LINGUIST List 23.1774
Thu Apr 05 2012
Review: Anthropological Linguistics; Applied Linguistics; Sociolinguistics: Chimbutane (2011)
Editor for this issue: Joseph Salmons
Lorena Cordova <lorenacordova64
Rethinking Bilingual Education in Postcolonial Contexts
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AUTHOR: Chimbutane, FelicianoTITLE: Rethinking Bilingual Education in Postcolonial ContextsSERIES TITLE: Bilingual Education and BilingualismPUBLISHER: Multilingual MattersYEAR: 2011
Lorena Cordova, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en AntropologíaSocial, Mexico City
SUMMARY"Rethinking Bilingual Education in Postcolonial Contexts" is the result of anethnographic study of discursive practices around Bilingual Education (BE) inMozambique. The main objective is to analyze how BE in discourse reveals thevalues and proposals of BE, and how these local practices are closely related toinstitutional and social discourses. The research was carried out within a newparadigmatic context for language-in-education policy in Mozambique, with thegradual transition from a monolingual educational system (Portuguese Language)towards a bilingual program (Portuguese-African Languages). Feliciano Chimbutaneaims to diagnose and contribute empirically to understanding how bilingualpolicy was developed and implemented in this country.
From a practical standpoint, the author investigates two levels of impact on BE,first, the 'Micro Level' aims through the study of discursive practices to havean impact on educational planning and implementation, as well as helpingteachers to reflect on their linguistic interactions with students and theirteaching techniques. Second, the 'Macro-Level' helps teachers and plannersidentify and direct their attention to factors that prevent the insertion oflocal resources (linguistic and cultural) for the development of BE. From atheoretical perspective, Chimbutane contributes to the debate on the value of BEfrom different perspectives (economic, political, pedagogical, etc.) from anethnographic construct. This aids in understanding the role of BE in social andcultural transformation, and changes in speakers' perceptions of the value oftheir language and social practices. The book is organized into eight chapters:
In the "Introduction", Chimbutane offers methodological and theoreticaljustifications for an ethnographic perspective on language as cultural practice.According to the author, this captures the discursive nature of social andpolitical factors impacting education. These investigations are conducted in asociety where Portuguese is spoken, but where most people speak only one or moreAfrican languages (AL). The author also develops a conceptual perspectiverelated to "linguistic ethnography" (Rampton et. al., 2004; Creese, 2008).Parallel to linguistic ethnography, Chimbutane uses Heller's (2007) critical andinterpretive perspectives on bilingualism. With this combination, the authortries to show the relationship between communicative behavior, languageideologies and social order. The last section treats fieldwork methods, datatypes, and different levels of discourse analysis used in the investigation,such as the interactional, institutional and social levels.
Chapter two, 'Language and Education', presents the relationship betweenlanguage and education. First, Chimbutane treats the ideology of language policydecisions in multilingual contexts, determined by a linguistic choice thatdepends on the socio-economic and political power, in this case, localideologies about the Changana and Chope languages. Second, a conceptual andpolitical level of BE is analyzed, dealing with psychological, cultural, socialand educational advantages, indicating that BE constrains not only educational,but also political, cultural, and socioeconomic aspects. The virtues of BE arementioned as well because of the debates it has led to about national unity andsocioeconomic mobility (migration).
Subsequently, Chimbutane provides an overview of BE in sub-Saharan Africa. Thissection treats the experimental stage of BE in Africa, due to the inefficiencyof monolingual education in European languages; despite some success stories,these have not been replicated or expanded to other experiences. Languagepolicies are not guided by research findings but pragmatic concerns, andinstitutions and planners reproduce the hegemony of European languages inAfrican higher education. In the last part, the author discusses how much socialstructure is reflected in school curricula, as well as canonical patterns inclassroom discourse (teacher's right and authority to make questions, obligationof students to respond, etc.).
The third chapter, 'Mozambique: historical, Sociolinguistic and EducationalContext', consists of a critical review of discourse and language policies withmonolingual features. For example, at the peak of Portuguese presence in thecountry (1891-1942), authoritarianism, racial stratification and socialinjustice were intensified by the Separate Legal System. He also mentionslanguage ideologies that permeated the formation of the Independent Mozambiqueperiod in 1975 until recovery after the devastating Civil War in the early 80's,in October 1992. The author gives Mozambique's sociolinguistic profile, fromdemographics to the degree of intelligibility between Bantu languages spoken inthe area. For example, in 2007 the majority of Mozambicans led their lives insome Bantu language (85.3%). For the rural population, Portuguese is considereda second language or foreign language, and only 2.2% of the population reportedspeaking Portuguese.
