WP17 Globalisation, Diaspora and Language Education in England

Harris, Leung & Rampton


This paper seeks to:
? outline the ways in which notions of ?globalisation? and ?diaspora? have changed the ways we can conceptualise language, ethnicity and the nation-state
? describe how education policy has responded to these changes, referring in particular to the language education of newcomers and pupils with diaspora connections
? illustrate something of the reality of life in schools, and of the failure of current policy to engage with this.
England provides the frame for our discussion, and some of the processes we describe are specific to the local English historical context. English education policy is not alone, however, in its failure to engage adequately with multi-lingualism in a globalised era; people in other places are just as ill-served by analytical vocabularies that take notions like ?community? and ?native-speaker? for granted;2 and indeed, the argument we develop in this paper is well-summarised in Cameron McCarthy?s comments on North America (1998:154-5). To provide a historical baseline for our discussion, the first part of the paper looks back at the educational response to ethno-linguistic diversity in the mid to late 1980s, before ?globalisation? became such a salient issue in academic and everyday discourse. We then consider some of the ways in which our understanding of the relations between language, ethnicity and the nation-state has been challenged by globalisation over the last 10 to 15 years. The impact on education policy in general, and language education in particular, provides the focus for the subsequent two sections, one devoted to Conservative policy 1988-1997 and the other to more recent innovations resulting from the change of government in 1997. Then in the final section, we present two vignettes, illustrations of the gap between what students need and what policy has to offer.