Sri Lankas culture, languages and education. The country then known as Ceylon received independence from the British on
4 February 1948.
Towards the beginning of the nineteenth century, all traditional
and religious educational practices had gradually been replaced with
the modern school system, which originated in the West on the basis

Indigenous Educational Systems and ELT in Sri Lanka

of Platonic views and Western culture and history, and spread to the
other parts of the world during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
(Shinil, 1996). In Sri Lanka, too, traditional educational practices were
replaced with the Western school system after the country was colonized by the British a system that still prevails throughout Sri Lanka
for all students. In Sri Lankan Government schools and universities,
education has been free up to the end of the first university degree since
1945 (Mehrotra, 2004).

Buddhist educational practice

Buddhism and its associated cultural practices were introduced to Sri
Lanka 250 years after the death of the Buddha. With the introduction of
Buddhism, religious beliefs formed the background of the society and
permeated the lives of the people of the day (Ariyapala, 1969). Temples
were constructed in every village and became the nucleus of culture
and learning. Social practices of the lay people were built around, and
were encouraged in the same direction as, those of the Buddhist monks.
Buddhist temples never operated aloof from society; they had a strong
mutual relationship with the Buddhist communities within which they
were situated. In fact, temples became the centres of Buddhist village
life. The Buddhist temple was the exclusive place for formal education for both monks and laymen alike, and a number of general themes
characterized Buddhist educational practice. Instruction was primarily oral, although an introduction to basic literacy was also provided.
Memorization of texts and debate were key methods in the teaching
and learning process (Hevawasam, 1969; Reagan, 2000).
Along with Buddhist philosophy and Pali, the language through
which the doctrine had to be taught, such related subjects as grammar,
prosody and rhetoric were also taught. Methods of teaching employed
in the temples were similar; classes were conducted through lecture
and discussion methods, and the chief mode of learning was listening. Tremendous importance was placed on the students ability to
memorize; The frequent repetitions in the texts which irritate the
modern reader had been purposely introduced to facilitate memorising. They had often to memorise long texts, and were quite equal to it
(Hevawasam, 1969: 1120).

Hindu educational practice

The beginnings of a separate Hindu cultural tradition in Sri Lanka can
be traced to the increasing migrations from South India to the northern
part of Sri Lanka during AD ninth and tenth centuries (Somasegaram,

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

1969). These migrants brought Hinduism, together with its culture and
educational practices, to Sri Lanka.
Given the long history of Hinduism, traditional Hindu educational
practice has taken various forms within its numerous sects. However,
there are some important aspects that are common to all different
forms of Hindu educational practice (Reagan, 2000). As outlined in the
Upanishads,4 the process of learning in Hindu educational practice is
based on three important acts which follow in sequential order. They
are shravana, manana and nididhyasana (Mookerji, 1951). Shravana,
which is an aspect of oral tradition, means listening, that is, listening to
the teacher with the purpose of committing to the memory. It is this act
that mainly provides the content knowledge of the subject. Shravana
leads to the second act, manana, during which learners are expected to
reflect upon what they had heard (shravana). Manana leads to the last
step, nididhyasana, during which learners are expected to realize self
and truth, and which opens the avenues for this end.
The majority of Hindus in Sri Lanka today belong to the Siddhanta
school of Saivism, which is dominant in South India (De Silva, 1977).
Although Hindus generally consider Vedas as the source of all religious
knowledge, the Tamil Saivites consider thirumurais5 the sacred body of
religious literature (Flood, 2002). Usually every Saivite is taught selections from this collection at home. As indicated earlier, the principles
of shravana, manana and nididhyasana are the basis for every different
form of Hindu educational practice (Reagan, 2000). Hindu temples are
the nucleus of cultural activity and a prominent part of Hindu life in
all parts of Sri Lanka.

Islamic educational practice

The holy Quran occupies a place in Islam that finds no parallel in
other religions of the world, because to the Muslims the holy Quran
is not only a book of religious maxims or a collection of devotional
hymns, but also a code of life, laying down the correct pattern of conduct (Kysilka et al., 1997). For the followers of Islam, education may
bear no significant meaning if it is placed outside their religious context (Reagan, 2000). In Islam, religious and secular education cannot be
differentiated; they are inseparable and neither should be emphasized
at the expense of the other. The ultimate goal of Islamic education lies
in the inculcation of the concept of Allah in the minds and souls of
Muslims (Reagan, 2000).
Although different forms of traditional Islamic educational systems
can be found in different times and geographic locations, there is a
common core of such practices that allow us to talk about the Quranic

Indigenous Educational Systems and ELT in Sri Lanka

education in general. The basis of traditional Islamic education is the

kuttab, or Quranic school, which developed after the Prophet and
became widespread by AD eighth century (Reagan, 2000). The primary
schools were called maktab6 and the secondary schools were called
madrasa.7 The curriculum of madrasa comprised grammar, literature,
logic, Islamic law, principles of Islamic law, Quranic commentary,
mysticism and religious philosophy. The teacher in traditional Islamic
education is a figure looked upon as a model to be imitated. For this
reason, in Islam he is required not only to be a man of learning but also
to be pious (Husain et al., 1979).

ELT and globalization

While globalization and colonization are understood to refer to two different phenomena (see Friedman (2005) for discussion of why the two
terms cannot be used interchangeably), some of the processes within
them have similarities. Those similar processes as they apply to ELT
during the periods of colonization and modern day globalization are
discussed in this chapter, as it is difficult to understand the present
policy directives and ELT practices in the country without knowing
their colonial roots.
The British colonial legacy and its associated processes are most
pronounced in the use, teaching and learning of the English language.
Educational developments since the arrival of the British in 1796 led
to the formation of four school systems in the country (Ruberu, 1969;
Warnasuriya, 1969): English schools for the upper and upper middle
class European and native students who were children of the colonial
administrators, Anglo-vernacular schools for the lower middle class
Sinhalese and Tamil students (Perusinghe, 1969), and vernacular schools
for the large number of Sinhalese and Tamil masses who had also realized the importance of English education. In general, all English schools
that prepared students for positions in the colonial administration were
regarded as providing a superior education, while vernacular schools
were seen as inferior, a distinction made on the basis of the social status
of the parents rather than students intelligence (Wijetunga, 1969). With
the expansion of colonial government administration, there became
available more and more jobs for which the only requisite qualification
was proficiency in the English language (Ruberu, 1969). This situation
created an increased demand for English schools from the upper classes
for their children. The demand was so great that a fourth system of
schools private schools came into existence to supply the demand.
Thus, during the British colonial times in the country there were
two distinct traditions in education as far as ELT is concerned: one for

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

the privileged few, leading to affluence and positions of prestige, and

the other designed to reconcile the poor to their poverty (Perusinghe,
1969). This distinction in turn resulted in a huge division between
those who knew English and were socially and economically capable,
and those who did not know English and were socially and economically disadvantaged.
Sri Lankas participation in modern globalization began with the
introduction in 1977 of its Free Trade Policy or Open Economy Policy
(Kelegama, 2006) in an attempt to liberate the collapsing economy in
the country at the time. Since the introduction of this economic policy,
Sri Lanka has been an active participant in the processes of modern
day economic, political and cultural globalization (see Lakshman, 1985
for a detailed discussion of these). As in colonial times, these socioeconomic, sociopolitical, and sociocultural effects of globalization on
education and the teaching and learning of English in the country have
been immense.

