II. English language curriculum reformation and pedagogical practice
STARTING FROM PRACTICE: A microanalysis of participants’ compliance to de facto L2-only schooling in a Bangladeshi ESL classroom
In postcolonial, newly independent nations, English, as a second language of colonial origin, shares a big share of global success. Although its use is often socially marginal, the presence, popularity and continued growth of ESL schools1 are strongly visible in many regions around the world. Bangladesh is no exception to this growing, global trend and there is a range of opportunities available for seekers of such mode of education. However, a cautious reading of the latest National Education Policy (Ministry of Education, 2010) as well as other government policy documents (e.g. Ministry of Planning, 2015) offers an impression that there is a tendency to evade the responsibility of offering any policy — in terms of the organisational framework as well as the language policy — of this mode of education. This approach was critiqued as a tendency to transfer the responsibility to private sector initiative to protect the space for national language (Hamid, Nguyen, & Baldauf, 2013; Hossain & Tollefson, 2007; Rahman, 2010; see also Hamid, 2010).
The current National Education Policy (Ministry of Education, 2010), for instance, does not address the presence of ESL schools in primary compulsory education (Grades 1—5).The presence and role of English are only addressed in secondary mode of education (Grades 6—12) with a thin, marginal guideline within the framework of policy for Bengali-medium schools. In this regard, it comments: "At this level, the media of instruction will be Bangla, but as per the competence of any educational institution, it may also be English” (Ministry of Education, 2010, p. 13). Given the situation of the setting, it can hardly be a scholarly (or to an extent ethical) approach to advice what ESL schools should do in their boundaries unless this matter is studied rigorously through empirical science. In terms of language policy of ESL schools in Bangladesh, the lack of policy address in the steering policy documents necessitates an obligation to study the de facto practices of this mode of education.
Having said that, the concept of language policy, in this study, is perceived under spectrums of three discrete, but interrelated, categories: (a) language policy as an issue of management, (b) language policy as beliefs or ideology, and (c) language practices (Spolsky, 2004,2005,2017; see also Bonacina, 2010; Bonacina, 2017). Under this classification, language management approach perceives policy as an issue of text available in the form of documents in national, regional, or institutional levels (cf. language policy as text in Ball, 1993;see also de jure policy in Schiffman, 1996).
That is to say, the study of policy, from a management perspective, deals with the task of offering suggestive guidelines for what language should be practiced in the field according to the expectations of policy-makers, authorities, judicial rulings, governments, or international organisations, etc.The policy as a belief or ideology approach offers to examine participants’attitude, perspective, thoughts, ideas, and other meta-issues in the forms of talks, interviews or other methods of inquiry (cf. language policy as discourse in Ball. 1993). Such approach to language policy studies participants’ perception on language policy offering how participants think about a language or use of it. Last but not the least, the language practices approach deals with in situ practices of participants’ interaction available in the form of observable-reportable patterns in and through their actual, real-life practices (cf. lie facto policy in Schiftman, 1996). To highlight the empirical standing of language practices, Spolsky has argued:
The most realistic answer resides in language practices; look at what people do and not at what they think they should do or at what someone else wants them to do. Language management remains a dream until it is implemented, and its potential for implementation depends in large measure on its congruity to the practices and ideology of the community.
(2005, p. 2161)
This language practices approach, which is of interest to the purpose of this current study, is here used as a tool of inquiry to explore what participants actually do in the field. A benefit of seeing language policy through the lens of practice, thus, is that it offers a know-how of participants' interpretations of the given policy. In this line of argument, this chapter also argues that understanding what happens in the field is an authentic empirical concern and understanding participants' actual practices, manifested in the form of everyday, mundane talk-in-interaction, is a necessity to explore the congruence between the given policy and the practice.