Disjunction between language policy and children's sociocultural ecology – an analysis of English-medium education policy in Pakistan

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Abstract

Sociocultural theory and constructionists propose that language learning is a socially and culturally mediated process, and they emphasize on social interaction. This study examines the amount of students’ exposure to the school language to account for the link between English-medium policies in low-fee English-medium schools and children's sociocultural ecology. Employing a mixed methodology, the study draws samples (245 students, 8 teachers, and 11 school principals) from 11 schools in Pakistan. Sociocultural ecology denotes the languages students come into contact, either passive or active, in domains such as schools, homes, and via media. Results suggest that majority of children belong to uneducated or less-educated families whose exposure to English language is negligible through either reading material, social interaction, or via media. Urdu is the de facto language of interaction in schools. English is limited to occasional clichés, superficial norms, or cosmetic behavioral commands than genuine communication intent. Based on data and experts’ views, study concludes that English language stands foreign to sociocultural ecologies of most children which results in several disadvantages – incomprehension of subject material, rote learning, reduced creativity/critical thinking, and parents’ disengagement from the teaching/learning processes. We propose for a mother tongue-based multilingual policy for earlier stages of schooling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-473
JournalLanguage and Education
Volume5
Issue number29
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • sociocultural ecologysocial exposureEnglish language in Pakistaninput, output, and sociocultural theoryparental support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language

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