Global agents, education and ELT

It is no secret that the World Bank (henceforth WB) and Western corporate policies have a vested interest in shaping the educational policies in postcolonial territories towards a capitalist agenda (Phillipson,
2001). In such territories, education is hardly a means to peoples rights,
liberation and empowerment, but a profitable investment (Brock-Utne,
2000). Detailed discussions of the evidence of input from the Western agencies (see Mosback, 1984; Parish and Brown, 1988; Lo-Bianco,
1999b; Hayes, 2000) and the ideological and sociopolitical reasons
for and implications of such contributions (see Hanson-Smith, 1984;
Canagarajah, 1993; Canagarajah, 1999; Hayes, 2000 for discussions
and examples of these) in Sri Lanka have been well-documented in
the literature. Examples of how processes of globalization, through economic and financial agencies such as the International Monetary Fund
(IMF), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the WB, are changing
and reforming the educational policies in Sri Lanka have also been discussed elsewhere in the literature (see Punchi, 2001).
The Ministry of Education in Sri Lanka (Ministry of Education
Sri Lanka, 2008) reports on six projects which have been funded by
the WB and other donors: the General Education Project (GEP) and the
Teacher Education and Teacher Deployment Project (TETDP), funded by
IDA and WB; the Secondary Education Modernisation Project (SEMP)
by ADB; the Primary Mathematics Project (PMP) and the Primary English Language Project (PELP) by DFID; and the Basic Education Sector
Programme (BESP) by the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ).

Indigenous Educational Systems and ELT in Sri Lanka

A recent WB report (The World Bank, 2008a) indicates several other

funding schemes. Some of these schemes are extensions of the projects
mentioned above or funded within those schemes. These include the
Education Sector Development Program (ESDP), the Education Sector
Development Framework and Program (ESDFP), the Program for School
Improvement (PSI), Increasing Relevance and Quality of Undergraduate Education (IRQUE), the Higher Education Project (HEP) and the
Second General Education Project (2GEP). The IRQUE has been dealt
with in detail by Kaushalya Perera and Suresh Canagarajah in their
chapter in this book. The ADB has also funded the Secondary Education Development Project (SEDP), the Education for Knowledge Society
Project (EKSP) and the Skills Development Project (SDP). Several other
projects are currently being negotiated.
The influences of global forces on teacher training and material
development throughout the history of ELT in Sri Lanka are also
pronounced. Wijemanne (1969) documents (20 years after decolonization) how Western countries have been involved in ELT in the
During the last ten years or more, teams of specialists in collaboration with foreign experts have been busy in revising the syllabuses, in preparing new schemes and reading material, and issuing
hand-books to teachers with a view to achieve the objective in
teaching English as a second language in our schools. (Wijemanne,
1969: 960)

Thirty years later, Canagarajah (1999) also discusses how global powers were influencing the ELT practices of the country. Currently, the
agents of globalization are involved heavily in ELT in Sri Lanka with
the objectives of training English teachers and English teacher educators, developing materials and reconstructing curricula. These objectives are achieved through the lending of millions of dollars through
many of the projects named above, either as they are or under various
components attached to them. Following are some cited examples of
such projects:
GEP Provision of training for English-language teachers in secondary schools and preparation of ELT textbooks and materials
TETDP Provision of training for English-language teachers and
teacher educators, and promotion of English-language teaching
and learning through the provision of expertise, infrastructure,
and ELT materials
PELP Provision of training for English-language teachers in primary
schools, provision of textbooks, and curriculum restructuring

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

ESDFP Provision of training for English-language teachers, expansion of English-medium education, and, provision of co-curricular
activities in English
SEMP Provision of training for English-language teachers in secondary schools and production of ELT materials
2GEP Provision of training for English-language teachers and
teacher educators at the National Institute of Education (NIE) at
Maharagama, and implementation of reading camps to popularize
English under the English Language Action Plan
EKSP Establishment of the Centre of Excellence in English Education (CEIEE) at Peradeniya to improve the quality of ELT in the
Detailed descriptions of how these projects have contributed to ELT in
Sri Lanka are available from the following sources: for information
regarding the WB, see the World Bank (2008a and b; 2006a and b; 2005
and 1997); for information on HEID, see Little (2003); and for information
regarding the ABD see Mathews (2002) and the ADB (2007a, b, and c).

The proficiency divide

With all the expertise, directives and financial donations Sri Lanka has
received from the agents of globalization, Sri Lanka still has much progress to make in educating the masses to communicate competently
in the English language (de Souza, 1969; Goonetilleke, 1983; HansonSmith, 1984; Canagarajah, 1993). Sri Lankan students achieve very
low proficiency rates after approximately 8 years of formal studying of
the English language in the state school system (Murdoch, 1994). The
majority of students, while being able to read simple English, cannot
cope with the level of reading demanded of them at the university level
(Raheem and Ratwatte, 2001). Most of them can recognize only some
spoken language and cannot maintain a simple conversation in the
English language; they are afraid of making any structural or pronunciation errors and, when spoken to, instead of conversing, they retreat
in embarrassment (Brodkey, 1974). Students who gain admission to the
few universities available in the country after approximately 8 years of
English language instruction in the state school system are provided
with general English language courses conducted by the University
Grants Commission (Samarakkody and Braine, 2005). However, some
universities do offer English for Academic Purposes Instruction (EAP)
targeting only a small number of students compared to the numbers
enrolled in universities in a given year.

Indigenous Educational Systems and ELT in Sri Lanka

Fernandos (1977) report of the three socially distinct bilingual patterns in the country is indicative of the divide between the very small
number of people who are proficient in the English language and the
vast majority who are not. Those who belong to pattern one speak a
uniform variety of English regardless of their race (i.e., Sinhala, Tamil,
Muslim or Burghers), lead a highly Anglicised life, belong to the top
and middle of the social scale, and are more proficient in the English
language than in their native languages. Those belonging to pattern two
are usually of lower-middle or working class origin and are generally
more fluent in their respective native languages than in English. Their
use of English would naturally brand them as different from the individuals who belong to pattern one. However, some individuals belonging to pattern two may be proficient in English in addition to the two
native languages (Sinhala and Tamil) (Canagarajah, 1999) and show linguistic capabilities similar to pattern one individuals. The third pattern
comprises people belonging to the same social background as those of
pattern two with very little fluency in the English language. The individuals that belong to patterns two and three far outnumber the number
of bilinguals in pattern one.
The latest census report of the Government of Sri Lanka (2001) is also
indicative of the huge divide that still exists in the country in terms of
peoples proficiency in the English language. According to this report,
nearly 17 per cent of the population can read and write English, and
is less able to speak English than to read and write English. The others
(83 per cent) are the vast majority who rarely use English for communication because of their low proficiency; their use of English is typically
limited to the English period in the classroom. The English Language
Teaching (ELT) in Sri Lanka is most often desired by this vast majority,
who represent the three ethnoreligious groups and their intertwined
The highly competent users of English who belong to Fernandos
(1977) first group are very few in comparison to the population of the
country and their discernable accent is the only difference between
their English and that of the educated native speakers of prestigious
varieties of English. This privileged class generally comprises the
well-connected and affluent families whose ancestors were educated
in English schools under the British and who have continued to maintain the language at home by speaking in it and studying in it overseas.
These families and their children enjoy the majority of prestigious
employment opportunities both in the public and private sectors, and
it will be a while until their level of competence is achieved by the
masses, who learn English as a second language in the state system in
Sri Lanka.

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

These distinctions are significant signs of the inadequacy of Englishlanguage instruction in the island state in making its students communicatively competent in the English language. In terms of the gap
between those who are and are not proficient in English, the outcomes
of the teaching of English in the country did not differ much between
colonial and postcolonial times. During colonial times, the access to
learn English was denied to the masses and the benefits of learning it
were purposely curtailed. In postcolonial times, where access to English education is not denied, the lack of recognition of the shortcomings
of language policy and pedagogy covertly deny the masses the potential
advantages of English education.