In the next section, the author analyzes Mozambique's socio-historical languagepolicies. For example, during the colonial period, Christian groups, especiallyProtestants, developed written materials and grammars in AL, giving them greatersocial and symbolic value. Currently, in rural areas, Catholic and Protestantchurches (Anglican, Episcopal Zion and Evangelical) make greater use of thesewritten materials. Regardless of religious ideologies, these groups have beenplaying a role in developing AL.
Chimbutane also refers to two phases of language policies in nation building(after the Civil War in 1980). The first phase, the one-language-one-statevision, "was constructed as a practical and politically correct choice" (p.22).Colonial languages (Portuguese) are considered official and neutral languagesfor national unity. Multilingualism was designed as a resource to promotetribalism and regionalism. The second phase in the early 90's, leading toinstitutionalization of multilingualism and multiculturalism, is justificationfor promoting an alternative ideology of language policy and national identitybased on the recognition and promotion of African cultures and languages. In2003 this recognition was authenticated by the introduction of BE. In thissense, Chimbutane undertakes a critical analysis of a "transitional bilingualprogramme" (p.52).
The author also analyzes the limitations of this program in terms of humanresources for BE and teaching-learning materials. The lack of materials andteacher training shows that BE is still in a diglossic relationship with respectto monolingual programs in Portuguese. The author raises two main questions,which not only constrain the African context but most globally endangeredlanguages: how to teach these languages (African or threatened), and, moreoverhow to teach through them.
In chapter four, "The Research Sites: Communities, Schools and Classrooms",Chimbutane makes the description of characteristics of communities, schools andclassrooms in which he conducted the research. In the first section the authordescribes the two communities in the research study, Gwambeni and Bikwani. Bothcommunities are located in Gaza Province. These communities speak a variety ofBantu languages, but Changana and Chope are the languages with which peopleidentify. Changana, also known as Tsonga, is the most expanded language. Theeconomy of both communities is characterized by subsistence farming, informaltrade and mass migration. Working in the mines of South Africa is a dream. Withmigration to the mines, the rates of HIV/AIDS and orphaned children have beenincreasing, especially in Gwambeni. The residents of Bikwani migrate to MaputoCity (Mozambique) and South Africa, usually with their whole families. Gwambeni,known in the area as Chope, shows significant lexical influence from Changana,so it is identified as a transition zone and the speakers recognize certaintypes of linguistic hybridization. For Bikwani, intense contact with SouthAfrica has not only expanded the linguistic repertoire to include Zulu and Xhosaelement, but also in their attitudes in the Changana spoken with such SouthAfrican loanwords.
In the second section, Chimbutane describes the two schools in which theresearch was conducted. In 2007, 30% of children attended the bilingual programin Gwambeni, while in Bikwani, 15% went to it. Both "communities of practice"(Wenger, 1998) are embedded in orality and the face-to-face exchange ofknowledge. "Orality is the main channel for exchange of knowledge" (p. 67), notonly for classroom teaching but for teacher training. BE has no printedmaterials, and most existing materials are in Changana. However in the case ofChope at the community and religious levels, Changana or South African printedmaterials (Tswa "XiTswa") are used for preaching. With regard to bilingualclasses, the author notes that in Gwambeni, where the bilingual program is inChope, Changana is the language of teaching. Portuguese has the highest statusfollowed by Changana, and finally Chope. Portuguese is the language in ruralschools in Mozambique. Children come to school without knowing Portuguese,leading to limited achievement. Teachers are speakers of local languages withsome training in BE. However, most have been trained within ideologies andpractices of monolingual education. For this reason teachers often have negativeideologies toward BE.
In chapter five, "Interaction and Pedagogy in Bilingual Classrooms", Chimbutaneanalyzes and contrasts the interactional and pedagogical practices that takeplace in AL as a first language (L1), and in Portuguese as a second language(L2) in the classroom. He discusses political, theoretical and practical aspectsof BE. For example, in the first section, the author analyzes interaction andpedagogy in L1 and L1-Medium Subject Classes. Students participating in thistype of interaction show greater motivation to participate, answer and question(a kind of defiance toward authority or the experience of teachers) to teachers(cf. Hornberger, 2006). Also there is greater anticipation of responses andincreased communication skills to explain complex issues (e.g. HIV/AIDSprevention). With respect to interaction and pedagogy in L2 and L2-MediumSubject Classes, the author observed less interaction by students and greatersafetalk strategies and codeswitching. In such interactions active pupilsdisappear and the conventional ritual of class in Portuguese appears (reading,answer-writing and correcting in a group). There is "the language separationpolice adopted in bilingual programme" (p.87).
