The Ideological Stance of Multilingualism in Education in Malaysia in the Press 2000-2020
Keywords:Education Policy, Indigenous and Minority Languages, Language Policy, Malaysia, Multilingualism
The past 20 years have witnessed major shifts in language and education policy in Malaysia. This reflects a range of social, economic, and political forces that influence and shape the policymaking in this multi-ethnic and multicultural country. Past research has suggested that language and education policies in Malaysia tend to have two main stances and are generally related to Malay (the national language), English, Mandarin, and Tamil. One stance is related to issues of globalization and employability, and the other is related to national and ethnic identities. In view of these stances, this paper seeks to contribute to the discussion and debates on these issues by empirically investigating inherent ideological positions in official statements published in two newspapers in the past 20 years. Specifically, it adopts concepts from critical discourse studies, and uses methods from computational linguistics to examine official statements from a total of 30,508 Malaysian newspaper articles published between 2000 and 2020. The findings indicate that the role of Malay and national ideology, and the global positioning of English continue to be central concerns in the discussion of language and education in Malaysia. In addition, the importance of learning Mandarin is also emphasized. However, indigenous and minority languages are largely absent in the discourses on education policies in the country. The effects of this exclusion are already apparent in the shift to languages like Malay, Mandarin, and English as a first language, and the increasing number of languages considered to be under threat in Malaysia.
Albury, N. J., & Aye, K. K. (2016). Malaysia’s national language policy in international theoretical context. Journal of Nusantara Studies, 1(1), 71-84.
Ariffin, A. S. (2021, February 21). Speaking up for Malaysia’s endangered indigenous languages. Free Malaysia Today. https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/leisure/2021/02/21/speaking-up-for-malaysiasendangered-indigenous-languages/
Austin, P. K., & Pillai, S. (2020). Language description, documentation and revitalisation of languages in Malaysia. Journal of Modern Languages, 30, 1-5.
Bourdieu, P. (1993). The field of cultural production. Polity.
Coluzzi, P. (2017). Language planning for Malay in Malaysia: A case of failure or success? International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 2017(244), 17-38.
Cook, V., & Li, W. (Eds.). (2016). The Cambridge handbook of multi-competence. Cambridge University Press.
De Houwer, A., & Ortega, L. (Eds.). (2019). The Cambridge handbook of bilingualism. Cambridge University Press.
Department of Statistics Malaysia. (2011). Population distribution and basic demographic characteristic report 2010 [updated 5 August 2011]. https://www.dosm.gov.my/v1/index.php?r=column/ctheme&menu_id=L0pheU43NWJwRWVSZklWdzQ4TlhUUT09&bul_id=MDMxdHZjWTk1SjFzTzNkRXYzcVZjdz09
Eberhard, D. M., Simons, G. F., & Fennig, C. D. (Eds.). (2020). Ethnologue: Languages of the world (23rd ed.). SIL International.
Economic Planning Unit. (1993). Midterm review, The Sixth Malaysia Plan. Government of Malaysia.
Fairclough, N. (2012). Critical discourse analysis. In J. P. Gee & M. Handford (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of discourse analysis (pp. 9-21). Routledge.
García, O., & Li, W. (2014). Translanguaging: Language, bilingualism and education. Palgrave Macmillan.
García, O., & Tupas, R. (2019). Doing and undoing bilingualism in education. In A. De Houwer & L. Ortega (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of bilingualism (pp. 390-407). Cambridge University Press.
Gill, S. K. (2002). International communication: English language challenges for Malaysia. UPM Press.
Gill, S. K. (2014). Language policy challenges in multi-ethnic Malaysia. Springer.
Hashim, A. (2009). Not plain sailing: Malaysia’s language choice in policy and education. AILA Review, 22(1), 36-51.
Hashim, A., & Leitner, G. (2020). English in Southeast Asia and ASEAN: Transformation of language habitats. Routledge.
Hoon, C. Y., & Kuntjara, E. (2019). The politics of Mandarin fever in contemporary Indonesia:
Resinicization, economic impetus, and China’s soft power. Asian Survey, 59(3), 573-594.
Kaur, P., & Shapii, A. (2018). Language and nationalism in Malaysia: A language policy perspective. International Journal of Law, Government and Communication, 3(7), 1-10.
Kementerian Perpaduan Negara. (2021). Dasar Perpaduan Negara [National Unity Policy]. Kementerian Perpaduan Negara.
Kirkpatrick, A. (2012). English in ASEAN: Implications for regional multilingualism. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 33(4), 331-344.
Low, E. L., & Ao, R. (2018). The spread of English in ASEAN: Policies and issues. RELC Journal, 49(2), 131-148.
Low, E. L., & Hashim, A. (Eds.). (2012). English in Southeast Asia: Features, policy and language in use. John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Ministry of Education Malaysia. (2013). Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013–2025.
