Editorial introduction: challenges for bilingual education in the age of globalization
Over the last 15 years or so, roughly coinciding with a new phase of globalization, possibilities for knowledge exchanges and interactions within the Asia region have intensified. But along with the excitement afforded by these possibilities there is a growing disquiet in critical circles about English becoming more central than ever in the academic domain. The reasons for this disquiet are many, and they don’t always come out of the concern to preserve and cultivate non-Western languages for their own sake. Along with the increased significance of English comes a greater dependence on (a) publishing companies in the Anglophone world (and the consequent dependence on the materials they commission, process and decide to publish); (b) citation indices and modes of academic certification promoted by the Western academy and its institutional apparatuses; (c) teaching methods suited to monolingual English-only settings. Whether it is in the Asian societies that have been directly colonized by the West, like South Asia or some parts of Southeast Asia, or whether it is in East Asia which is being increasingly drawn into a globalized academic space, we see the de-legitimation of more local modes of writing outside the English-language circle and the devaluation of forms of knowledge that are rendered illegible under enforced mono-lingualism.
In March 2014, a workshop was organized at Lingnan University, Hong Kong, to think through some of these language issues under an Inter-Asia rubric. The workshop was intended to be an initial attempt to map the complex language situation in the Asian higher education classroom. Participants addressed the academic contexts of Hong Kong, India, China, Malaysia, and Taiwan, putting together in the process an indicative list of the kinds of issues we could tackle in future through research as well as intervention. The four papers selected for this section of the journal issue reflect on the existing globalizing classroom, and show how bi- and tri-lingualism are not just part of the situation of everyday interaction but also an important feature of knowledge production and dissemination.
Tejaswini Niranjanais Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Humanities atLingnan University, Chair of the Centre for Indian Languages in Higher Education at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Culture & Society. Her most recent book is Mobilizing India: Women, Music and Migration between India and Trinidad (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 2006). She is currently working on a multi-media project on the social history of Hindustani music in Bombay city.