Assumptions behind Singapore’s language-in-education policy: implications for language planning and second language acquisition
- 1.2k Downloads
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.
KeywordsBilingual education Language planning Language-in-education policy Second language acquisition Singapore
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.
- Afendras, E. A., & Kuo, E. C. Y. (Eds.). (1980). Language and society in Singapore. Singapore: Singapore University Press.Google Scholar
- Ang, B. C. (1999). The teaching of the Chinese language in Singapore. In S. Gopinathan, A. Pakir, W. K. Ho, & V. Saravanan (Eds.), Language, society and education in Singapore: Issues and trends (pp. 333–352). Singapore: Times Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Appel, R., & Muysken, P. (1987). Language contact and bilingualism. London: Arnold.Google Scholar
- Bialystok, E. (2001). Bilingualism in development: Language, literacy and cognition. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Bialystok, E., & Hakuta, K. (1999). Confounded age: Linguistic and cognitive factors in age differences for second language acquisition. In D. Birdsong (Ed.), Second language acquisition and the critical period hypothesis (pp. 161–181). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Cheah, Y. M. (1999). Acquiring English literacy in Singapore classrooms. In S. Gopinathan, A. Pakir, W.␣K. Ho, & V. Saravanan (Eds.), Language, society and education in Singapore: Issues and trends (pp. 333–352). Singapore: Times Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Cheng, N. L. (1997). Biliteracy in Singapore: A survey of the written proficiency in English and Chinese of secondary school pupils. Hong Kong Journal of Applied Linguistics, 2(1), 115–128.Google Scholar
- Chiew, S.-K. (1980). Bilingualism and national identity: A Singapore case study. In E. A. Afendras & E. C. Y. Kuo (Eds.), Language and society in Singapore (pp. 233–253). Singapore: Singapore University Press.Google Scholar
- Chua, S. C. (1964). Report on the census of population 1957. Singapore: State of Singapore.Google Scholar
- CIA. (2001). The world factbook 2001. CIA. Accessed December 4, 2001 from http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/.
- Cummins, J. (1979). Linguistic interdependence and the educational development of bilingual children. Review of Educational Research, 49(2), 222–251.Google Scholar
- Cummins, J. (1981). The role of primary language development in promoting educational success for language minority students. In California State Department of Education Office of Bilingual Education (Ed.), Schooling and language minority students: A theoretical framework (pp. 3–49). Los Angeles, CA: California State University.Google Scholar
- Cummins, J. (1991). Interdependence of first- and second-language proficiency in bilingual children. In E. Bialystok (Ed.), Language processing in bilingual children (pp. 70–89). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Dixon, L. Q. (2005). Bilingual education policy in Singapore: An analysis of its sociohistorical roots and current academic outcomes. International Journal of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education, 8(1), 25–47.Google Scholar
- Eastman, C. M. (1983). Language planning: An introduction. San Francisco, CA: Chandler & Sharp.Google Scholar
- Elley, W. B. (1992). How in the world do students read?: The IEA study of reading literacy. The Hague, Netherlands: The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.Google Scholar
- Fishman, J. A. (1977). Language and ethnicity. In H. Giles (Ed.), ACLS-sponsored “ethnicity in eastern Europe” (pp. 15–57). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Garcia Mayo, M.d. P., & Garcia Lecumberri, M. L. (Eds.). (2003). Age and the acquisition of English as a second language. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
- Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Goh, K. S. (1979). Report on the Ministry of Education 1978 (pp. 113). Singapore: Education Study Team.Google Scholar
- Goh, C. T. (2000). Speech by Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong at the launch of the Speak Good English Movement on Saturday, 29 April 2000, at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) headquarters auditorium, Dover Drive, at 10:30 am. Accessed May 29, 2008 from http://stars.nhb.gov.sg/stars/public/.
- Government of Singapore. (2006a). Cabinet appointments: Mr GOH Chok Tong. Accessed May 29, 2008 from http://www.cabinet.gov.sg/CabinetAppointments/Mr+GOH+Chok+Tong.htm.
- Government of Singapore. (2006b). Cabinet appointments: Mr LEE Kuan Yew. Accessed May 29, 2008 from http://www.cabinet.gov.sg/CabinetAppointments/Mr+LEE+Kuan+Yew.htm.