Ministry of Education Malaysia. (2015). English language education reform in Malaysia: The roadmap 2015–2025.
Ministry of Education Malaysia. (2017). Hala tuju pendidikan bahasa Melayu 2016–2025. [Directions for Malay language education].
Ministry of Education Malaysia. (2018). 2018 Annual report Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013–2025.
Ministry of Education Malaysia. (2019). Surat Pekeliling Ikhtisas KPM Bil 6 2019. https://www.moe.gov.my/pekeliling/3054-spi-bil-6-tahun-2019-pelaksanaan-kssm-menengah-atas-dan-pakej-mata-pelajarantahun-2020/file
Mohd Rus, A. K. A., & Sharif Adam, S. D. (2008). Akta Bahasa Kebangsaan 1967: Isu, reaksi dan cabaran [The National Language Act 1867: Issues, reactions and challenges]. Sejarah: Journal of the Department of History, 16(16),123-148.
Nagaraj, S., Nai-Peng, T., Chiu-Wan, N., Kiong-Hock, L., & Pala, J. (2015). Counting ethnicity in Malaysia: The complexity of measuring diversity. In P. Simon, V. Piché, & A. Gagnon (Eds.), Social statistics and ethnic diversity (pp. 143-173). IMISCOE research series. Springer Cham.
Nasa, A., & Pilay, S. (2017, April 23). International schools: Why their numbers are growing. New Straits Times. https://www.nst.com.my/news/exclusive/2017/04/233140/international-schools-why-theirnumbers-are-growing
Nieto, S. (2010). Language, culture, and teaching: Critical perspectives (2nd ed.). Routledge.
Omar, A. H. (1996). Post-imperial English in Malaysia. In J. A. Fishman, A. W. Conrad, & A. Rubal-
Lopez (Eds.), Post-imperial English: Status change in former British and American colonies, 1940–1990 (pp. 513-533). Mouton de Gruyter.
Pillai, S., & Ong, L. T. (2018). English(es) in Malaysia. Asian Englishes, 20(2), 147-157.
Puteh, A. (2006). Language and national building: A study of the language medium policy in Malaysia. SIRD.
Rashid, R. A., Abdul Rahman, S. B., & Yunus, K. (2017). Reforms in the policy of English language teaching in Malaysia. Policy Futures in Education, 15(1), 100-112.
Report of the Education Committee 1956. (1956). Government Printers. https://www.fcmsm.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Razak-Report-1956.pdf
Roff, M. (1967). The politics of language in Malaya. Asian Survey, 7(5), 316-328.
Smidt, E., Chau, M. H., Rinehimer, E., & Leever, P. (2021). Exploring engagement of users of Global Englishes in a community of inquiry. System, 98.
Sinclair, J. (1991). Corpus, concordance, collocation. Oxford University Press.
Spolsky, B. (2004). Language policy. Cambridge University Press.
Starr, R. L., & Kapoor, S. (2021). “Our graduates will have the edge”: Linguistic entrepreneurship and the discourse of Mandarin enrichment centers in Singapore. Multilingua, 40(2),155-174.
Tan, Y. S., & Teoh, H. S. (2015). The development of Chinese education in Malaysia, 1952–1975: Political collaboration between the Malaysian Chinese Association and the Chinese educationists. History of Education, 44(1), 83-100.
Tan, P. K. W. (2005). The medium-of-instruction debate in Malaysia: English as a Malaysian language? Language Problems and Language Planning, 29(1), 47-66.
Tham, I., Chau, M. H., & Thang, S. M. (2020). Bilinguals’ processing of lexical cues in L1 and L2: An eye-tracking study. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 33(7), 665-687.
Tupas, R. (2018). (Un)framing language policy and reform in Southeast Asia. RELC Journal, 49(2), 149-163.
van Dijk, T. (1998). Editorial: Discourse and ideology. Discourse & Society, 9(3), 307-308.
Watson, K. (2007). Language, education and ethnicity: Whose rights will prevail in an age of globalisation? International Journal of Educational Development, 27(3), 252-265.
Woolside-Jiron, H. (2011). Language, power and participation: Using critical discourse analysis to make senses of public policy. In R. Rogers (Ed.), An introduction to critical discourse analysis in education (pp. 154-182). Routledge.
Yap. J. (2015, August 9). Turning a new PAGE. The Borneo Post Online. https://www.theborneopost.com/2015/08/09/turning-a-new-page/
Zhou, M., & Wang, X. (2017). Introduction: Understanding language management and multilingualism in Malaysia. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 2017(244), 1-16.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 Society for South-East Asian Studies (SEAS)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Articles published before December 2019 are licensed under the following Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported. Articles published after that date are licensed under the following Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International.