Medium-of-instruction policy and ELT pedagogy

During the colonial and postcolonial history of Sri Lanka, the country
has witnessed four important phases in terms of its language policy
planning (Lo-Bianco, 1999a). Phase one marked the period (19451976)
of progressive officialization of English by the British during which
there was no value attached to the teaching of vernacular languages
in English and Anglo-Vernacular schools (De Alwis, 1969). Educationists in the colonial government believed not only that Sinhalese and
Tamil literature were full of filth and were not conducive to the moral
and spiritual well-being in the country, but also that the teaching of
them would have a negative effect on the acquisition of good English
(De Alwis, 1969; Perusinghe, 1969).
Phase two marked the replacement of the English language with
Sinhala and Tamil languages (19451948). The Sinhala and Tamil
nationalistic movements, which fought hand in hand against the denigration of their native languages by the colonial powers in phases one
and two, disagreed with one another on the recognition and superiority
of one language over the other. The third phase was the announcement
in 1956 of the Sinhala Only Act, under which Sinhala was declared
as the official language of the country. This act is seen as a move that
aggravated the situation and widened the boundaries between the two
ethnic groups and thus had disastrous consequences (Brann, 1985;
Lo-Bianco, 1999a). The fourth phase, in which Sinhala and Tamil languages as official languages and English as a link language were recognized in 1978, is seen by many as a remedial step to rectify the mistakes
of the third phase.
Sri Lanka has gone the full circle to phase one of colonial language
policy and is in the process of imparting all content-area instruction in
the medium of English in the state schools. The Ministry of Education
(2008) states that a pilot programme was launched in 2001 in some

Indigenous Educational Systems and ELT in Sri Lanka

schools to teach certain subjects in the English medium in grades 6 and

7, and was extended to grade 8 in 2004 and to grade 10 in 2007. The
work that the agents of globalization have done to this effect is substantial. The significance of this work is evident in various completion
reports and review documents of the projects described earlier. One
of the salient recommendations of such reports is to make English the
medium of instruction. A recent WB study (2005) entitled Treasures of
the education system in Sri Lanka: restoring performance, expanding
opportunities and enhancing prospects states the following:
English language skills and fluency enjoy strong demand in the
national labour market. In addition, English language competency
opens job prospects in the global economy. In consequence, developing English language skills constitutes a central element of the
education policy framework to improve the labour market orientation of the school system. Important development initiatives
for the future include: (a) allowing private schools to provide students a choice of English as a medium of instruction, along with
Sinhalese and Tamil, from grade 1 upwards; (b) introducing English
as a medium of instruction in government schools in stages, as and
when adequate teachers become available; . . . (d) training teachers, including re-training excess teachers in the system, to teach in
English as a medium of instruction . . . (p. 70)

In the same document the findings of four case studies conducted in

Sri Lanka are discussed. In discussing the findings of one study, the
report further establishes the benefits of using English as the medium
of instruction. Although the idea that teachers competence in English
could benefit students is acceptable, the manner in which the use of oral
English could benefit students first-languages learning is contentious.
The use of oral English in teaching contributes favorably not only
to English language scores, but also to first language learning and
mathematics achievement. This can be attributed to the ability of
teachers conversant in English to access ideas and general information better than teachers lacking English language competency.
Improving the English language capabilities of teachers, hence,
could yield broad benefits to students. (p. 60)

The WB, IDA and ADB reports cited in this chapter admit repeatedly
that there are insufficient English teachers in the country, and the
majority of them are under-qualified and demonstrate suboptimal proficiency in the English language. This low level of English-language
ability among English teachers suggests that teachers of other subjects
would have poor English-language skills. One way of addressing this
issue is through privatization of education, a directive of global agents

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

which had to be abandoned due to mass protests by people and a

directive that global agents are still trying vehemently to implement.
ADB sector report (2007b) states that The political economy context
of Sri Lanka also makes it impossible to invest in private universities,
although there is no explicit legal barrier (p. 3).
The report also mentions that Sri Lankas compliance with major
loan-recovery covenants was successful, with the exception of some.
Among covenants with which Sri Lanka did not comply was . . . costsharing through the charging of fees, which was not politically feasible
because the introduction of fees required a major policy change in a
country where tuition-free public university education has been the
norm (p.13).
Ironically, however, the same report admits the benefits of the free
education policy of the country and urges the government to privatize
education in order to recover costs.
The strategic government decision to introduce free education,
scholarships for disadvantaged students, mid-day meals, free textbooks, free uniforms, and subsidized transport enabled Sri Lanka to
achieve an adult literacy rate of 90.7% in 2001 from 87.2% in 1981
(both census years). (p. 1)
Through policy dialogue, ADB had urged the Government to
improve efficiency through good governance, and sustainability of
the education system through cost recovery and partnerships with
the private sector. (p. 14)

Private schools will enjoy the same status that their counterparts
enjoyed during colonial times. Therefore, the move to change the
medium-of-instruction policy through privatization of educational
establishments will recreate the discrepancies in terms of educational
outcomes that were prevalent during colonial times between the few
who know English and are socially and economically capable, and the
many who do not know English and are socially and economically
It is my contention that pedagogies and their applications in ELT are
adopted without respect for the culturally situated practices of learning. As far as the ELT pedagogic practices in Sri Lanka are concerned,
teachers have long been negligent of the language learning styles and
strategies of learners and thereby have failed to conceptualize how they
are situated within their indigenous educational heritage. Instead of
acknowledging and respecting the strategic preferences prompted to
students by the educational ethos prevalent in the country, pedagogic
practices have been implemented as and when they became fashionable. The fact that an approach has worked well in one part of the world

Indigenous Educational Systems and ELT in Sri Lanka

and was preferred by those upon whom it was tried does not necessarily mean that it would work equally well with communities in other
parts of the world.
For example, Canagarajahs work (1999) explored in detail the pedagogic choices of ESL learners in Jaffna, and established the preferred
pedagogic preferences of learners to be product oriented rather than
process oriented. Within the two pedagogic orientations to ELT, different kinds of learning strategies are promoted to and expected of the
learners, an aspect that I have dealt with in detail in relation to the
Sri Lankan ESL learners elsewhere (Liyanage, 2003). My intent is not
to establish the superiority of one approach over the other, but to make
clear that pedagogic adoptions need to be considerate of ground realities
and grow bottom-up rather than top-down. For bottom-up approaches
to be implemented, training of language teachers needs to be sensitive to the sociocultural contexts in which they practise (Liyanage and
Bartlett, 2008) and based on the primordial ties and the indigenous
educational ethos prevalent in those contexts.
The training of English teachers and teacher trainers, and the development of ELT materials with the aid of global agents, seem to disregard those ground-level realities. For example, the programmes geared
towards teacher training and material development clearly favour a
process oriented approach. For example, the completion report of
TETD (The World Bank, 2006a) states that an Activity Based Oral English (ABOE) programme was sponsored to train 1,831 teachers up to
June 2005, and another programme to train 25,000 teachers was being
processed. Therefore, a forceful imposition of pedagogies that represent
the interests, cultures and ideologies of those countries and communities that produce them (Delpit, 1995; Muchiri et al., 1995; Canagarajah,
1999) and misinformed choices have led to the existence of a wide gap
between people who are and are not proficient in English.
In the following section of this chapter, the findings of an empirical study (Liyanage, 2004) that explored the relationship between
Sri Lankan ESL learners ethnoreligious backgrounds, as demarcated
by their indigenous educational heritage, and their preferred language
learning strategy choices will be discussed to validate the importance
of inherent educational ethos in pedagogic choices.

