Presenting and Teaching in Universidad de Cordoba (Khwan and Fitri …. and Richard)
Khwan and I were invited to contribute in a round table/ symposium in the University of Cordoba, in the warm Cordoba, Spain (June 3rd). The Symposium ‘Intercultural Education and Bilingual Education in the 21st Century’ is a part of ‘The International Conference of Education and Development Cooperation’ (link below):
Khwan’s paper was titled:
The potential role of English language education in developing interculturally competent graduates: an ASEAN perspective
The Association of South East Asian Nations (also known as the ASEAN region), founded in 1967, comprises ten member nations, namely: Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam. The establishment in 2015 of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) continues the process of building a regional community that is economically, politically and socially integrated. Against this background, the peoples of this ASEAN community now face the challenges of, and opportunities for, increased interaction between individuals from differing linguistic and/or cultural backgrounds, i.e. intercultural communication. In much of this communication/interaction, English plays a major role as the language for international and intercultural communication as it is not only the most widely taught foreign language in the region, but it is also, legally-speaking, the only working language of the ASEAN (the ASEAN Charter: Article 34, 2008). In a region such as ASEAN where Intercultural Education is still in its infancy, English language education seems to have a closer relationship with the development of skills in intercultural communication than other subject areas. In this Round Table contribution, I overview the roles of English within the region and review some of ASEAN policy documents in relation to intercultural communication, in particular focusing on Thailand’s educational policies. I conclude by discussing the potential of English language education in the ASEAN region as a means of developing the skills needed for graduates to function in this intercultural age.
The Threat to Linguistic Diversity from National and Global Languages? The Case of Indonesia
Indonesia is a linguistically complex country with most Indonesians being bilingual or multilingual, speaking Bahasa Indonesia – the national and official language – plus one or more of the 700 vernacular languages, plus a language with external roots (such as Arabic or English). This linguistic complexity is not just a matter of numbers and diversity but also of politics as the different languages have differing resonances for differing groups within Indonesia in this post-colonial and transnational age. Unsurprisingly, therefore, language policy has never been a simple issue in this country. For example, whilst many rural schools struggle to introduce students to Bahasa Indonesia as a medium of instruction as well as the national language, many urban schools have been so successful in introducing Bahasa Indonesia that there is now real concern about the diminishing presence of other local languages. Amidst these complexities, in 2003, the Indonesian government, as a long-term strategic goal of enabling Indonesian youth to become more competitive globally, introduced English as the medium of instruction (EMI) in the so-called International Standard Schools (ISSs). Critics argued that this level of foreign language use not only posed a threat regarding students’ national identity but also introduced linguistically-framed inequity of opportunity into the school system. For this reason, EMI was terminated in 2013. In this talk, I explore some of the linguistic complexity in Indonesian educational policies and practices, consider some implications of the use of Bahasa Indonesia and English for Indonesian linguistic diversity, and the agenda of preserving the rich linguistic heritage of the country. Lessons learnt from Indonesian case may provide useful insights for other countries with similar wealth of linguistic heritage where the national or international language is used as the language of instruction for all pupils regardless of which vernacular language they speak.
We will also do a bit of teaching in the university, on Intercultural Communication (Khwan) and Bilingualism (Fitri).