- Harley, B. (1986). Age in second language acquisition. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
- Harley, B., & Wang, W. (1997). The critical period hypothesis: Where are we now? In A. M. B. de Groot & J. F. Kroll (Eds.), Tutorials in bilingualism: Psycholinguistic perspectives (pp. 19–51). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Haugen, E. (1971). Instrumentalism in language planning. In J. Rubin & B. Jernudd (Eds.), Can language be planned? (pp. 281–292). Honolulu, HI: University Press of Hawaii.Google Scholar
- Hsui, V. Y. (1996). Bilingual but not biliterate: Case of a multilingual Asian society. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 39(5), 410–414.Google Scholar
- Johnson, J. S., & Newport, E. L. (1989/1995). Critical period effects in second language learning: The influence of maturational state on the acquisition of English as a second language. In H. D. Brown & S. Gonzo (Eds.), Readings on second language acquisition (pp. 75–115). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
- Kecskes, I., & Papp, T. (2000). Foreign language and mother tongue. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Kissinger, H. A. (2000). Foreword. In K. Y. Lee (Ed.), From third world to first: The Singapore story: 1965–2000 (pp. ix–xi). New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
- Krashen, S. (1982). Principles and practice in second language acquisition. New York: Pergamon.Google Scholar
- Krashen, S. (1985). The input hypothesis: Issues and implications. New York: Longman.Google Scholar
- Lee, K. Y. (1982). Prime Minister’s address at the opening ceremony of the Congress of the Council on Education for Muslim Children (MENDAKI) at the Singapore Conference Hall on 28 May 82. Accessed May 29, 2008 from http://stars.nhb.gov.sg/stars/public/.
- Lee, K. Y. (2000). From third world to first: The Singapore story: 1965–2000. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
- LePoer, B. L. (1991). Historical setting. Library of congress. Accessed June 10, 2008 from http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+sg0033).
- Lui, T. Y. (2006). Speech by RADM (NS) Lui Tuck Yew, Minister of State for Education, at the launch of the Speak Good English Movement on Tuesday, 25 July 2006, 11.00 am at the National Library. Accessed May 29, 2008 from http://stars.nhb.gov.sg/stars/public/.
- Martin, M. O., Mullis, I. V. S., Gonzalez, E. J., Gregory, K. D., Smith, T. A., Chrostowski, S. J., et al. (1999). TIMSS 1999 international science report: Findings from IEA’s repeat of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study at the eighth grade. International Study Center, Lynch School of Education, Boston College. Accessed October 1, 2001 from http://timss.bc.edu/timss1999i/publications.html.
- Ministry of Education. (2004). Changes to primary education. Singapore Ministry of Education. Accessed October 6, 2006 from http://www.moe.gov.sg/corporate/eduoverview/Primary_changesToPri.htm.
- Ministry of Education. (2006). Refining how we deliver ability-driven education. Accessed December 6, 2006 from http://www.moe.gov.sg/press/2006/pr20060928.htm.
- Ministry of Education. (2007a). Changes affecting special/express courses. Accessed September 21, 2007 from http://www.moe.gov.sg/corporate/eduoverview/Sec_changes.htm.
- Ministry of Education. (2007b). Preparing students for a global future: Enhancing language learning. Accessed September 20, 2007 from http://www.moe.gov.sg/press/2007/pr20070307.htm.
- Ministry of Education. (2007c). Programmes offered. Accessed September 21, 2007 from http://www.moe.gov.sg/esp/schadm/sec1/Progs_Offered.htm.
- Mullis, I. V. S., Martin, M. O., Gonzalez, E. J., Gregory, K. D., Garden, R. A., O’Connor, K. M., et al. (1999). TIMSS 1999 international mathematics report: Findings from IEA’s repeat of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study at the eighth grade. International Study Center, Lynch School of Education, Boston College. Accessed October 1, 2001 from http://timss.bc.edu/timss1999i/publications.html.