Indigenous educational practices and

Sri Lankan ESL learners
Language-learning strategies by definition are . . . the special thoughts
or behaviours that individuals use to help them comprehend, learn or
retain new information (OMalley and Chamot, 1990: 1) or the specific

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

actions taken by the learner to make learning easier, faster, more enjoyable, more self-directed, more effective and more transferable to new
situations (Oxford, 1990: 8). Therefore, by definition, language learners use of strategies is deliberate and conscious and, hence, reveal or
mirror the preferences of how the learners venture to learn a target
A group of almost 1,000 ESL students in six government schools in
Sri Lanka comprised the participants for the study. These schools belong
to and operate under a Ministry of Education in the Sri Lankan government. The participants comprised approximately an equal number of
males and females from the countrys three dominant subcultures, as
demarcated by ethnicity, language and religion. The instrument used
for the investigation of language-learning strategy preferences was an
adapted version of Chamot et al.s (1987) Language Learning Strategy
Inventory (LLSI), which was translated into Sinhala and Tamil. The
instrument gathered information on 7 metacognitive, 15 cognitive, and
4 social/affective aspects in five learning contexts: speaking in class,
listening in class, speaking and listening outside class, reading and
writing. For a detailed description of reliability statistics and statistical
analyses see Liyanage (2004).
The findings indicated that there is a significant (p < 0.001) association between the students ethnoreligious backgrounds and metacognitive, cognitive and social/affective strategy types.
Variations in preferred strategies among the three groups indicate
three preferred ways of learning. The estimated marginal means for
metacognitive, cognitive and social/affective strategies indicate that
Muslim subjects use all three strategy types more than do Tamil and
Sinhalese participants, and Tamil subjects report using all three strategy types more than do Sinhalese subjects. The marginal means for ethnicity and language learning strategy types are graphed in Figure 11.1.
When the individual strategies that form the three strategy types
were investigated in relation to ethnicity/religion, five metacognitive
strategies, eight cognitive strategies, and two social/affective strategies were significantly (p < 0.001) associated with ethnicity/religion.
Students reported frequent use of the metacognitive, cognitive and
social/affective strategies that are significantly associated with ethnicity/religion is tabulated as percentages in Table 11.1. For example,
81.8 per cent of the Sinhalese who are Buddhists, 85.9 per cent of
the Tamils who are Hindus and 86.7 per cent of the Muslims who are
adherents of Islam preferred self-evaluation as a metacognitive strategy
in learning to write in English.
It is not within the scope of this chapter to discuss all strategy preferences in relation to learners ethnoreligious identity. For a detailed

Indigenous Educational Systems and ELT in Sri Lanka


Average scores




Ethnicity / Religion


Sinhalese (Buddhism)
Tamil (Hinduism)
Muslim (Islam)




Language Learning Strategies

Figure 11.1 Relationship between ethnicity and language learning strategy (av)

Table 11.1 Ethnicity/religion and reported use of metacognitive, cognitive and

social/affective strategies
Learning Context

Language Learning

Sinhala Tamil Muslim
Buddhist Hindu Islam


Speaking in class

Listening and
speaking outside

Organizational Planning












Organizational Planning








Advance Organization












Organizational planning







Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

Table 11.1 (Continued)

Learning Context

Listening in class

Language Learning

Sinhala Tamil Muslim
Buddhist Hindu Islam

Note taking




























Note taking




















Social Affective
Questioning for







Listening and speak- Questioning for

ing outside class








Speaking in class



Listening in class
Speaking in class


discussion of how strategy preferences are related to students ethnoreligious upbringing, readers are referred to the original study (Liyanage,
2004). However, in the ensuing paragraphs, a few of these strategies are
discussed in relation to learners indigenous educational backgrounds.
Advance organization involves previewing the main idea and concepts of the material to be learned, often by skimming the text for the
organising principle (Chamot et al., 1987: 136). Advance organization is a strategy that is in harmony with the teaching practices in the
indigenous educational systems, and the preference for this strategy
is an influence of these systems on the learning process. Buddhism,

Indigenous Educational Systems and ELT in Sri Lanka

Hinduism and Islam all have three religious texts: the Tripitaka, Vedas
and Quran. Up until the present day school system was introduced to
the country, it was believed by the followers of all three religious faiths
that all they had to learn was written in these sacred books, and anyone who knew them was regarded in the highest esteem. The contents
in these sacred texts are arranged in a sequential order and learning
of these contents was also done in a sequential order. The preference
for advance organization indicates the students need and willingness,
as conditioned by these ideals, to learn the content material sequentially and systematically. This finding is also in line with other studies
(Canagarajah, 1996) that found Sri Lankan students compliance with
organized, structured teacher-directed lessons.
All three groups show a preference for note taking as a cognitive strategy while listening in class and reading. Note taking involves writing
down key concepts during a listening or reading activity. As mentioned
earlier, in traditional Buddhist, Hindu and Islam educational practices,
listening has an important place. Both Buddhist and Hindu religions and
their educational practices were passed down through the oral tradition.
Imparting of knowledge was primarily through teacher talk. Students
were expected to listen and remember. For example, one of the mottos
of Buddhist educational practice is Suna`tha, Dha`retha, Chara`tha.
This motto, the translation of which means listen, remember, and put
into practice, again emphasizes the sequential order in which the students are expected to learn and listen with a view to remembering. As
has been discussed earlier, in Hindu educational practice the emphasis
on shravana, manana and nididhyasana also indicates the expectations of sequential learning and an emphasis on listening with the idea
of remembering. Note taking is a strategy that helps students memorize
new information. The preference for this strategy both in listening and
reading can be interpreted as a result of a possible impact those religious educational traditions may still have on students.
Repetition involves the exact imitation, including oral or silent practice, of a language model. Of the three groups, Muslims indicated the
highest preference for repetition while learning to read. In particular,
the Islamic expectation that students should memorize the Quran by
reciting it over and over again to a rhythm (Khusro, 1981) may explain
why Muslims prefer this strategy more than do the members of the
other two religions. Also, in general, a higher preference for this strategy by all three groups may result from how students were educated in
religious texts before the Western school education system was introduced to the country. The only way to measure students learning was
to measure how much they could remember. Thus, students learnt
these religious and other accompanying literary texts through various

Globalization of Language and Culture in Asia

means that helped them remember information. One of the favourite

ways to remember is through frequent repetition, and this strategy was
constantly encouraged in the traditional educational practices. For
example, in Dhammapadaya,8 repetition while reading is encouraged
as Asajjhya mala` mantha`, meaning that one that is not repeated
gathers rust.
Indigenous educational ethos is deeply rooted in the Sri Lankan
community, and the findings indicate that students adopt ways (strategies) that are promoted to them by the indigenous educational systems.
An important question to consider is whether teaching methods can
enable effective language learning without considering the strategies
students utilize in learning a target language. These indigenous educational practices based on primordial ties are however downplayed
by the agents of globalization. For them, these educational practices
are old, counterproductive, and not conducive to individual development, and, therefore, should be replaced. ADB in its Sri Lanka Country
Assistance Program Evaluation report (ADB, 2007b) expresses these
sentiments as follows:
. . . the traditional rote learning process in schools has seen little
change but a beginning has been made . . . (p. 16)
A major problem in secondary education has been the piecemeal
introduction of changes in the curriculum that have not impinged
qualitatively on the teaching-learning process and on teacher education. The rote learning process therefore continues, providing
little space for activity-based teaching and learning that will, inter
alia, develop generic personal skills and human values, which
will impact positively on both individual development and employability. (p. 25)

These findings once again remind us that pedagogical approaches
should not only grow within the sociocultural contexts of the learners
and incorporate aspects indigenous to the particular culture to which
they belong, but also recognize the socially situated modes of learning.
The aim of such approaches would be to maximize and benefit the process of target language learning through strategies naturally preferred
and sought by the students, as pedagogical approaches may not be as
effective as they are intended to be when they centre on strategies that
are not naturally favoured by students.
Therefore, instead of going back and implementing medium-ofinstruction policies that should partly be blamed for the ELT situation
in the country, and succumbing to the demands and policies of the

Indigenous Educational Systems and ELT in Sri Lanka

super powers, we need to wake up to the realities and mistakes we have

made ever since we became a republic and seriously ask such questions as whether those policies can narrow the existing gulf between
those who are and are not proficient in English; that is, we need to ask
whether these policies can provide an equitable education in the country. The medium-of-instruction policy (English medium) failed during
the period of the British in the country, at least in the case of the majority Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim population. The failure at the time was
due partly to lack of resources and insufficient qualified personnel
shortcomings that still exist in the country. Therefore, the reimplementation of a failed policy to comply with the directions from global forces
would mean the deprivation not only of English to its masses, but also
of the knowledges of other content areas. If this happens, in implementing the global directives, local aspirations will undoubtedly suffer.

