Med Can Quang, 2010
1. What is bilingual education?
Bilingual education involves teaching all subjects in school through two different languages and the practice of teaching students in their native language. Instruction occurs in the national/majority language, (regional/international language), and a minority language (Baker, 2006) with varying amounts of each language used in accordance with the specific program purposes, types, forms, and models.
Bilingual education is the concept widely used in multilingual countries. However, they express this concept with different terms. Some of those programs are Mother (Tongue) Language Teaching in Singapore (Singapore Education, 2003), Bilingual Education in Cambodia (Chap and Thomas, 2003), and Bilingual Education, or minority language education for some ethnic groups in Vietnam (Donald, 1998-2003), foreign language immersion program (or heritage language immersion program) offering for minority and indigenous students in the US (Lenker & Rhodes, 2007). Sometimes Mother Language Teaching in Singapore was named Bilingual education in majority languages, meaning English plus one of the national languages (Baker, 2006).
Actually, in most of the nations, accompanied with national language education, there are two main language programs, foreign language teaching for the sake of national development, and minority (heritage) language teaching for the sake of national heritage preservation. However the terms bilingual education and mother-tongue teaching program sometimes are used more often in some research in developing nations referring to a minority language teaching program (MLTP) in which ethnic minority/indigenous languages are taught as a subject among other compulsory subjects in majority language. The term mentions to all native languages. They are other than the instruction (in national official language), taking place in general nationwide schools, which is the Kinh language in Vietnam and English in the United States.
2. Types of bilingual education
There are two basic types of bilingual education:
- Teach in the students’ native tongue (minority language) with a little instruction in English (national language), as a means of protecting and maintaining minority/indigenous native language and culture ("native language instruction").
- Intensively teach national language (English in America, Vietnamese in Vietnam) with assistance of student home languages when the student cannot understand, as a means of moving the child into mainstream classes taught in English as quickly as possible ("ESL" or "English as a Second Language" programs). (Hardy, 1997)
In typical developed nations such as the US, the following are several different subtypes of bilingual education program models existing without clearly distinctive boundaries:
1. Transitional Bilingual Education or Early-Exit. This includes education in a child's native language, typically for less than three years, to ensure that students do not fall behind in content areas like math, science, and social studies while they are learning English. The goal is to help student transition to mainstream, English-only classrooms as soon as possible. The overwhelming majority of bilingual programs in the U.S. are transitional.
2. Developmental Bilingual Education or Late-Exit. Education is in the child's native language for an extended duration until the fifth or sixth grade or longer, accompanied by education in English. The goal is to develop bilingualism and biliteracy in both languages, therefore the students continue receiving part of their instruction in the native language even after they become proficient in English and completely transfer into submersion education.
3. Bilingual Immersion Education/ foreign (heritage) language immersion program
3a. Partial immersion programs: These programs provide ESL instruction, and a small amount of time (e.g., one hour each day or some hours each week) may be set aside temporarily for instruction in a native language, but the goal is to gain an understanding of and respecting for other cultures and to move to mainstream, English as quickly as possible. This can be considered as transitional bilingual education.
3b. Two-Way immersion programs or Dual Language Bilingual Education: These programs are less commonly permitted in US schools, though research indicates they are extremely effective in helping students learn English well. The goal is to help native and non-native English speakers become bilingual and bi-literate. As in 2009, there are more than 343 two-way immersion programs in 27 States in the US (Center for applied linguistics, 2009).
3c. Total immersion programs or immersion programs: almost 100% of class time is spent in the native language. Subject matter taught in native language and language learning by itself is combined throughout the curriculum. Even in total immersion, the language of the curriculum may revert to English language after years. The goals are to become functionally proficient in the native language, to master subject content taught in the native languages, and to gain an understanding of and respecting for other cultures.
In typical developing nations, as Vietnam, the language programs in education must be multilingual education viewed in general, bilingual education viewed in specific language program with the Vietnamese language. English is compulsory subject taught from secondary to college. French, Russian, and Chinese are optional subjects from high school to college. Minority languages are taught optionally at elementary level in request of communities such as, Chinese and Khmer (in 9 years from grade 1 to 9), Cham (in 5 years from grade 1 to 5), Ede, Jarai, Bahna, and Hmong (in 5 years, from grade 1 to 3 total minority immersion program, from grade 4 to 5, minority language as an optional subject). Minority language teaching programs use minority languages from 10 to 20% of curriculum, which is equal to 2 to 4 periods a week (Circular 01, 1997; Vietbao VNN, 2004, Quang, 2005).
3. Bilingual Education Forms
The way communities have position themselves in terms of the above mentioned types of bilingualism have resulted in various educational models in the classrooms. Bilingual education forms are conceived in this paper again based on the work of Baker (2006, p. 288), who noted that: “Research generally supports ‘strong’ forms of bilingual education where student’s home language is cultivated by the school. ‘Weak’ form of bilingual education where the student’s second language is replaced for educational purposes by a second majority language.”
However, May (2008) approaches bilingual education forms in a broader sense and presents three common programs used in the US and abroad: non-bilingual, weak, and strong.
