Prof. Saran Kaur Gill
saran at pkrisc.cc.ukm.my
Wed Nov 3 05:25:52 UTC 2004
First, allow me to say how much I have benefited from the regular
interchanges on various issues in the field.
I thought it would be relevant and timely to share with all of you the
objectives of a research project that I am heading. This is on "Language
Policy and Planning in Higher Education in Malaysia: Responding to the
Needs of a Knowledge Economy." This is funded by the Malaysian Government
and is scheduled from October 2003-October 2005.
If any of you know of any similar project that may deal with similar
concerns please do let me know - it would be good to work comparatively on
these issues which are so important for Malaysia in these present times.
BRIEF BACKGROUND TO THE PROJECT
Malaysia has adopted a nationalistic language policy for the past thirty
years. (Asmah, 1979) (Awang Had Salleh, 1994). Bahasa Malaysia has been
used as the medium of instruction and the language of knowledge in the
public institutions of higher learning. Presently, public universities are
having to face the winds of change with regards language policy and
planning. One of the major reasons for this is the need to build up human
resources in the field of science and technology needed for the knowledge
Due to the change and challenges which face institutions of higher
learning, many countries in Asia including Malaysia are having to
re-examine their language policies, and to provide space and major
consideration for the English language in its capacity as an international
language. (Ho and Wong, 2000); (Gill, 2002); (Gill, 2003).
In this context, it will be important for the nation for this research to
examine and analyse the present changes and make recommendations to face
the challenges in national language policy and planning amidst the varying
needs and demands of globalization and the knowledge economy in the context
of higher education in Malaysia.
Malaysia has faced the above challenges by taking the bold pragmatic step
of a drastic change in language policy re: the language of education. She
has re-adopted the English language as the medium of instruction for
science and mathematics. The arts subjects are still taught in Bahasa
Malaysia in the education system. (Chok Suat Ling, 2002)
Given this drastic change in language policy for science and technology,
and the fact that the maintenance and preservation of national identity
through language is still an important consideration for the nation, it
will be important to examine and assist with the implementation of the
changes in language policy in higher education.
This is because institutions of higher learning play a pivotal role in the
implementation of this far-reaching policy decision. The first cohort of
students educated in English in science will be entering universities in
the year 2005. Therefore universities need to prepare themselves for this.
This change in language policy places tremendous pressure and demands on
the academics. This is largely because the varying language policies have
over time resulted in a generation of academics who may be more fluent in
Bahasa Malaysia than in English. Therefore, it is important in this
context that academics are provided with as much support as possible to
ensure that the policy is implemented smoothly and successfully.
The core business of being an academic is to conduct research to expand the
boundaries of knowledge. But it is important for academics not only to
develop specialist knowledge but to ensure that students, specialist
colleagues and society both nationally and internationally benefit from and
are aware of their work. As a result, their academic activities will
incorporate instructional and interactional communicative competencies of
lecturing, tutoring, carrying out fieldwork with their students and that of
professional academic communicative competencies which involve presenting
papers at conferences and writing for publication in academic journals.
Therefore, in examining the implementation of the language policy in higher
education, it will be important to assess the academic staff in the field
of science and technology (which incorporates the engineering, science and
technology, technology and information sciences) to determine their levels
of readiness in terms of their instructional and interactional
communicative competencies, their professional academic communicative
competencies and their attitude (motivation and satisfaction) in the
implementation of the change in language policy for higher education.
1st General Objective EXAMINATION OF THE LANGUAGE POLICY AND PLANNING FOR
HIGHER EDUCATION IN MALAYSIA
Specific Objective: To examine and document changes in language policy
and planning in the field of science and technology in higher education in
1. To examine and determine the present changes in national
language policy and planning amidst the varying demands of nationalism
and modernization in the context of higher education
2. To examine tradition and change: managing change in
traditional settings in the context of higher education
3. To examine the dominance of the English
language as the language of science and its effects
on other languages and language communities.
4. To examine institutional strategy for the
adoption of the change in language policy for
science and technology in institutions of higher
5. To identify the implications of the
adoption of the change in language policy on lecturers in
the science and technology disciplines.
2nd General Objective EXAMINATION OF THE READINESS OF ACADEMIC STAFF IN
CHANGES AND CHALLENGES OF LANGUAGE POLICY AND PLANNING IN HIGHER
EDUCATION IN MALAYSIA
Specific Objectives: i. To determine the readiness of academic
staff based on:
a. the attitude (motivation and satisfaction)
in the implementation of
English as the medium of instruction.
b. the instructional and interactional
c. the professional academic
ii. To develop benchmarking of instructional
and interactional competencies and
professional academic communicative
competencies required in English of lecturers
in the various disciplines of science and
technology in higher education.
If there are comments, suggestions, advice please do not hesitate to get in
touch with me.
With best regards,
Prof. Dr. Saran Kaur Gill
Professor of Sociolinguistics and International Communication
School of Language Studies and Linguistics
Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
More information about the Lgpolicy-list