A critical period for second language acquisition: Evidence from 2/3 million English speakers

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Cainntear
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Re: A critical period for second language acquisition: Evidence from 2/3 million English speakers

Postby Cainntear » Sun Nov 22, 2020 11:52 am

Saim wrote:I'd say as advice without any other qualifications it leads to some weird outcomes, like parents talking to their children in broken English so they can get a "headstart", imposing English as the medium of instruction where teaching staff doesn't have the competence to pull it off (in Spain, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa), or throwing money at language classes that don't take them anywhere.

In the case of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the decision was likely more led by politics than by educational goals -- I suspect the Pashtun- and Hindko-speaking population were never happy at having the majority of their education in the language of another ethnic group from hundreds of miles away.

Given that the ruling party in the region is also the governing party at a national level, it seems plausible that they may have instituted the use of Pakistan's other official language because its status as the language of international trade, commerce and diplomacy will make it harder for Pashtun nationalists to push for mother-tongue education in the future. "You want to deny your children access to English??? Won't somebody think of the children?!?"

Or Hindko-speakers may have proposed the policy on similar grounds, to prevent their language(s) becoming further marginalised by a potential future move to Pashtun-medium schooling.

Equally, the initiative could have come from Pashtun-speakers who knew that Pashtun-medium education was unlikely to happen, and felt that getting Urdu out of the schools was in and of itself a way to reduce marginalisation of their language, and English's status as one of two official languages made it the easiest way to achieve that.

Or indeed, all of them could have come to realise that it served their purposes to some extent.

Regardless, I really don't think there's any genuine pedagogical thinking behind it -- one way or another it's political. (But in an on-topic, language-related way!! Please don't ban me from the forum, rdearman!!!)

But then again, all governmental education initiatives are led by politics to a certain extent, if not as explicitly as this one.
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Saim
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Re: A critical period for second language acquisition: Evidence from 2/3 million English speakers

Postby Saim » Sun Nov 22, 2020 12:47 pm

Cainntear wrote:In the case of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the decision was likely more led by politics than by educational goals -- I suspect the Pashtun- and Hindko-speaking population were never happy at having the majority of their education in the language of another ethnic group from hundreds of miles away.

Given that the ruling party in the region is also the governing party at a national level, it seems plausible that they may have instituted the use of Pakistan's other official language because its status as the language of international trade, commerce and diplomacy will make it harder for Pashtun nationalists to push for mother-tongue education in the future. "You want to deny your children access to English??? Won't somebody think of the children?!?"


True. Part of that is at play in Spain as well -- the push to implement English as a medium of instruction was lead by PP (conservative) governments and many opposition groups in Galicia and Valencia perceived this "trilingual" policy as an attack on Galician/Catalan.

That said, I do think that part of it is rooted in real observations of pedagogical outcomes: people from real [1] English-medium schools have more knowledge of English than those from Urdu- or Sindhi-medium schools (the other languages are barely used as the medium of instruction anywhere), and these people also have better professional outcomes. Now, I think the primary factor there is class and quality of education and not language (although if course if most bachelor's degrees are taught primarily in English you're at a serious disadvantage if you enter tertiary education having come out of an Urdu or Sindhi school).

They tried the same thing in Punjab more recently but it seems to have already been reversed, in favour of Urdu of course (why not Punjabi, you say? are you mad?), and was never actually implemented. I can't find any information on what the current situation is in KP; even if the official policy is in place I doubt it's being put into practice to the extent the policy would suggest (how many qualified KP teachers are actually capable of teaching science and history in English?).

[1] Even before the new PTI policies in favour of English, there were nominally "English-medium" government-run schools in Punjab, where the use of English is mostly symbolic and the teachers have to default to Urdu when they actually want to teach anything. I haven't managed to figure out which one it was but I distinctly remember this being discussed in one of Tariq Rahman's papers.

Or Hindko-speakers may have proposed the policy on similar grounds, to prevent their language(s) becoming further marginalised by a potential future move to Pashtun-medium schooling.


I do remember the (left-wing Pashtun nationalist) ANP, back when they used to consistently win elections (they've since slid into irrelevance), did propose having both Pashto- and Hindko-medium education at least at the primary level, but that's one of the things that seems to be routinely proposed in Pakistan but never ends up close to being implemented.

Then again, it was the PTI that changed the name of the province from "Northwest Frontier Province", which was also largely opposed by the Hindko-speaking population as the new name had the Pashtun ethnic name as part of it. They don't seem to have much in the way of a consistent approach to the "national" question in Pakistan.
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