In the last section, the author discusses two topics: 1) Interaction andpedagogy, and 2) the relation between policy, theory and classroom practice. Tothe first issue, the author draws attention to three points: the necessity ofunderstanding educational tools to expand and benefit learning in L1, to knowhow knowledge is acquired in the classroom context, and analyze what the silenceof students means. Regarding the second, the author discusses two policy issues:language separation and transition from L1 to L2 as medium the instruction ingrade 4. To the first, Chimbutane refers to "translinguaging" practices (p. 101)and the merit the transitional bilingual programme has, unlike thePortuguese-monolingual system. However there are students who come withdeficiencies in Portuguese and with regard to the academic demands of the fourthgrade.
In chapter six, "Socio-cultural Impact of Bilingual Education", the authorexplores how the introduction of BE is contributing to change from variousperspectives. First, from the perspective of ethnolinguistic identity andmaintenance, to know how BE is contributing "to the construction of a distinctlocal cultural identity in the two areas" (p. 107). From the perspective ofliteracy practices in communities, the author treats the functions of literacyin LA and the impact of BE on the way in which literacy is practiced and valued,along with language awareness and development. For example, parents are learningnew words in their native languages from their children, with private records,technical words, etc. Subsequently, from the perspective of "knowledgecapitalizing", Chimbutane describes how BE facilitates the incorporation ofculturally relevant topics into school as well as proposals for curriculumtraining from sociopolitical shifts. For example, parents are seen asintellectual resources, especially when materials are in AL.
The latter part of the chapter turns to BE and sociocultural transformation.First, the author refers to the legitimation of marginalized cultural practices.Second, the author describes aspects of BE related to language maintenance andlanguage development. The sociolinguistic vitality and BE in the two areas allowa positive affirmation of local identities. Also, BE and socioculturaltransformation are contributing to the development of languages in regard to thegeneration and use of new genres and registers, and to the review and/orstandardization of spellings through the involvement and agency of teachers andparents.
Chapter seven, "Bilingual Education and Socio-ecomomic Mobility", coverssocioeconomic values attributed to BE, on the one hand the allocation of valuesto different spaces and Portuguese, and on the other the emergence of newmarkets for the AL. For example, the author describes how social actors createPortuguese hegemony in the workplace. Portuguese belongs to the formal labormarket and the AL belong to the informal economy. However, these languages makelinks among communities members and are targets of mediation between local andformal sectors. In this sense, a differential distribution of languages reflectsa separatist ideology of language policies, but also recognizes the emergentmarkets in LA and new professional areas.
The last chapter, 'Conclusion', summarizes the findings. The main focus is thepurpose and value of BE, including certain aspects of the socioeconomic value BEfor education in legal and pedagogic terms. The last analytic section deals withBE research, BE police and practice in Mozambique. "The analysis offered herecalls for the need for adaptation when importing models of BE to newsocio-political contexts" (p.167). "What is urgently needed is a joint corpusplanning effort involving different stakeholders (including the government,non-governmental organizations working in the education working in the educationsector, and local communities) aimed at resourcing African languages foreducational purposes" (p.168). Finally the author concludes: "this book has amerit of being one of the first empirical studies documenting the initial phaseof large-scale implementation of bilingual education in Mozambique, a phasewhere institutional actors as well local citizens are still working outstrategies for implementing this form of educational provision" (p.170).
EVALUATIONThis book provides a good record of how the policies and ideologies around ALhave changed or endured within discursive practices in BE. "Mozambique is oftenperceived as a democratic success and is, in regional terms, largely successful;being seen as politically stable and attaining macro-economic goals of growth(Bertelsen, 2003:1)". This process of pacification and new multiculturalistpolicies has been fundamental to the constitutional recognition of AL. However,access to human and financial resources is necessary for the proper promotionand development of BE. In this sense, the postcolonial context in which BE isbeing developed in Mozambique is a clear example that, despite constitutionalchange with regard to the promotion of AL, the social, economic and politicaldynamics remain through the reproduction of colonial or monolingual dynamics(cf. Stroud, 2007; Comaroff and Comaroff, 2009).
