Register  Login  Active Topics  Maps  

How would Prof Arguelles advise?

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
QiuJP
Triglot
Senior Member
Singapore
Joined 5702 days ago

428 posts - 597 votes 
Speaks: Mandarin*, EnglishC2, French
Studies: Czech, GermanB1, Russian, Japanese

 
 Message 1 of 8
05 December 2011 at 5:44pm | IP Logged 
* Disclaimer: This is not a bashing thread. Rather, this is a thread which I hope to
have the views of language learners in determining what should have done better in the
implementation of language policies. For a small economy like Singapore, the success
of language policy can determine the survival of the country. Former Prime Minister of
Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, had taken some language policies that enable Singapore to
survive at the expense of the language abilities of his people. The following
introduces his newest book which explains and defends the decision taken.

Recently, former Prime Minister of Singapore Mr Lee Kuan Yew has wrote a book titled ”
My Lifelong Challenge: Singapore's Bilingual Journey” to explain the language policies
he have taken in the early years of Singapore’s independence. The book highlighted
several controversy decisions such as:

Quote:

My Lifelong Challenge is the story of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's 50-year struggle to transform
Singapore from a polyglot former British colony into a united nation where everyone,
while knowing English, knows at least one other language, his own mother tongue
.
The founding prime minister of Singapore tells why he did away with vernacular
schools in spite of violent political resistance, why he closed Nanyang University, why
he later started Special Assistance Plan schools, and why he continues to urge all
ethnic Chinese Singaporeans today to learn the Chinese language
.

The reader learns not only about the many policy adjustments but also the challenges Mr
Lee encountered – from Chinese language chauvinists who wanted Chinese to be the
pre-eminent language in Singapore, from Malay and Tamil community groups fearing that
Chinese were given too much emphasis, from parents of all races wanting an easier time
for their school-going children, and even from his own Cabinet colleagues questioning
his assumptions about language.



The problems mentioned above are not only found in Singapore; these problems are also
found in many countries where different groups of people are artificially placed
together in a country, such as most African nations. It is worth to discuss the
success, the failure , the benefits and the costs for implementing language policies
which try to balance the different ethic groups and beneficial for the wellbeing of the
country at the same time.

In addition, there are some articles I found which speak about the development of
languages in Singapore. Here is an extract about the Tamil language in Singapore:

Quote:

‘The Singapore educational system supports a well-developed and comprehensive bilingual
education program for its three major linguistic communities on an egalitarian basis,
so Tamil is a sort of “test-case” for how well a small language community can survive
in a multilingual society where larger groups [Chinese and Malay] are doing well. But
Tamil is acknowledged by many to be facing a number of crises; Tamil as a home language
is not being maintained by the better-educated, and Indian education in Singapore is
also not living up to the expectations many people have for it. Educated people who
love Tamil are upset that Tamil is becoming thought of as a “coolie language” and
regret this very much. Since Tamil is a language characterized by extreme diglossia,
there is the additional pedagogical problem of trying to maintain a language with two
variants, but with a strong cultural bias on the part of the educational establishment
for maintaining the literary dialect to the detriment of the spoken one



Here is an extract from the Wikipedia, which tells about the practical implementation
in schools, as well as the problem the children are facing under these policies:

Quote:

Education policies
Singapore has a bilingual education policy. All students in government schools are
educated in English as their first language. Students in Primary and Secondary schools
also learn a second language called their 'Mother Tongue' by the Ministry of Education,
where they are either taught Mandarin Chinese, Malay or Tamil . English is the language
of instruction in all government schools with time provided for mother tongue lessons
on a weekly basis. Mother tongue is also used in moral education classes in primary
school. While 'mother tongue' generally refers to the first language (L1) overseas,
it is used by the Ministry of Education to denote the "ethnic language" or the second
language (L2) in Singapore.

The impact of the bilingual policy differs from students of one racial group to
another. For the Chinese, when the policy was first implemented, many students found
themselves struggling with two foreign languages: English and Mandarin. Even though
dialects then were widely spoken at home, Chinese dialects were excluded from the
classroom as it was felt that they would be an "impediment to learning Chinese". Today,
although Mandarin Chinese is more widely spoken, many students still struggle with
learning it. To ease their difficulties, several revisions have been made to the
education system. These include the now-defunct EM3 stream and Chinese B, both in which
Mandarin is taught at a lower than mainstream level.

The Malay-speaking community also faced similar problems when the bilingual policy was
implemented. Today, the lack of support in school has led to the decline of dialects.
Malay is the lingua franca among the Javanese, Boyanese, other Indonesian groups and
some Arabs. It is Malay, and not dialects, which are valued as the means for
transmitting familial and religious values. ‘Madrasahs’ or religious schools, mosques
and religious classes all employ Malay. However, Malay in turn is facing competition
from English.
For the Indians, the situation is different. Options for non-Vernacular Languages like
Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati and Urdu are available .
The Ministry of Education (MOE) in Singapore defines 'Mother Tongue' not by the home
language or the first language learned by the student but by his/her father's
ethnicity. For example, a child born to a Hokkien-speaking Chinese father and Tamil-
speaking Indian mother would automatically be assigned to take Mandarin Chinese as the
Mother Tongue language.