- Non-bilingual programs include Submersion, ESL and Sheltered Instruction programs. These all represent subtractive models in which the home language is replaced by the learning of the second, mainstream language. The majority language is the only one to be learned by students and the only one used in class. Rarely can be seen these programs nowadays in the world though most of schools in the U.S. are non-bilingual, English only by literal and figurative senses.
- Weak bilingual programs include Transitional Bilingual Education. This is still considered a subtractive model in that the use of the L1 is allowed only as a springboard for the learning of the majority language. It aims to transition students from their L1 to the L2 while allowing some learning of subject areas in the L1.
- Strong bilingual programs include Maintenance Bilingual Programs, Immersion and Heritage programs. These are additive models that aim to maintain and develop the home language while the second language is being learned. The outcomes of these models are to develop bilingualism and biliteracy.
4. World Models of Mother Language Education (Bilingual Education)
The purposes of MLTP are generally to promote academic achievement and mother language literacy, yet some actual programs focus on only the first, or the second or both as following samples. For the purpose of improving academic achievement, the mother tongue is normally used in Britain to refer to the first language acquired by children. It relates to native languages other than English (national language), which may be taught as a school subject accompanied by content-based subjects in English (national language) (Martin-Jones, 1984). The concept of mother-tongue education, or the use of minority students’ native languages as a means of instruction, is widely considered to be valuable for students (Tollefson, 1991). Tollefson argues that children who have not learned English might be seriously disadvantaged by having to learn in English-medium classes. Therefore the principle of equality means that the government needs to provide mother-tongue classes until students are able to participate equitably in English-medium classes. This has led to several research projects and several important reports. Alan Bullock’s (1975) examination of all aspects of English teaching (i.e., the relationship between speaking and listening and reading and writing, handwriting and spelling, and children with special reading difficulties) resulted in a unified national policy on language and mother tongue education. In case of Cham students in Vietnam, Cham language used as instruction only in the Cham classes while in other Kinh-medium classes they were treated as the Kinh native speakers, regardless their limitation in Kinh. They had to overcome the language gap by individually. How they did make it or need some extra help has been contradictory perceptions.
For the promotion of bilingualism and multilingualism, the European Communities Directive on the Education of Children of Migrant Workers (European Communities, 1977) supported policies to improve the education of linguistic minorities. The most important government document on education of ethnic minority children in Britain is Education for All (Swan, 1985). In the final report, the committee commissioned studies, which reviewed research on pupils of South Asian origin (Taylor, 1985), Chinese origin (Taylor, 1987b), and Vietnamese, Cypriot, Italian, and Ukrainian origin, as well as Romanies and Liverpool Blacks (Taylor, 1987a). The debate over mother-tongue education in Britain has continued with intensity. The British government has clearly allied itself with the view that mother tongues are appropriate as school subjects only, and should not be supported as part of a commitment to a genuinely pluralist society in which linguistic diversity is maintained (Tollefson, 1991). By Presented diversity of MLTPs in the world, it is notified that the language education is a right. However, Cham MLTP is considered as a favor given by the government to serve their political aim rather than to accomplish the policy (can, 2005) and satisfy the Cham aspiration to preserve their culture and language. The establishing and crucial changes of Cham MLTP are for the sake of government not the Cham. I.e. Since 2002 the MLTP class time was switched from four periods a week to two periods a week without persuasive reason.
Another view of MLTP is its forms, in which strong or weak clearly revealed by the span of time that students learn the language. Strong from, which mother language was taught up to the last grade of high school is a rather popular strategy in language and education policies of various multicultural and multilingual nations. Examples of bilingual teaching in which minority languages are taught as a second school language up to the last grade of high school are abundant, as shown next. In Brunei, the Dwibahasa (two languages) school system operates through Malay (Bahasa Melayu) and English (Jones et al., 1993, Baetens, 1999). In Nigeria, bilingual education is present, particularly at the secondary school level, in English plus one of the national languages of Nigeria Hausa, Ibo or Yoruba (Afolayan, 1995). In Germany, German is paired with French, English, Spanish, and Dutch to create a ‘German model’ of European multicultural and bilingual education (Masch, 1994). In New Zealand, the Kohanga Reo (language nests) movement provides a grassroots from instituted immersion pre-school for the Maori people (May, 1996). In Singapore, English plus Mandarin, Malay or Tamil (The four officials of the country) create bilingual education (Pakir, 1994). Those practices confirmed that minority language programs should last up to the last grade of high school. It allowed the learners endorse the chance for full biliteracy (Schwinge, 2008). This extension of the mother language program may be appropriate examples for policy makers, teachers, and educators involved in MLTP in Vietnam.