1. In literature, the words Sinhala and Sinhalese are used interchangeably to
refer to the language group and ethnicity.
2. Sri Lankan Muslims ethnicity is Moor. However, in Sri Lanka their ethnic and religious identities are essentially the same and are interchangeably
used. In this chapter the word Muslim is used to refer to their ethnicity.
3. Tamil Nadu is the southernmost Tamil state in India which is very close to
the Jaffna peninsula of Sri Lanka.
4. The Upanishads (in Sanskrit, upa means near, ni is down, and sad is
sit to sit down near to, that is, to sit at the feet of the guru) comprise the
nal portion of the revealed part of the Vedas (Stepaniants and Behuniak,
2002: 107).
5. The Thirumurais consist of the Thevaram and Thiruvacakam and the philosophical texts. The Thevaram and Thiruvacakam are collections of hymns
of the Saivite saints of the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth centuries A.D.
written in simple, easily understood language (K. M. De Silva, 1977: 390).
6. . . . a primary school often attached to a mosque, the chief business of
which is to instruct boys (and girls) in those portions of the Koran
(Aeez, 1969: 1147).
7. State-supported secondary schools (Azeez, 1969).
8. One of the 15 textbooks that belongs to Khuddhaka Nikaya in the
Buddhist Pali Canon.

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Note: Numbers in bold refer to tables and figures.

Abaza, M. 44
Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir Munshi36
Abelmann, N.92
Abu Bakar Hamzah41
A Bull in China 25
Activity Based Oral English (ABOE)
Adams, L. D.99
ADB see Asian Development Bank
Adegbija, E.108
Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jamaah,
Akita International University67
al-akhirah (the hereafter)51
Al-Attas, S. M. N.379
Al-Azhar University of Cairo44
al-dunya (temporal world)51
Alexander, R.128
non-religious sciences or profane
knowledge (fard kifayah)37
religious sciences or sacred
knowledge (shariah)37
Ali Riaz, 46
Alsagoff, L.43, 89
Anglo-vernacular schools211, 216
Annamalai, E.121
anti-globalization movement3
Appadurai, A.23, 56, 10, 36, 75,
77, 165, 170, 207
Applebee, A.188
applied linguistics3, 1011

global language10
Arabic language
and Diniah (religious
The Holy Quran38
Jawi/Al-Quran/fard ain52
justification, five reasons50
language of Islam 48
rise of 524
Semitic language family38
shariah or hadith38
in South East Asia6
third language programme53
zikr and hafz (memorization)38
Arel, D.76
Ariyapala, M. B.209
Asajjhya mala` mantha` 224
Asian Development Bank (ADB)207,
21214, 21718, 224
Asian financial crisis5, 8, 168
Asmah, H. O.39, 1812
Auerbach, E.171
autocratic democracy 185
Azimah, I.198
Azyumardi Azra.36
Bachelors of Education in Elementary
Bae, S.90
Bahasa Malaysia192, 1956, 1989,



Bahasa Melayu1812, 184, 186,

1945, 199200
Baker, C.162
Bakken, B.146
Baldauf, R. B.1812, 185
Baldauf, R. B. Jr.144
Bartlett, B.219
Basic Education Sector Programme
basic interpersonal communication
skills (BICS)1878
Basic Multilingual Panes (BMP)154
BBC Chinese.com25
Bhabha, H. K.77
Bhagwati, J.2, 89
Bhattacharya, R.121, 1301
Bibi Jan Mohd Ayyub51
Big Five151
bilingual education system31, 151
Bishop, T.151
Blake, R.111
blind obedience or taqlid41
Block, D.162, 166, 183
Blommaert, J.5, 10
blood purism 73
Boli, J.125
Bourdieu, P.83, 99, 163
Braine, G.214
Brann, C. M. B.216
Brazil, Russia, India and China
Brinton, D.197
British neocolonial policy171
Brock-Utne, B.212
Brodkey, D.214
Brown, R. W.212
Bruthiaux, P.910
Brutt-Griffler, J.68, 171
Buang, S. 6, 3455
Buddhism, 39, 109, 2089, 209, 2213
Buddhist educational practice223
Burde, A. S.121
Business Processes Outsourcing
(BPOs)120, 134
Butler, Y. G.623, 66, 76


Cahoone, L. E.207
Cameron, D.162, 166, 183
Canagarajah, S. A.106, 132, 214
Canton, J.95
Carless, D. R.174
census report of the Government of
Sri Lanka (2001)215
Central Board of Secondary
Education (CBSE)125
Centre of Excellence in English
Education (CEIEE)214
Ceylon, 109, 208
Chamot, A. U.21920, 222
Chapman, K.201
Chee, M. W. L.85
Chelliah, D. D.36
Che Noraini Hashim445
Chew, G. L. P.4, 82101
character computerization149, 157
character encoding system
GB2313 27
GB18030 27
Communist Party146
critical language20
Cultural Revolution15
diaspora15, 1719
factory of the world 16
hanzi140, 145, 148
open-door policy16
powerhouse, economic16
-rich computer tools22
soft power23
State information Center95
supremacy, economic17
writing system141
China Population and Employment
Statistics Yearbook200817
Chinese as a Foreign Language
(CFL)15, 201, 27, 2932
Chinese/Japanese/Korean Joint
Research Group (CJK-JRG)152
Chinese languages (CL)26, 139
linguistics and sociolinguistics26


major academic subject31

Mandarin 26
proficiency tests, 20, 29
spoken and written, barriers140
Cho, B. E.95
Choi, Y.173
Choong Kam Foong187, 189, 1934
choral recitation1289, 1314
Clark, P.135
Clegg, S.197
Clyne, M. G.148
cognitive academic language
proficiency (CALP)1878
Cohen, A.167
COKE Company7
Cold War63
Collins, F. L.84, 87
colonialism, 63, 108, 1667
Commission of Script Reform
comprehensive table of standardized
characters (CTSC)1435, 147
Compulsory Education (CE) Act, 47,
68, 69, 147
computer encoding systems27
Confucius Institutes (CI)20, 23
context embedded
environments 188
Cook, R. S.133, 151, 1534
Corpus of whole Chinese characters
Chinese characters in China145
corpus planning and status
planning646, 114, 182
Coulmas, F.64, 74
crony capitalism 8
Crystal, D.1415, 17, 21, 166
cultural globalization3, 78, 212
cultural homogenization/
Cultural Revolution1516, 2930,
Cummins, J.1878
Curriculum Development Project
(CDP) scheme48
cyberspace globalization156

