Can a basket hide an elephant ? --engaged language policy and practices toward educational, linguistic, and socio-economic equity in Vietnam

Bui, Thuy Thi Ngoc
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2013]
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Scholars concerned with education and socioeconomic equity increasingly argue that globalization and neoliberalism have brought about a troubling trend toward commodification and expansion of English language education (Coleman, 2011; Heller, 2012). Language and education scholars (Appleby, 2010; Phillipson, 2012) warn that English language spread largely entails linguistic and cultural homogenization, broad socio-economic stratification, massive resource exploitation, and deteriorated social welfare. Taking these concerns into account, this study employed engaged language policy (ELP) (Davis, forthcoming; Davis, Phyak, & Bui, 2012) to explore Vietnamese language policy and planning from the perspectives of global ideologies, national agendas, and local transformation. At the macro level, this account describes how language policies, neoliberal ideologies increasingly fail to realize linguistic, cultural, economic equity. Drawing on Freire's (1970) critical consciousness-raising approach, meso and micro analyses focus on portraying the dialogic processes of researcher, teachers, and minority students in a remote and mountainous province as they interrogate the impact of language policies and practices on their lives and work. Our collective findings indicate that, contrary to the state's goal of promoting English for socio-economic and educational advancement, language policies largely threaten social, educational and economic development, and minority students' linguistic and cultural ecology. Since students in the region speak minority languages at home, they are disadvantaged by a Vietnamese as medium of instruction and English as required subject school policy. The study thus emphasizes the urgent need for a comprehensive understanding of the interconnectedness among cultural and linguistic complexity; language/literacy education; socio-economic needs; and local agency throughout the macro, meso, and micro level processes of language policy decision-making and implementation. It strongly recommends respecting home languages for effective schooling, a strong economy, resourceful citizens, and social security at local and global scales. To this end, the study advocates taking ELP as an effective epistemological and agentive approach at the center of language policy research; it cultivates and repositions individual and collective agency at the forefront of language policy activism while creating a respectful and intellectual forum between the researcher and multiple actors to facilitate transparent and transformative education, diversity, social welfare, and an egalitarian society.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
Language policy, Vietnam, English, equity, engaged language policy
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Education.
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