Justification of topic Cambodia is a country in transition Challenges related to Cambodia‟s English language education Have been a presenter at CamTESOL 2006 and 2009 (vested interest) Place of work is currently marketing in Cambodia Changes in the status of foreign languages in Cambodia vis-à-vis the country‟s checkered political and economic history, and links to linguistic change English as the global languageEnglish is Checkered scarfbecoming “kharma”integrated into = checkeredCambodia life history
Out of the heart of darkness Au revoir, le Français Hello English Komphlech (don‟t forget your past) in Khmer Q: Why has English become so widely used in a country that was once governed by France, subjected to unimaginable genocide and is still home to many francophone intellectuals and elite? A: The arrival of foreign culture through tourism, international scholarships and international aid agencies
English as a global language - a need in Cambodia Recent years - Cambodia has underdone massive political and economic turmoil and its people have suffered immeasurably Re-arising – government and people of Cambodia have chosen English as the second language to communicate and do business with people, organisations and companies from abroad Cambodia hopes to enter the World Trade Organisation (common language = English) ENGLISH IS THE LANGUAGE OF CLEAR LANGUAGE POLICY = IMPACT ADVANTAGE ON:(Collins, 1990, p.211) LIFE EDUCATION FUTURE
Power and language in general Language is an important tool for information and communication in the age of globalisation “The most important factor accelerating the development of a single global lifestyle is the proliferation of the English language” (Nasibett&Aburdene, 1990,p.140) “English is the de facto global language” (Crystal, 1997; Gladdol, 1997) English is not replacing [other languages] it is supplementing and co-existing and allowing strangers to communicate across linguistic boundaries” (Hasman, 2000, p.5)ENGLISH ENJOYS A PRIVILEGED STATUSThe universal nature of second language learning is partly due to the globalisation phenomena or „interconnectedness” between politics, economy and culture, and the fact that English acts as a pivotal part of the global infrastructure (Cochrane & Pain, 2000, pp.15-17) for information and communication today.
A time line – power influences on language „choice‟ in Cambodia since 1953
Era 1 - Khmer• Khmer – earliest recorded and written Mon- Khmer language• Used since before 600 CE• Progressed through 4 linguistic periods• Since 1993 Cambodia‟s official language – spoken by 95% of population (CIA FACTBOOK: Cambodia)
Era 2 – French„Cambodge‟ under the rule of France. French as an L2 for over 100 years.(French, the lingua franca of Indochina – Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam)French only taught in schools 1953-1970. French alongside English 1970-1975French banned during Pol Pot‟s Democratic Kampuchean regime 1976-1979French and English prohibited 1979-1986French still crucial for health and medical industryOlder Cambodian survivors still use French as an L2Frequently still used in government and various schools and universities funded by Frenchgovernment“Although appreciative of France‟s aid, many Cambodians feel that the insistence onFrench is a a little impractical in an age where the argot of economic recovery is English”(Prusher, 2001)
Chinese language – once bannedFirst enforced by the Khmer republic in 1970,lifted in 1992 (more than 20 years later)Now an astonishing growth in Chinese-languageschools and the 1% of ethnic ChineseCambodians have embraced their heritagelanguage (previously Khmer by default) (Clayton,2006)Now needed for economic demand and utility
Era 3 – Pol Pot regime (1975-1979) Irrevocable trauma under Khmer Rouge communist regime All schools closed = no education =no teaching or learning of foreign languages including ENGLISH• Lethal penalties for wearing glasses ( = intellectual)• The educated and speakers of foreign languages including ENGLISH tortured/massacredEra 4 – Vietnamese occupation (1979-1989) Vietnamese and Russian introduced as foreign languages French and English PROHIBITED
Era 5 – Arrival of English Cold war (end 1980s) French and English taught Seed of English planted during UNTAC mission (1991-1993) – cooperation of 60,000 Cambodians with 20,000 peacekeepers from 34 nations (French and English spoken but French became marginalised). Marked the start of English dominance among foreign languages in Cambodia ASEAN put „tremendous pressure” on Cambodia in 2000“Cambodian representatives, delegates and conferees must know English” (Clayton, 2007, p.101)
Cambodia‟s renewal and the new millennium1999 Entry into ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) – announced official return to the international arenaTHUS English language demands Political stability Economic growth and shift towards market economy encouraged the study and use of English Universities opened (many private) integrating English as part of the curriculum
English and International AidInternational Aid agencies – 6 major donor countries to Cambodia(Japan, US, France, Germany, Sweden, Australia). Excluding France,these countries facilitate the use and study of English in the processof implementing their development assistanceInfluence on Cambodian people‟s language choice:Aid enterprise hires significant numbers of Cambodians – use anddemand knowledge of English (Clayton, p.102)Aid agencies work actively in schools and universities providingforeign –language education and training foreign-language teachers(p.103) [Mostly French in the 1990s and overwhelmingly English now]RESULT: Cambodians currently prefer English instead of French.Khmer is domestically active but of minor status internationally andacademically.