Daniels, J. L.183
Daniels, N. C.183
Das, G.120, 123
Dasgupta, P.121
David, M. K.25, 107, 175, 185
De Alwis, E. H.216
decimal system8
decoding process141
Delpit, L. D.132, 219
Democracy Movement of 1989146
Department for International
Development (DFID)207, 212
Department of Language and
Information Management142
Department of Social Use of
Language and Script142
De Silva, K. M.208, 210
de Souza, D.214
Devashayam, Theresa W.84, 99
Dharmadasa, K. N. O.107
diffusion-of-English paradigm 75
Diploma in English for Teachers of
English (DETE)11516
Director of Japan Immigration Policy
District Primary Education Program
Dor, D.6, 223
Dou, Delong21
Douglas, S.34
Duhamel, D.88, 95
Dutch language42, 44
ecology-of-language paradigm 75
economic commodities 166, 183
economic globalization2
economic migration see linguistic
Economist1, 2, 4, 811, 16, 94, 123,
Economist magazine8
Act of1961 45
in English, 109, 113
Foreign language62
free education for all policy in
Sri Lanka109



Education (Contd)
in Malaysia45
Education for Knowledge Society
Project (EKSP)21314
Education Sector Development
Framework and Program
Education Sector Development
Program (ESDP)213
Einstein, A.126
Emerson, R.181
English education173
common class management
English fever 162
English for Academic Purposes
Instruction (EAP)107, 214
English for Teaching Mathematics
and Science (ETeMS)180,
Buddy Support System191
Phase1 ETeMS 18990
Phase2 ETeMS 1901
Alpha, Beta and Gamma
5-pronged strategy189
English (language)67, 401, 49
conversation classes174
dominant language31
dual-medium education121
in elementary schools7
English in Context 134
first global language14
first language choral recitation128
international language or lingua
Japans second language67
language entres87
language skills217
as linguistic capital 163
medium education113
premium languages85
as the link language 110
English language teaching (ELT)34,
English Language Teaching Centre


English Language Teaching Units

expert knowledge and local
English Program in Korea
teachers requirements169
entertainment value 173, 175
epoch-making (kakkiteki) 74
ethnic groups, Sri Lanka
Indo-Aryan language208
Dravidian language208
Indian Tamils208
Sri Lankan Tamils208
Fairclough, N.75, 77
Fei, J. C.144
Ferguson, C.76
Fernando, C.215
Fernando, S.110
First Table of Variant Forms143, 151
First World Conference on Muslim
Fishman, J. A.745
Five Year Plan for English Education
Revitalization 169
flat world 9
Flood, G.210
Flows of technology 2, 45, 13958
see also Mandarin, global
foreign Student Tracking System91
Fotos, S.62, 77
Four Fixations 143
Free Trade Policy 212
Friedman, T. L.89, 211
Frisby, A. W.41
Fukuda administration67
Fuller, B.123
Funabashi Y.67
Gamage, S.112
Gandhi, M. K.3


GB231280 151
General Education Project
General List of Print Fonts of Chinese
General List of Simplified
genjitsu-ha (realism/pragmatism) 64
Giddens, A.4
Gill, S. K.3, 756, 180202
global English3, 5, 7, 1617,
global financial crisis5
census results or sociolinguistic
Guillen, indicators by5
rankings dimensions4
and applied linguistics1011
in Asia58
aspects of globalization5
processes of globalization5
benign process8
ethnoscapes 165
financescapes 165
homogenizing process165
ideoscapes 165
mediascapes 165
mismanagement of9
nature, definition see nature of
globalization, defining
technoscapes 165
Global Mandarin1432
barriers to spread of279
national loyalty vs. international
orthographical barriers27
teething problems29
Chinas resurgence, impact of1617
current status256
global spread1723
global status of language,
numerical definition15

mass media235
problems of nomenclature,
defining Mandarin267
teaching Chinese (international
global market165
global outlook 114
global village 82
principal forms, three
cultural capital83
economic capital83
social capital83
glocalization 165
Goh, C. T.88
Gomez, J.198
good English 89, 216
Good Practice (GP) government67
Goonetilleke, D. C. R. A.214
Gopinathan, S.6
Gottlieb, N.656
Goundry, N.1545
Gourd, K.67
government school system9, 108,
Govindasamy, S.107, 185
Graddol, D.16, 25, 28, 32, 94, 100
Gray, J.162, 1656
Grigorenko, E. L.122
grounded theory 1067
Guillen, M. F.5, 910, 107
Gunesekera, M.110, 116
Gupta, S.121
Hall, S.165
Halpe, A.112
Hamidah Ab Rahman197
Han (Chinese character)
Hancock, John22
Hannum, E.123
Hanson-Smith, E.212, 214
hanzi writing system
antique scripts140
characters-in-use 140
computer input problem141
cultural rim150



hanzi writing system (Contd)

encoding and decoding hanzi in
input hanzi into computers141
language policy142
outputting process141
paper-based characters or
characters-in-storage 140
Hao, S. D.148
Hashimoto, K.76
Hassan, A.198
Hassan Langgulung445
Hayes, D.212
Heller, M.166
Henry, M.115
He, Q. X.155
heritage digitalization,
Hevawasam, P. B. J.209
Hifni bin Muhd Ali.50
Higher Education Project (HEP)213
high language (H-language)39
Hindi speakers67
Hindu educational practice20910
Siddhanta school of Saivism210
shravana, manana and
hiragana (phonogram)62
Hishamuddin, H.195
Ho, A. L.88
Hong Kongs Native-speaking English
Teachers program (NET)164
Hong, U. H.167
Hornberger, N. H.128
Horowitz, D. L.181
Huntington, S. P.2
Huntingtons theory2
Husain, S. S.211
Husna Yusop201
Hu, W.945
hybridity or global melange 23
hybridization 77, 165
hybrid Mandarin29


hyogai-kanji list65
hyo-i ha (pro-ideogram)64
hyo-on ha (pro-phonogram)64
ideograph-based input programs142
Ideographic Rapporteur Group
Iino, M.7, 6178
Illi Liyana M.198
Imperial Family line73
Improving Relevance and Quality
of Undergraduate Education
(IRQUE)10910, 11213, 213
culturally contextualized pedagogy
choral recitation1289
educational goals and
English supplementation by
mother tongue as resource
reforming pedagogy1346
teacher centredness1312
pedagogic practice, describing
Transcript1: 8 April2004,
Grade3, 1245, 125
Transcript2: 15 October2005,
Grade12, 1256, 1256
Transcript3: 17 October2006,
Grade11, 1268, 1278
site and data collection
data collection124
presentation of transcripts124
Indonesia, Muhammadiyah of42
information communication
technology (ICT)110
information technology (IT)
revolution22, 183
Information Technology Master Plan
Inoue, F.67
input scheme pollution 142
international aid agencies207
International Christian University


International Development
Association (IDA)207, 212,
International Monetary Fund
(IMF)910, 207, 212
Internet World Stats23
Isahak Haron196
Islam and place of education
educational practice21011
kuttab, or Quranic school211
madrasa, secondary school211
maktab, primary school211
Islam or hashiah (critiques)39
knowledge in impacts on
knowledge in religious
Arabic language38
English language401
Malay language and
Islamic Educational, Scientific
and Cultural Organization
Islamization process36
IT see information technology (IT)
coding system156
inbound migration6972
major nationality71
total population70
JapaneseEnglish bilingualism75
JapanRusso War (19041905)63
JapanSino War (18941895)63
LDP Nakagawa plan724
outbound migration689
children residing outside
overseas residents and their
school in Shanghai69
Japan Exchange and Teaching
program (JET)1634
Javanese language39

