, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 217-239
Date: 21 Jul 2010

Language ideologies and standard English language policy in Singapore: responses of a ‘designer immigrant’ student

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Abstract

This article reports on year-long critical ethnographic study conducted in a Singapore school and examines how the standard English language educational policy is interpreted by a Secondary 3 (Grade 9) female student from China. She is a member of an exclusive group of academically able students who has been carefully recruited by the local authorities and awarded scholarships in order to pursue their education in Singapore. This study sheds light on the language learning experience of a so-called designer immigrant, that is, an immigrant who possesses high-level skills and global goals and interests (Simmons 1999). By focusing specifically on how this student managed the ideologies embedded in the standard English language educational policy, the present study also explicates how operations of power at a local level are realized. The data of the study, including interviews, classroom interaction data, and written artifacts, revealed that even in the face of overwhelming forces, the student was able to exercise her agency and to do so in ways complementary to prevailing ideologies which subsequently bolstered her learning. This study contributes to a better understanding of designer immigrant students in contemporary language policy research and more broadly to advance the sociolinguistics of globalization (Blommaert 2003).