Language Policies- Impact on Language Maintenance and Teaching : Focus on Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines.

| January 7, 2014

Special Edition, September 2009,
Language, Culture and Identity in Asia.

September 2009 home | PDF version |

Language Policies – Impact on Language Maintenance and Teaching: Focus on Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines1

Maya Khemlani David#, Francesco Cavallaro* and Paolo Coluzzi‡ 2
#University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; *Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; ‡Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Brunei Darussalam

Francesco Cavallaro is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Linguistics and Multilingual Studies at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He has worked at various Universities in Australia and he is now living and working in Singapore. His research interests are in sociolinguistics and bilingualism. He has published on language maintenance and shift, the demographics of the Italians in Australia, language attitudes in Singapore and on the use of technology in the classroom. He is the author of the forthcoming book “Sicilians in Australia: Language shift and maintenance”, published by The Italian Australian Institute. La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia.

Professor Dr. Maya Khemlani David (Faculty of Languages and Lingusitics, University of Malaya) is an Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, United Kingdom and a honorary member of the Foundation of Endangered Languages. She is also a Member of the International Advisory Board of Linguapax and a Member of the Managing Board of The Social Capital Foundation. As a sociolinguist, Dr. David has a special interest in the languages of minority communities in Malaysia and for her work in this field was awarded the Linguapax Prize in 2007. Her publications include The Sindhis of Malaysia: A Sociolinguistic Account (2001, London, ASEAN), Politeness in Malaysian Family Talk (2008, Serdang: Universiti Putra Malaysia), Language and Human Rights: Focus on Malaysia (2007, Serdang: Universiti Putra Malaysia), Language and the Power of the Media (2006, Frankfurt, Peter Lang), Language Choices and Discourse of Malaysian Families: Case Studies of Families in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2006, Petaling Jaya, Strategic International and Research Development Centre), and Teaching of English in Second and Foreign Language Settings: Focus on Malaysia (2004, Frankfurt, Peter Lang).

Paolo Coluzzi ,of Milan (Italy), received his MA in minority languages in Spain from the University of Exeter (UK) and his PhD in Italian sociolinguistics from the University of Bristol (UK). At present he is working as a lecturer at the University of Brunei Darussalam. His articles have appeared in the international journals Language Problems and Language Planning, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, Modern Italy, International Journal of Multilingualism and The Linguistics Journal. His first book Minority Language Planning and Micronationalism in Italy: an Analysis of the Situation of Friulian, Cimbrian and Western Lombard with Reference to Spanish Minority Languages (Oxford: Peter Lang) was published in June 2007.


This paper will describe the language policies, planning and implementation in selected ASEAN countries and discuss the impact of such policies on the maintenance of a number of languages. The paper will specifically examine the policies towards minority languages in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines. The findings indicate that some countries have language policies that benefit some of the minority languages; while others do not seem to be doing enough to stop the shift to the majority languages. The revitalization efforts of these countries are also discussed. Language programmes in these countries show how the learning of minority endangered languages can take place in institutional or community settings. The use of ‘multiliteracies’ in such settings to revive threatened languages in new learning venues is also discussed.

Keywords: language policies, language revitalization, minority languages, multiliteracies, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, the Philippines.
1 This is a substantially revised version of the papers presented by Maya Khemlani David and Paolo Coluzzi at the XII Foundation of Endangered Languages Conference, 24-27 September 2008, Ljouwert/Leeuwarden, Fryslân, The Netherlands.

2 Most of the paper is the work of Maya Khemlani David; Francesco Cavallaro contributed the sections on Singapore and language policies and language shift, and to the overall discussion; Paolo Coluzzi’s contribution is restricted mainly to the sections on Brunei.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Category: 2009