Jenkins, J.101
Jeong, Y-K.93, 162
Jeon, M.16177
Jewitt, C.121
Jochi University (Sofia
Johnstone, B.124
Jones, S. P.162, 207
Jordan, D. K.148
Jorden, E.66
j-QAF 52
Jung, S.168
jus sanguinis = right of blood 73
jus soli = right of soil 73
Kachru, B. B.94, 166
Kachrus model17
native users, 1718
Zhongyuan (central plains)17
non-native users, 201
CFL courses20
TCFL, prospects of20
second language users, 1819
lingua franca18
overseas Chinese
Singapore and Malaysia19
Kachru, Y.171
Kagan, S.188
kaikoku, third64
Kaiser, S.66
Kamar Oniah Kamaruzaman46
Kamsiah Abdullah.51
Kamsilawati K.192, 194
Kangxi Dictionary151
kentei (examination for kanji
yamato kotoba62
Kanno, Y.69
Kaplan, R. B.166, 1812, 185
Karma or duty135



Kato, H.72
Kearney, A. T./Foreign Policy
Globalization Index56, 90
Keidel, A.16
Kelegama, S.212
Kenway, J.183
Khan, M. W.59
Khattab, U.200
Khiruddin, A.192, 194
Khubchandani, L.121
Khusro, S. A. M.223
kikokusei (returnees)69
Kim, K. S.93
Kim, S. S.163, 1678
King, A. D.3
Kirova, A.99
Kitao, K. S.63
Ko, K. H.87, 92
Kokugo (national language)76
council for Japanese language64
kanbun (classical Chinese poems
and literature)76
kobun (classical Japanese
shigin and shiika (classical
Kokusai Bunka Shinkou Kyokai71
Komori, Y.65
Kon, Y. H.1867
Koo, H.163
globalization policy161
industrialization in95
Ministry of Education161
Krishnaswamy, N.121
Kubota, R.77, 165
Kubota, Y.166
Kumaravadivelu, B.10, 122, 130
Kumaravadivelus essay122
Kurlantzick, Joshua23
Kwon, O.168
Kysilka, M.210
Lakshman, W. D.207, 212


Lambert, B. H.91
Langer, J.188
language and culture, Asia111
globalization and applied
globalization in Asia58
globalization measurement45
nature of globalization,
see also globalization
Language and Information
Management Department147
language idealism and realism6178
language contact in Japan624
recent language issues in Japan
English language education668
language and nationalism646
migration and language6874
language-in-education policy183
Language Learning Strategy
Inventory (LLSI)21920, 220
social/affective strategies220
language proficiency114
Language Situation in China Report:
2005 20
language zone 22
large-scale diasporas 75
learning about Islam 52
Lebra, T. S.76
Lee, H. W.95
Lee, S.25, 31, 72
Lee, T. J.93
Lee, Y.-J.163, 1689
Leow Bee Geok48
Levine, D. N.207
Levitt, P.83
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)62
Nakagawa plan724
Lingard, B.115
linguistic migration83
astronaut husbands studies84
feminization of migration84
safe havens 84
satellite kids 84
linguistic mothering 85


linguistic neoimperialism166
Linguistic purism77
literature (hikayat)40
Little, A. W.214
Liu, J.93
Liu, Z. J.149
Liyanage, I.10, 20625
Li, Y. M.140, 145, 147
Lo Bianco, J.10910, 212, 216
local education system93
Local Standard English (LSE)89
lost decade 76
Lowe, V.200
Luk, J. C. M.136
Lunde, K.153
madrasah (Muslim educational
Al-Iqbal in Singapore41
Al-Masyhur in Penang41
economy and values-orientation
six madrasahs43
students in Indonesia35
students in Malaysia35
students in2007 (Singapore)35
Mahathir Mohamad75, 184
Mair, V. H.142, 152
Majlis Ugama Islam of Singapore
Malaysia/Malay language389, 44,
49, 180202
buddy system1945
challenges for teachers1867
change in language policy1846
ELTC programs189
English competency192
in-service training193
lack of networking (post-training)
language of translation 52
MaSTT 1912
or national language45
self-instructional materials1934
voices for and against ETEMS

Malaysian English Language Teaching

Associations (MELTA)194
Mandarin, global
lingua franca15
spread, 15, 18
CL-operated IT 213
native users1718
non-native users201
second language users1819
see also Kachrus model
see also global Mandarin
Mandarin in cyberspace13958
common script across
CTSC 1435
CWCC 1458
exploring solutions14850
Hanzi and technology1413
limitation of technology1504
Mandarin learners
language use on internet6
Martin Jacques 18
mass media
Mandarin TV channels234
print media, 245
Mathematics and Science Trainer
Training (MaSTT)191
Mathews, B.227
Matthews, J.84
Mazlish, B.10
McArthur, T.36
McCarty, T. L.108
Mecca for Education 87
Mehrotra, S.209
Meiji era62
Mena, M. M.87
Meyer, D.154
Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew
(MM Lee)91
Ministry of Education, Culture,
Sports, Science and
Technology (MEXT)66
driving forces, Butler667
survey in2004 66



Ministry of Education Survey49

modernist globalization 165
Mohd. Aidil Subhan51
Mookerji, R. K.210
moral values or adab37
Mosback, G.212
Muchiri, M. N.219
multilingualism 75
Munsyi Abdullahs learning40
Murdoch, G.214
Muslim community48
Muslim education3454
fard ain/fard kifayah/naqli and
Islam and place of
re-(de)positioning of languages
reformist movement and (re)
positioning of languages425
rise of Arabic language524
Mustapa, M.201
Nakajima, K.74
Narasimha Rao, P. V. Indias Prime
National Education Policy44, 182
National Flagship Language
Initiative 20
National Institute for International
Education Development169
Nationalist Party150
national school system3, 112,
1212, 135
National Union of the Teaching
Profession (NUTP)195
nation-based writing systems149
Nation wide conferences144
native speakers1416, 21, 77, 94,
161, 163, 1656, 1701, 1756,
187, 215
native speaking English teachers
(NSETs)163, 169
nature of globalization, defining24
Arjun Appadurai definition23
Bhagwatis definition
significance of flows 2


Pieterse (cultural anthropologist)

cultural aspects of
Newfield, D.121
Nirmala, M.96
Noguchi, M. G.62, 77
Nomura, T.645
non-native speakers1516, 29, 767,
161, 166, 176
Noraini Idris, Loh, S. C.187
Norman, J.26
Norton, B.168
Nunan, D.94
Nursherrina bte Basir Ahmad197
Nyberg-Sorenson, N.83
Obeng, S. G.108
Office of Chinese Language Council
International (OCLCI)201
official language15, 19, 37, 109, 181,
Ok, K. Y.93
OMalley, J. M.21920
Omar Awang39
Omoniyi, T.100
open discussion forum164, 1723
open-door policy16
Open Economy Policy 212
oral English, use of217, 219
Oxford, R. L.220
Pandian, A.187, 194
Pang, V.198
Parent Teacher Associations
Parish, C.212
Parker, D.188
Park, J. S. Y.90, 92, 162, 1668, 172
Partys Patriotism Education
propaganda campaign146
peaceful development strategy20, 23
Pedagogic practice 124, 128, 135,
207, 218


Pennycook, A.3, 166, 171

Perusinghe, E. A.21112, 216
Philippines4, 19, 71, 84, 96
Phillipson, R.75, 1067, 162, 166,
1701, 176, 212
phonetic input systems, or
sound-based systems142
Pieterse, J. N.21, 165
Pillay, H.186, 1889
play script way124
post-colonial age166
postmodern globalization36, 165
post-World War II, (kaikoku)745
Pre-independence era42
Primary English Language Project
Primary Mathematics Project
Primary School Leaving Examination
(PSLE)47, 96
Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong
(PM Goh)88
Prime Minister Mahathir
print media245
Private Higher Educational
Institutions Act (PHEIA)200
private or corporate sector114
process oriented approach219
professionalism, 108, 11314
Program for School Improvement
props (physical objects)188
Provincial Office of Education
public school system112
Punchi, L.212
purism, belief system 77
Qin Dynasty150
qingjinlai welcome era of TCFL
Quek, Y. T.91, 96
Quranic vocabulary48
Raheem, R.214
Rahman Talib Report45