- Mullis, I. V. S., Martin, M. O., Gonzalez, E. J., & Kennedy, A. M. (2003). PIRLS 2001 international report: IEA’s study of reading literacy achievement in primary schools. Chestnut Hill, MA: Boston College.Google Scholar
- Newman, J. (1988). Singapore’s speak Mandarin campaign. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 9(5), 437–448.Google Scholar
- Oyama, S. (1976/1982). A sensitive period for the acquisition of a nonnative phonological system. In S. Krashen, R. C. Scarcella, & M. H. Long (Eds.), Child-adult differences in second language acquisition (pp. 20–38). Rowley, MA: Newbury House Publishers.Google Scholar
- Pakir, A. (1993). Two tongue tied: Bilingualism in Singapore. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 14(1&2), 73–90.Google Scholar
- Pakir, A. (1997). Education and invisible language planning: The case of English in Singapore. In J. Tan, S. Gopinathan, & W. K. Ho (Eds.), Education in Singapore: A book of readings (pp. 55–72). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
- Pakir, A. (1999). English in Singapore: The codification of competing norms. In S. Gopinathan, A. Pakir, W. K. Ho, & V. Saravanan (Eds.), Language, society and education in Singapore (pp. 65–84). Singapore: Times Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Pakir, A. (2000). Singapore. In W. K. Ho & R. Y. L. Wong (Eds.), Language policies and language education: The impact in East Asian countries in the next decade (pp. 259–284). Singapore: Times Media.Google Scholar
- Pinker, S. (1994). The language instinct: How the mind creates language. New York: William Morrow.Google Scholar
- Riney, T. (1998). Toward more homogeneous bilingualisms: Shift phenomena in Singapore. Multilingua, 17(1), 1–23.Google Scholar
- Saravanan, V. (1999). Language maintenance and language shift in the Tamil–English community. In S. Gopinathan, A. Pakir, W. K. Ho, & V. Saravanan (Eds.), Language, society and education in Singapore: Issues and trends (pp. 155–178). Singapore: Times Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Singapore Department of Statistics. (2001). Singapore population. Singapore Government. Accessed May 17, 2002 from http://www.singstat.gov.sg/keystats/c2000/handbook.pdf.
- Singapore Government. (1965). Singapore year book 1965. Singapore: Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
- Singapore Government. (1966). Economic Development Board: Annual report (pp. 10). Singapore: Economic Development Board.Google Scholar
- Snow, C. E. (1990). Rationales for native language instruction in the education of language minority children: Evidence from research. In A. Padilla, H. Fairchild, & C. Valadez (Eds.), Bilingual education: Issues and strategies (pp. 60–74). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Swain, M. (1985). Communicative competence: Some roles of comprehensible input and comprehensible output in its development. In S. M. Gass & C. G. Madden (Eds.), Input in second language acquisition (pp. 235–253). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.Google Scholar
- Swain, M. (1995). Three functions of output in second language acquisition. In G. Cook & B. Siedlhofer (Eds.), Principle and practice in applied linguistics: Studies in honour of H.G. Widdowson (pp. 125–144). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Swain, M., & Lapkin, S. (1982). Evaluating bilingual education: A Canadian case study. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
- Tan, L. Y. (1997b). Communal riots of 1964. National Library Board. Accessed June 10, 2008 from http://infopedia.nl.sg/articles/SIP_45_2005-01-06.html.
- Tauli, V. (1968). Introduction to a theory of language planning. Uppsala, Sweden: Almqvist & Wiksells.Google Scholar
- Wee, L. (2002). Linguistic instrumentalism and bilingualism in Singapore: Responses to globalization. In Actas/proceedings of the second international symposium on bilingualism (pp. 1107–1120). Vigo, Spain: University of Vigo.Google Scholar
- Xu, D., Chew, C. H., & Chen, S. (1999). Language use and language attitudes in the Singapore Chinese community. In S. Gopinathan, A. Pakir, W. K. Ho, & V. Saravanan (Eds.), Language, society and education in Singapore: Issues and trends (pp. 133–154). Singapore: Times Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Yip, J. S. K., Eng, S. P., & Yap, J. Y. C. (1990). 25 years of educational reform. In J. S. K. Yip & W. K. Sim (Eds.), Evolution of educational excellence: 25 years of education in the Republic of Singapore (pp. 1–25). Singapore: Longman.Google Scholar
- Yip, J. S. K., Eng, S. P., & Yap, J. Y. C. (1997). 25 years of educational reform. In J. Tan, S. Gopinathan, & W. K. Ho (Eds.), Education in Singapore: A book of readings (pp. 3–32). New York: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar