The issue of language is a fundamental factor for redressing social inequalities in education. Language is also central to policy measures and management reflections, on political events and social processes that are often not factored in education policy discussions in Angola. Critical stance affords a growing acceptance of teaching and learning as a complex situated social practice. Critical multiculturalism insights and perspectives on language rights enable theproblematization of the media of instruction policies and how existing education policies downplay the question of inequalities to access quality education based on social class and race in Angolan education. Language education policies in Angola represent colonial legacy. Lusotropicalism ideologies are often used to reinforce colonial social and cultural imaginaries that result in disenfranchised indigenous communities. Thus, in the context of globalization, in which immigration imposes rapid changes in the sociolinguistic landscape of the country, initiatives aiming to promote the use of African languages in education (acquisition planning) might provide an opportunity for people who viscerally suffer from the marginalization of these languages. However, the opportunity to carve out a space for candid debate on the issues of language, social class, and education are fraught with tensions due to the fact that the issue of language, education, and race remains a taboo that has not deserved any systematic attention on the part of the government and educationists in particular. Therefore, complementarity between literacy teaching in African languages and Portuguese might project African languages into the linguistic market, provide privileged planning opportunities, and develop an educational system toward bilingual and multilingual literacy. In the heyday of postnational ideologies, language diversity is an asset that needs to be harnessed through critical engagement and critical multicultural education, while recognizing the role that language plays in enabling and disabling both majority and minority groups to access social, cultural, and economic resources that are necessary for surviving in the increasingly commodified and globalized world.
Historically, foreign language education in Japan has been influenced by local and global conditions. Of the two major purposes of learning a language—to gain new knowledge from overseas and to develop practical communication skills—the latter pragmatic orientation became dominant toward the end the 19th century, when access to foreign language learning increased and English became a dominant language to learn. The trend of learning English as an international language for pragmatic purposes has been further strengthened since the 1980s under the discourses of internationalization and neoliberal globalization. An overview of the current status of foreign language education reveals that there are both formal and non-formal learning opportunities for people of all ages; English predominates as a target language although fewer opportunities to learn other languages exist; English is taught at primary and secondary schools and universities with an emphasis on acquiring communicative skills, although the exam-oriented instructional practices contradict the official goal; and adults learn foreign languages, mainly English, for various reasons, including career advancement and hobbyist enjoyment. Such observations include contestations and contradictions. For instance, there have been debates on whether the major aim of learning English should be pragmatic or intellectual. These debates have taken place against the backdrop of the fact that the learning of a foreign language—de facto English—is much more prevalent in society in the early 21st century compared with previous periods in history, when access to learning opportunities was limited to elites. Another contradiction is between the multilingual reality in local and global communities and the exclusive emphasis on teaching English. This gap can be critically analyzed through a critical realist lens, through which multilayers of ideology in discourses and realities in the material world are examined. The predominance of English is driven by a neoliberal ideology that conceptualizes English as a global language with economic benefit, while testing and shadow education enterprises perpetuate the emphasis on English language teaching. The political economy of foreign language education also explains the longstanding socioeconomic disparity in English ability.
Wenyang Sun and Xue Lan Rong
Language education is becoming an increasingly important topic in education in Asian countries, especially as schools in Asian countries have become more multilingual and multicultural as a result of rapid urbanization and globalization. A comparative analysis of the issues in language education reform in Asian countries—using China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore as examples—shows that, historically and currently, English language education policies are shaped by various underpinning ideologies such as linguicism, nationalism, and neoliberalism. English can serve as a vehicle for upward socioeconomic mobility, or an instrument of linguistic imperialism, or both, in Asia contexts. These ideologies, through language education policies and reforms, impact the status as well as the pedagogy and promotion of the English language. There is a trend and a need with regard to addressing critical consciousness in English education in order to counter the forces of linguicism and neoliberalism in an increasingly multilingual, multicultural, and globalized world.
Any nation’s educational policies are forged in settlements that serve as a discursive frame, which is subject to inherent destabilizing tensions and contradictions bounded within identifiable historical and geographical periods. Vietnamese policymakers have viewed education as central to nation building, which was first realized through the forging of a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist educational settlement when independence was attained in 1946. Then a second settlement was achieved as part of its neoliberal Doi Moi policy pivot in the late 1980s, which has led to the nation’s global political, economic, and cultural integration. This pragmatic resetting, aimed at nation building through increased foreign investment and scientific and technical links with regional competitors and Western liberal democracies, swept aside past presumptions while retaining a strong one-party state. Vietnam’s initial revolutionary educational settlement was forged in the years prior to 1945 and 1954. One of its achievements was the use of Vietnamese as the principal language of instruction in education. Pre-independence, in the late 1930s, mass education drives were important influences on this new policy. The French colonial regime was compelled to use Vietnamese for translation and communication, replacing Mandarin as the medium of instruction in schools and the language of the previous feudal civil service. One of the first acts as part of the revolutionary educational settlement initiated in 1945 was to proclaim Vietnamese as the official language of the nation, which was expanded to North Vietnam in 1954 and later consolidated in the nation’s reunification in 1975. From its inception, Vietnam’s revolutionary educational settlement faced a legitimacy problem that undermined its nation-building agenda. It was mistakenly believed that economic advancement would follow revolutionary educational schooling. Voluntary mass education gave way to bureaucracy and careerism, and a traditional curriculum took hold; the Vietnamese state struggled to build and support schooling. A burgeoning young population meant it was difficult for state expenditures to meet the need for classrooms, qualified teachers, and quality instruction. Faced with challenges that were exacerbated by the collapse of the Soviet Empire, in 1986 the Sixth National Congress of the Vietnamese Communist Party broke with its previous policy frameworks. Termed “Doi Moi,” this “renovation” realigned its command to a market economy. Subsequent related educational reforms overhauled preschool, general vocational, and higher and postgraduate education. In a radical departure from its past, these reforms established a dual system of state-built, -operated, and -managed public and private schools. Educational settlements are partial and tenuous. Just as there were tensions within its revolutionary educational policy settlement, so too the hegemonic nature of Vietnam’s current neoliberal consensus has its own stresses. Two are ongoing concerns about the quality of teaching and learning and the weight of a strong culture of centralism in decision making as an aspect of Vietnam’s revolutionary legacy.
Michelle Mingyue Gu and Ho Kin Tong
Multilingual settings are regarded as ideologically, culturally, linguistically, and ethnically diverse social contexts where tensions exist among different groups and individuals, and in which language users’ multilingual competence can be utilized as repertoire for communicative, identification, and learning purposes. Multilingualism and identity have been widely explored from different theoretical orientations in diverse educational settings. The major research findings from the postmodernist perspective reflect that (a) identity, reflecting an individual’s relationship with the external environment, is dynamic, multiple, and fluid; (b) individuals’ identities are continuously shaped in multilingual interactions, and the multilingual settings provide affordance for the language users to identify themselves through the lens of cultural memories, embodied history, subjectivity of themselves and others, during which the new identities and relationships are established; and (c) the multilingual speakers can shape the multilingual settings through negotiating power relations between languages as well as cultures, and modifying as well as reconstructing social discourses. As such, the exploration of multilingualism and identity, and their complex interplay with educational discourse, history, and sociopolitical realities, have both theoretical significance and practical implications for transferring diversity into recourses and constructing new spaces and opportunities for identity, language, and education in an era of increasing hybridity and mobility.