Rajagopalan, K.107
Rajapakse, S.108
Rajkiya Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalay
gurukuls 132
gurushishya relationship132
Hindi and English medium123
indirect method 134
occupation 1234
Ramaiah, R.187, 194
Ramanathans book1212
Ramanathan, V.129
Ranaweera, M.111
Ratwatte, H.214
Razak Education Commission182
Razak Report45
Reagan, T. G.20911
re-(de)positioning of
English languages502
madrasahs varied strategies
Islamization of knowledge467
pragmatism and reforms478
Malay language4850
rise of English language4850
see also Muslim education
Redja Mudyahardjo44
Reed, Y.121
reformist movement and (re)positioning
of languages425
nationalism and Malay
subjects offered in madrasah43
see also Muslim education
Reid, A.157
reinforcing foreign language
education slogan169
reinforcing globalization education
rekishi-ha (pro-history/
traditionalism) 64
Renminbi (RMB), currency of China17
Resisting Linguistic Imperialism in
English Teaching107



Ricento, T.76, 106

Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific
Ritzer, G.165
Ritzers (2008) theory of
Rizvi, F.115
Robertson, R.165
Rogers, J.25
Rohan Nizam bin Basheer51
Rosnani, H.445, 196, 199
Rosowsky, A.6
Rubdy, R.1, 122
Ruberu, R. T.211
Rukhaidah Sahid52
Sabanayagam, N.198
sacrificial mothers 85
Sakamura, K.155
Sakanaka, H.74
sakoku policy62
Salaff, J. W.84
Samarakkody, M.214
Saqib, G. N.46
anger 130
Hindi (Gussa)130
Urdu (Naraazgi)130
Schiffman, H. F.77
School of International Liberal
Studies of Waseda
Searle, S. J.155
Secondary Education Development
Project (SEDP)213
Secondary Education Modernisation
Project (SEMP)212, 214
Second General Education Project
segyehwa globalization168
Sekolah Agama Rakyat (SAR)35, 45
Sekolah Arab (Arabic school)42
Sen, A.2, 89
Shaik, M. A.34
Shen, K. C.143
Shin, H.1668
Shinil, K.209


Shin, J. S.167
Shinjuku-ku, 71
Shiva, V.89
in Sanskrit129
in Vedas129
shutongwen (common script)150
Sidhu, R.84
Siku Quanshu156
Singapore, 82101
buyers: linguistic motivations925
costs and rewards of linguistic
group discussions856
neo-Confucian ideology6
pan-Chinese/pan-Indian culture7
seller(s): strategies, 8792
Sinhala Only Act 216
Sinhala or Tamil medium
Sinographic signs152
Skills Development Project
Sklair, L.3, 8
Skutnabb-Kangas, T.75, 166
social integration law 73
socialization process40
Sociology of Education122
Soh, W. L.96
Somasegaram, S. U.20810
Sonntag, S. K.167
Southeast Asia3454
see also Muslim education
South Korea16176
EPIK 16971
discipline and power1735
global English and Koreas
private tuition market93
Speak Good English Movement
spoken style (genbun ittchi)64
Spolsky, B.76, 96
spread of English 75
Sri Lanka20625


Buddhist educational practice209

ELT and globalization21112
global agents/education/ELT 21214
Hindu educational practice20910
indigenous educational practices
and ESL learners21924
ethnicity and language learning
and social/affective
Islamic educational
medium-of-instruction policy and
ELT pedagogy21619
Ministry of Education in212
General Education Project
people and indigenous educational
proficiency divide21416
Sri Lankan English (SLE)116
Sri Lankas education
system10617, 111
agents of globalization11012
local responses
DETE 11516
place of English10810
staff redeployment51
Standard Sri Lankan English 110
State Commission of Language Work
Stein, P.121
study mothers (pei du mama)
82, 84
Asian mothers89
Chinese mothers86
financial and social insecurity98
Korean mothers86
Singapores publicity88
study mothers industry99
see also Singapore
Subramaniam, G.192, 194, 198
Sugimoto. Y.77
Sugino, T.74
symbols of ethnic or national
identity 183

Table of Common Chinese Characters

Tagore, R.3
Tamarai Chelvi201
Tambiah, S. J.109
Tanaka, K.72
Tan, E. S.89
taxi 28
chuzuche, rent-car (Singapore)28
dadi (taking taxi)28
dishi and deshi (Hong Kong and
jichengche (Taiwan)28
mianbaoche, bread-car
Taylor, S.115
Tay, S. H. S.76
Teacher Deployment Project
teaching Chinese (international
Chinese language proficiency tests,
Chinese universities30
Teaching of Chinese as a Foreign
Language (TCFL)15
Teaching of English to Speakers of
Other Languages (TESOL)107,
170, 175
technology revolution13940
Teens aLive programmes51
television development24
Chinese TV media worldwide24
Mandarin TV channels24
regional Mandarin TV channels24
two phases24
tenet one nation, one script 150
Tertiary education67, 98, 10813,
122, 200
textual cycle 121
Thatcher, J.162
The Straits Times50, 534, 83
The Times of Indi, 125, 134
Thomas, M.186, 1889
Thompson, J. B.176



Tickoo, M. L.121, 134

Time magazine Asia25
Toh, M.88, 98
Tollefson, J. W.184, 1956
Torikai, K.66
traditional Chinese music28
huayue (Chinese music)28
minyue (ethnic music)28
zhongyue (China music)28
traditional Three Language Formula
Trained Graduate Teachers
transnational family, Singapore see
Tsuda, Y.75
Tsui, A. B. M.184, 1956
Tweens aLive 51
ulama (religious scholars or clerics)
ummah (Muslim global
community)50, 53
Unger, J. M.65, 155
Han Unification Rule152
hexagram symbols149
Japanese character153
Source Separation Rule152
Womens Script and Taos149
Unihan disambiguation 154
Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris
University of Cambridge
University of Kelaniya116
Vaish, V.111, 12037, 207
vernacular schools and education41,
44, 122, 211, 216
Visit Japan campaign70
Viswanathan, G.121


Wada, E.153, 156

Warnasuriya, W. M. A.211
Waseda University67
Waters, J. L.83
WB report, funding schemes213
Wee, L.83
Weiner, M.62
Wen, Q. F.945
Westernization51, 63
Western school education
White, G.100
Wijemanne, E. L.213
Wijetunga, S.211
wild geese fathers or wild geese
family 1623
wild goose mothers
(kirogi omma)82, 85
Wilding, R.98
World Bank107
first bank mission 110
funded IRQUE projects109
General Education Project111
Teacher Education and
Development Project111
World Bank and the International
Monetary Fund9
world culture 78
worldview 51
World War II 634, 74, 77
World Wide Web4, 223
Wright, M. W.128
Wright, S.75
Xiaozhuan (Small Seal Script)150
Xu, L. L.144
Yasuda, T.64
Yayasan Parahyangan Satya
Yeoh, B. S. A.84, 85, 99
yeongeomaul (English village)168
Yeow, P. W.186
Yim, S.168
yitizi, 151, 153
Yoshino, K.77


Yuan, Jiahua26
Zainichi Koreans72
Zepeda, O.108
Zhang, C. X.147
Zhang, D. B.151

Zhang, Z. C.156
Zhao, S. H.1412, 144, 147, 151,
153, 1556
Zhou, Youguang26
Zhuan Script and Li Script147
Zulkifl i Ab. Rahman201