[lg policy] bibitem: The odd couple: Diverging paths in language policy and educational practices

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jan 19 21:02:36 UTC 2012

The odd couple: Diverging paths in language policy and educational practices

Mastin Prinsloo
University of Cape Town

This paper examines the divergences between what educational policy
calls for in South African
schools with regard to language and learning and what takes place in
schools. It argues that South
African constitutional and education policy statements employ an idea
of languages as bound entities
and systems, and combine this understanding of languages with
discourses on language rights and of
language endangerment. An alternative view studied language as
practice rather than system. From this
perspective the idea of ‘a language’ is a misleading shorthand for a
diverse range of language varieties,
genres, registers and practices. Such resources are not equally
distributed among users of these resources
and they carry different social weightings or valuations. This paper
argues that the language assumptions
in language policy ‘erase’ linguistic complexities and assume a
linguistic homogeneity and stability which
is inappropriate. A view of language is developed where language
operates as a ‘non-neutral medium’ in
stratified social contexts of all kinds. These inequalities operate
just as much within designated ‘languages’,
in terms of the varieties and their uses within that language, as
across them. The observed differences
between policy prescription and language practice provide support for
this alternative perspective on

Keywords: Language policy, ethnography, multilingualism, bilingualism, literacy.

More at: http://web.uct.ac.za/depts/educate/download/oddcouple.pdf

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