Language Policy

, 8:117 | Cite as

Assumptions behind Singapore’s language-in-education policy: implications for language planning and second language acquisition

Original Paper

Abstract

Singapore’s officially bilingual education policy, in which the majority of children are schooled through a non-native medium with their ‹Mother Tongue’ (an ethnic heritage language that is not necessarily spoken in the home) as a single school subject only, has resulted in dramatic language shifts in the population and high academic achievement as measured by international comparison studies. Much current second language acquisition theory would predict failure for such a policy. This paper examines the assumptions concerning language planning and second language acquisition underlying the city-state’s language-in-education policy, their relation to current theory in the field, and how the case of Singapore can support or challenge these different theories.

Keywords

Bilingual education Language planning Language-in-education policy Second language acquisition Singapore 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Much of the work that became the basis of this paper was completed as part of the author’s qualifying paper at Harvard University Graduate School of Education. The author would like to acknowledge and thank her advisor, Professor Maria Carlo, and the members of her committee, Professors Catherine Snow and Carola Suarez-Orozco, for their very helpful advice and guidance on the development of the paper. A Spencer Research Training Grant funded work with Prof. Snow which led to the development of this paper. Portions of an earlier version of this paper were presented at the 4th International Symposium on Bilingualism (April–May 2003) and the American Association for Applied Linguistics annual meeting (March 2003). The author would also like to thank Professors Zohreh Eslami and Yolanda Padron of Texas A&M University and three anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments and suggestions.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Texas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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