In 2007, the Ministry of Education announced that it would encourage many schools to
offer conversational Malay or Chinese to those who are not taking either language as
their mother tongue. The Ministry of Education will be providing the schools with the
resources needed for this programme.[41] In 2008, there were 488 schools offering this
programme.[42]
Singapore's 'bilingualism' policy of teaching and learning English and mother tongue in
primary and secondary schools is rationalized as the 'cultural ballast' to safeguard
Asian cultural identities and values against Western influence.



With the big picture about the issues, the challenges, the problems and the side
effects of the current language policy in Singapore well understood, how would you as
language learners, would improve the policy? If you were Prof Arguelles, how would you
advice Prime Minister Lee to achieve bilingualism in the population, without the nasty
side effects or back firing ?

For those of you who want to read more: here are the links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L
anguages_of_Singapore


311621.html">http://www.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/New%2 BMarket/Story/A1Story2011112
0-311621.html


http://ccat.sas.upenn.ed
u/~haroldfs/public/implement.html


[URL=http://www.sph.com.sg/pradmin/upload/kfcFzfff_LKY%20bil ingual%20book%20summary.pdf
]http://www.sph.com.sg/pradmin/upload/kfcFzfff_LKY%20bilingu al%20book%20summary.pdf[/UR
L]

Edited by Fasulye on 06 December 2011 at 12:46pm

1 person has voted this message useful



Ari
Heptaglot
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 6429 days ago

2314 posts - 5695 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese
Studies: Czech, Latin, German

 
 Message 3 of 8
06 December 2011 at 6:53am | IP Logged 
It really is a tricky situation, and not an easy one to advise. I'd never advise trying to eradicate a handful of languages and tell people their mother tongue is this foreign language they've never spoken before. I find that pretty terrible. But I can of course see the advantage from an economical standpoint.
1 person has voted this message useful



leosmith
Senior Member
United States
Joined 6397 days ago

2365 posts - 3804 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Tagalog

 
 Message 4 of 8
06 December 2011 at 7:31am | IP Logged 
QiuJP wrote:
how would you advice

Sorry to nitpick, but this mistake is so common on this forum it really drives me crazy. "Advice" is a noun. "To
advise" is the verb.
3 persons have voted this message useful



slucido
Bilingual Diglot
Senior Member
Spain
https://goo.gl/126Yv
Joined 6522 days ago

1296 posts - 1781 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: Spanish*, Catalan*
Studies: English

 
 Message 5 of 8
06 December 2011 at 12:43pm | IP Logged 
leosmith wrote:
QiuJP wrote:
how would you advice

Sorry to nitpick, but this mistake is so common on this forum it really drives me crazy. "Advice" is a noun. "To
advise" is the verb.


Thank you. I wasn't aware of this...
3 persons have voted this message useful



s_allard
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 5277 days ago

2704 posts - 5425 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish
Studies: Polish

 
 Message 6 of 8
06 December 2011 at 2:38pm | IP Logged 
I have no clue about what Prof Arguelles would say, but I do think that one should look at the true national lingua franca of Singapore, Singlish. This is anathema to government officials and the upper classes. But this is the language that nearly all Singaporeans speak. I suggest that everybody have a look at the article on Singlish in Wikipedia. Singlish
2 persons have voted this message useful



QiuJP
Triglot
Senior Member
Singapore
Joined 5702 days ago

428 posts - 597 votes 
Speaks: Mandarin*, EnglishC2, French
Studies: Czech, GermanB1, Russian, Japanese

 
 Message 7 of 8
06 December 2011 at 5:16pm | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
I have no clue about what Prof Arguelles would say, but I do think
that one should look at the true national lingua franca of Singapore, Singlish. This is
anathema to government officials and the upper classes. But this is the language that
nearly all Singaporeans speak. I suggest that everybody have a look at the article on
Singlish in Wikipedia. Singlish


The government has been trying to eradicate Singlish for many years, citing the reason
that Singapore cannot develop her variety of English as the population of Singapore is
too small. "Singapore is unlike the US where there are 300 million speakers of American
English and is a great power. Therefore, if we develop our variety of English, nobody
will understand us and nobody will trade with us. Our economy will suffer as a result."

The government has been encouraging the use of "good" English though campaigns such as
the "Speak good English" movement to discourage the use of Singlish. Here is the
website of "Speak good English" movement:
http://www.goodenglish.org.sg/
1 person has voted this message useful



strikingstar
Bilingual Tetraglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5020 days ago

292 posts - 444 votes 
Speaks: English*, Mandarin*, Cantonese, Swahili
Studies: Spanish, Arabic (Written)

 
 Message 8 of 8
06 December 2011 at 8:00pm | IP Logged 
To be fair, people generally accept and recognize Singlish to be a language of low
prestige. Although that may be a direct result of the government tirelessly drumming it
into their heads.

Instead of celebrating it as something to be truly proud of, something that is "Uniquely
Singaporean" (aside from Manglish),
people are constantly told that it is crass and boorish and speaking it would be a sin
unbefitting of an upright citizen (I exaggerate... a little).



PS: Why is unbefitting highlighted?? The word's legit.


1 person has voted this message useful



If you wish to post a reply to this topic you must first login. If you are not already registered you must first register


Post ReplyPost New Topic Printable version Printable version

You cannot post new topics in this forum - You cannot reply to topics in this forum - You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum - You cannot create polls in this forum - You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page was generated in 0.4531 seconds.


DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript
Copyright 2024 FX Micheloud - All rights reserved
No part of this website may be copied by any means without my written authorization.