English and other languages in Cambodia todayStill remains one of the poorest nations. Between 33% - 50% of 13 millionpeople live in abject poverty on less than US$1 a day (Tully, 2006)Cambodia integrating into the global society with English widely used aslanguage for business, education and developmentRepresents hope for a better future and solves common issues in theKingdomOpens doors - English serving as gatekeeper to high-paying jobsAccess to information not available in KhmerChinese – used mostly for business – many formal education privateschools teach ChineseKorean – strong governmental relationship - Investors - Legal work opportunities in Korea providing high salaries
Cambodians speak… “English is more than just a bridge…without this language [English] to communicate, you won‟t be on the stage to compete” (2010) TepLivina (24 years old) – abandoned gang peers and escaped from alcoholism. English graduate , Institute of Foreign languages, Phnom Penh. Now, sales executive for Japanese-run Sumitomo Corp. Phnom Penh Read his story http://teplivina.com
“I can seethe world in a Cambodians speak bigger, clearer “You learn English topicture than I survive. It‟s a language you could have if acquire for your stomach” I hadn‟t learned English” Speaking at least basically or intermediary [English] is necessary to be in the workforce, in the market place and to thrive in higher education in this modern society” KiengRotana (43) former interpreter for UNTAC. Studied English for 2 years in Australia. Teacher of ESL. Vice Chancellor of Pannasastra University (where English competency is mandatory).
And others speak… “You are doing more than just teaching a foreign language. You are teaching a life skill that will be crucial to the future prosperity of this country. English, as I have often stressed, is no longer a language. It is, instead, a tool, a weapon, a vehicle. A tool to build a stronger society, a weapon to combat poverty and ignorance, and a vehicle for those who possess it to travel anywhere they choose throughout the world and be understood and to understand”.U.S. Ambassador to CambodiaJoseph A. Mussomeli wearing a„krama‟ traditional Khmer checkeredscarf. Opening address atCamTESOL, July 2008
The importance of English today in Cambodia Developing country Fast growing education system and business Included in formal education in high school Most tertiary study materials in Khmer have been destroyed Key to prosperity Boom is intensifying
Challenges for Cambodian teachers of English Professional development needs scarcely addressed (Igawa, p.357) English is treated as the first L2, French as the 2nd L2 Language resources shifting from French to English(Clayton, 2002) courtesy of aid organisations Buildings remain as post war and shortage of resourcesLittle electricity-used equipment – shortage of budgetRequire simple resources (pictures etc.) all educational material destroyed in the genocideLow salary – lack of PD as have to work second jobs to supplement incomeOnly a small number of Cambodian teachers of English are ELT majors. Most teach because they can speak English
Cambodians speak again… I spent three years learning Russian and Vietnamese, but at the fall of the communist bloc, I was told to learn English for a year and become an English teacher Resource manager. Independent Learning Centre. ACE, Phnom Penh. ACE employs 60 expatriate teachers and management staff and 50 Cambodian staff
Conclusion and how to assist It is essential if the Cambodian people wish to maintain their cultural ties to retain the Khmer language It is essential for any kind of advancement to learn how to speak English Cambodia, once isolated by civil wars, is gradually integrating into the regional and global economy Cambodia NEEDS English language teacher training support. To assist:CamTESOLwww.camtesol.org/Teachers across boarders – an organisation committed to helping teachers working in fragile educational environments - www.teachersacrossborders.org/