Language Policy

, 7:143 | Cite as

The problem of ‘choice’ and the construction of the demand for English in Cambodia

Original Paper

Abstract

This paper uses Cambodia as a case study to problematise the notion of choice in the spread of English. I explore specific historical contexts which were central to the construction of the demand for English and English language teaching (ELT) in Cambodia. The actions of a range of external agencies resulted in the close discursive articulation of English with Cambodia’s ‘reconstruction and development’ which was constructed along broadly neo-liberal lines. Alternative models of development were not considered, thus language alternatives were similarly ignored. One language alternative, a programme of mass literacy, was largely ignored, leaving the majority of Cambodians functionally illiterate. I conclude by arguing that the use of ‘choice’ in language choice theories as a form of agency often masks the fact that choice is a marker of socio-economic and political privilege.

Keywords

Cambodia Development and reconstruction English ELT International aid Language choice Language policy Language spread theories 

Abbreviations

AIDA

Australian International Development Aid Bureau

ASEAN

Association of South East Asian Nations

CAMSET

Cambodian Secondary English Teaching project

CELT

Cambodian English Language Training project

DfID

Department for International Development (UK)

KPNLF

Khmer People’s National Liberation Front

MoEYS

Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport

NGO

Non-governmental organisation

QSA

Quaker Service Australia

UNDP

United Nations Development Program

UNESCO

United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation

UNHCR

United Nations High Commission for Refugees

UNICEF

United Nations International Children’s Fund

UNTAC

United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Public Health, School of Population, Community and Behavioural SciencesThe University of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK

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