The book shows how BE in Mozambique, as in the Americas and other continents,has two meanings. With respect to BE where is present AL is still negativelyassessed due to the difficulties that people have accessing, in this case, thePortuguese labor market. On the other hand, where Portuguese only converges withother colonial languages like French, English, German, etc., BE has a positiveevaluation because this education and these languages can expand the developmentpossibilities in students' life quality. This type of social bilingualism isdetermined by economic policies rather than cognitive values of being bilingual(cf. King and Haboud, 2002; Heller, 2007).
Chimbutane makes a valuable contribution not only to understanding the situationof AL but also to ethnographic studies of bilingualism that conceive of alanguage as social practice, However, although Chimbutane's work is based onethnographic studies of bilingualism to perform their interpretations,ethnographic review is not always evident in the text. That is, there is nomethodological reinterpretation around ethnographic studies of discursivepractices, only a critique of discourses and practices connected with BE.
Throughout, the text shows the weaknesses of BE and its implementation, butChimbutane also shows how orality and "face-to-face of knowledge exchange" (p.67) are still part of the daily practices of 'rural Mozambique'. In this sensethere is some lack of alternative proposals, since it is not clear whatunconventional or non-dependent ways school systems and literacy might have tostrengthen local practices, how these practices are useful to confrontpostcolonial pressures and how a colonial school system can help reduceconditions of postcoloniality for speakers of AL. That is, there is no clearreflection on how to transfer practices and cultural knowledge to writing. It isalso necessary to gain insight into how to make bilingualism in Mozambiquean andSouth African languages into resources for the construction of multilingualmaterials that enhance the available economic and human resources.
Chimbutane's greatest success is demonstrating the social, political andeducational importance of ALs as a mean of instruction and not just as acurricular theme. Chimbutane helps us confirm that the omission of ALs in schoolreinforces certain postcolonial practices and, therefore, reduces the agency andlearning of students. The book itself is a political and research statementshowing both what has not yet managed to get into Mozambique BE and also thegradual change that has been generated around ideologies and language policiesin favor of AL.
REFERENCESBertelsen, Bjørn Enge. 2003. "The traditional Lion is Dead. The AmbivalentPresence of Tradition and the Relation between Politics and Violence inMozambique". Lusotopie 2003: 263-281.
Comaroff, Jean & Comaroff, John L. 2009. Dixit: Violencia y ley en laposcolonia: una reflexión sobre las complicidades Norte-Sur. Buenos Aires yMadrid: Katz Barpal Editores [en coedición con el Centro de CulturaContemporánea de Barcelona].
Creese, Angela. 2008. "Linguistic Ethnography". K. A. King and N. H. Hornberger(eds.), Encyclopedia of Language and Education, 2nd Edition, Volume 10: ResearchMethods in Language and Education. pp. 229-241. Springer Science+Business MediaLLC.
Heller, Monica. 2007. "Bilingualism as ideology and practice". Heller, Monica(ed.) Bilingualism: A social approach. pp. 1-23. Hounmills, Basingstoke:Palgrave Macmillan.
Hornberger, Nancy. 2006. "Voice and biliteracy in indigenous languagerevitalization: Contentious educational practices in Quechua, Guarani, and Maoricontexts". Journal of Language, Identity, and Education 5(4): 277-292.
King, Kendall & Haboud, Marleen. 2002. "Language Planning and Policy inEcuador". Current Issues in Language Planning Vol. 3, No. 4. pp. 359-424.
Rampton, B., K. Tusting, J. Maybin, et. al. 2004. Linguistic ethnography in theUK: A discussion paper. At http://uklef.net/documents/papers/ramptonetal2004.pdf
Stroud, Christopher. 2007. "Bilingualism: colonialism and postcolonialism".Heller, Monica (ed.) Bilingualism: A social approach. pp. 25-49. Hounmills,Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Wenger, Etienne. 1998. Communities of practice. Learning, meaning, and identity.New York: Cambridge University Press.
ABOUT THE REVIEWERLorena Cordova is a PhD Student in Anthropology at the Centro deInvestigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, Mexico City,Mexico. She is working on her doctoral thesis on language revitalization,in particular how to create strategies and educational materials forchildren in order to promote revitalization of the Chuj Maya language inMexico.
Page Updated: 05-Apr-2012