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Globalized Communication - Essay Example

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Culture is defined as "the collective programming of the mind which distinguished the members of one human group from another Culture, in this sense, includes systems of values; and values are among the building blocks of culture" (Hofstede, 1994).
In his parliamentary speech in 1986, then Singapore minister for education, Tony Tan Keng Yam said: "Our policy of bilingualism that each child should learn English and his mother tongue, I regard as a fundamental feature of our education system…
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Download file to see previous pages "The racial, cultural, and linguistic mosaic of Singapore underscores the importance of language management throughout the educational system in the country. Much of the success of language management in Singapore is the result of a long-standing policy of multiracialism, multiculturalism, and multilingualism." (Pakir, 1999). English was chosen as the working language, being "neutral" because it was not the language of any of the three major ethnic groups (Malay, Chinese & Indian). The bilingual policy placed English as the official language that the whole population should know.
The multilingualism of Singapore has given birth to a colloquial language mostly spoken by the English-knowing public. Known as "Singlish" (short for Singapore English), it differs from English in rhythm and intonation, stress patterns, vowel length and quality and sometimes also word order. "It is the nature of widely spoken languages to fragment into dialects, then into new languages, as Latin did into French, Italian, Spanish and others." (Mydans, 2001) The same is true with English, as more and more countries are adapting it to their own languages. "As they emerge, the world's various Englishes reflect the needs, personality and linguistic roots of their home ground." (Mydans, 2001).
"Singlish is simply Singaporean slang, whereby English follows Chinese grammar and is liberally sprinkled with words from the local Chinese, Malay and Indian dialects. Take jiat gentang, which combines the Hokkien word for "eat" (fiat), with the Malay word for "potato" (gentang). Jiat gentang describes someone who speaks with a pretentious Western accent (since potatoes are considered a European food), as in "He went to Oxford to study, now he come back to Singapore, only know how to fiat gentang."" (Tan, 2002)
Students are exposed to the English language at the start of their formal schooling. Lee Kwan Yew, the main architect of the bilingual education policy believes that learning a second language early on leads to higher proficiency. He declares, "Language is a key to the acquisition of knowledge. If a student is unable to understand a language, then he is unable to receive information or knowledge in that language. It is therefore crucial that a breakthrough must be made in the English language as early in life as possible." (as cited in Platt, 1982)
The concern for connecting to the world in a global community while maintaining one's cultural roots and identity has given birth to the concept of English in Singapore as being "glocal". Derived from the words "global" and "local", it makes for greater awareness of intercultural and cross-cultural exchanges. It indicates that one has to be open to new ideas and yet be embedded in one's own culture. Today, the call is for citizens of all nations is to "Think globally , act locally." (Pakir, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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