Learning English and other languages in multilingual settings: Myths and principles

Thomas Andrew KIRKPATRICK

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract

More than one billion people now use English as a second or additional language, largely to communicate with other second language users with whom they do not share a cultural and linguistic background. While some may debate whether English is really as important for all as is claimed, the widespread demand for English is here for the foreseeable future. Without exception, Ministries of Education throughout East and Southeast Asia have decided that English is a vital skill that must be learned by their citizens from as early an age as possible, if their respective countries are to modernize and to be able to participate in today’s globalised world. In this seminar, I want to discuss the teaching and learning of English by these multilingual users, and consider the challenges that the desire to learn English places on the learner and the curriculum. My context will be on schools in the Asian region and my focus will be on the relationship between English and local languages in the school curriculum. Is, for example, the relationship between English and local languages complementary or competitive? In this context I shall also consider the recent fine-tuning debate about EMI in Hong Kong schools and propose an alternative. This seminar will consider ways in which English might be taught which would help maintain and nurture the child’s mother tongue as a basis for the acquisition of multilingualism on the one hand, and allow the child to develop an understanding of English as a pluricentric language on the other. This will require arguing that three well-accepted beliefs about the learning of languages are, in fact, myths. Three new principles will be proposed to replace the three myths, principles which would more easily allow the teaching and learning of English alongside local languages. Copyright © 2009 The Hong Kong Institute of Education.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherThe Hong Kong Institute of Education
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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Citation

Kirkpatrick, A. (2009). Learning English and other languages in multilingual settings: Myths and principles. Hong Kong: The Hong Kong Institute of Education.