Planning for Development or Decline? Education Policy for Chinese Language in Singapore

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Abstract

This article examines how political discourse, language ideologies, recent Chinese curriculum reforms, and their representations in the media are inextricably related. Using the Speak Mandarin Campaign as background for the inquiry, I focus on textual features of the various media sources, TV advertisements, campaign slogans, official speeches, and newspaper excerpts to illuminate the status and changing role of the Chinese language in Singapore's sociocultural, economic, and political development. Using critical discourse analysis as an analytical framework, I examine the contradictory ideologies that underpin the government's language policies and planning activities. On the one hand, the government emphasizes the cultural and economic values of the Chinese language; on the other hand, government schools teach Chinese as a subject. In particular, the recent reforms in Chinese language curriculum have arguably further diluted the content of teaching. In addition I point out how conflicting ideologies behind language policies can lead to cultural confusion and educational uncertainty. These mixed messages make it difficult for schools to offer a consistent language education curriculum that will help students appreciate the value, be it economic, cultural or educational, of the Chinese language.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalCritical Inquiry in Language Studies
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

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