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English as a medium of instruction in Asian education (from primary to tertiary): Implications for local languages and local scholarship

This article will review and critique the general trends towards the significant increase in the teaching of English and the use of English as a medium of instruction in education throughout East and Southeast Asia. I shall focus on two levels. First I shall discuss the situation as regards the role of English in primary schools and then consider its role in tertiary education. I shall argue that the trend towards the ever earlier introduction of English into the primary curriculum, along with the push for the relevant national language, is not only pedagogically ill-advised for the great majority of primary school children in the region, but also represents a serious threat to local languages and, perhaps most importantly, to children’s sense of identity. The increasing trend towards English–medium programmes at the tertiary level also threatens local languages and the status and value of knowledge and scholarship written and disseminated in languages other than English. At the same time, ‘indigenous’ knowledge disseminated through English, while it may reach an international audience, may be essentially reframed through being translated into English. I shall conclude with recommendations designed to encourage multilingualism in local languages at the primary level and the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Applied Linguistics Review de Gruyter
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