5. Mother Language Education in the US
The Bilingual education, that is a plethora of existing typologies in various models for specific goals in theory and practice and always a controversy topic, appears in the US (May, 2008). In 1959, the National Defense and Educational Act was passed, promoting foreign language learning in elementary schools, high schools, and universities. It was the first federal legislation to promote foreign language learning. Later on, the Immigration Act of 1965, the Bilingual Education Act of 1968, (Crawford, 1999), the 1975 Lau Remedies (Ovando & Collier, 1998) were issued. And then, Native American Language Act of 1990 was passed by the US Federal and States government (Recento & Wright, 2008). Those marked the starting of a policy of promoting minority languages, which were implemented rather early in a multi-culture, multi-lingual and English native nation. The permanent “melting pot” idea, English “only”, used to be the mandatory language of over 500 different ethnic groups in America for nation’s unity goal then turned to English plus. Meaning some American realized that unity in diversity better than unity through English only. From this time, mother languages had the right to be taught in American schools and handed down to the younger generations. There have been various names, goals and models of mother language teaching programs in US, such as five main performances, transitional and developmental bilingual education, partial, two-way, and total immersion programs (Ovando, 2003).
After June 2001, No Child Left Behind passed. Bilingual Education Act was officially inactive, starting another “English only” cycle, English Language Learner (ELL) instead of Limited English Proficiency (LEP. Federal and more than 15 states stopped funding the bilingual education and transferred to the ELL programs. Fortunately, new term has currently been used for bilingual/immersion programs, which are considered as foreign language immersion programs offering for minority and even indigenous students in the U.S. (Lenker & Rhodes, 2007). They are able to serve well The National Security Language Initiative, which called for action in increasing the availability and quality of long-term foreign language programs to aid in global awareness, national security, and economic competitiveness of the U. S. (U.S. Department of Education, 2006). Even with these current policies limiting the use and learning of languages other than English in schools, there are, for the sake of reality –national security- currently 343 immersion programs in 27 states in the USA, providing instruction in 10 languages (Center for Applied Linguistics, 2009). Those above are irreversible tendencies and good examples for Cham program insiders to study and apply in their specific context.
6. Mother Language Education in Vietnam
Before 1975: Bilingual education was not paid much attention since the central and local government were occupied with other emergent problems of the wartime, the ideology war between the North communist and the South democratic. Even though there were many good directions in the field, the then bilingual education were implemented interruptedly, formally and just for teaching revolutionary songs in ethnic minority languages in guerilla bases such as, Raglai, Katu, Bru- Van Kieu and Ta-oi areas or in Northern border regions of Hmong, Tay, and Nung in Viet Bac and Tay Bac autonomous regions from 1956 to 1975 (Duiker, 2000). The songs were written in minority languages, which were transcribed in Latin scripts. This encouraged the then ethnic people who didn’t know much Vietnamese to unite in a fight for reunification of the nation. There is little information left on the minority language teaching in Viet Bac and Tay Bac autonomous regions from 1956 to 1975, Cham language teaching program in Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan (Pangduranga area) from 1954 to 1975 (Quang, 2005b).
After 1975: The real change happened visibly in the field right after the Directive 23-CT/TW on 11/15/1977 issued by the Secretary of the Central Communist Party Committee about the policies to southern ethnic minorities, and their languages. Based on the guideline of the decree, in 1978 the Cham Textbooks Compiling Committee (CTCC) in Ninh Thuan province was established by the local government. Some provinces in Mekong Delta also prepared the textbooks and teachers for Khmer language teaching program. The Council of Ministers’ directives require Khmer (1981) and Cham (1982) provinces to strictly follow the policy on teaching ethnic writing together with the national language. To fulfill this brand new task, the officials had to compile textbooks from grade 1 to grade 5, to train teachers, to set up experimental classes as models then extending in other schools. There were supervision system and update every year. Then the support from Ministry Of Education and Training (MOET) to teach ethnic minority writing, draws up curriculums, publishes teaching manuals and textbooks, trains teachers, and directs the plans and teaching methodology for different languages make the programs closer to the practical requirement.
Recently, some collaborative projects with foreign organizations in the field happened help bilingual education in Vietnam to develop at new level. In January 1996, a workshop was conducted with American experts and key teachers from four ethnic minority groups to produce bilingual curriculum materials and accompanying teacher education modules for using in the Multigrade and Bilingual Education Project. This workshop resulted in the production of bilingual, localized literacy materials in the form of Big Books in Bhanar, Khmer, Cham and Hmong as a kind of pilot experiment with the aim at developing an appropriate model for further expansion in the whole country where applicable . Also In 1996, MOET extended the Multigrade and Bilingual Education Project into “Minority Education Project”, with the cooperation of foreign experts from Australia, the sponsored from UNICEF (The Universal Primary Education for Ethnic Minority Children Project - a UNICEF project) and World Bank. This project set up 3 Centers for Compiling Minority Textbooks at 3 regions or wrote and rewrote textbooks for Khmer, Cham, Hmong, Ede, Jarai, and Bhanar and took experiment on new textbooks in 5 years. The project will be concluded in summer 2005.
In Vietnam, a few studies have addressed bilingual education in terms of second language acquisition and mother tongue maintenance. More specifically, the following four studies have been completed: the report of the Research Center for Ethnic Minority Education at the HEDO Seminar on March 28th 2000 (Bui & Dao, 2000); the description of the Multigrade and Bilingual Education Project in Vietnam (Donald, 1998-2003), an overview of Teacher Education Partnerships in Vietnam (Marilyn, 1996), and a discussion of Multilingual Education in the Community of Minority Peoples of Vietnam (The, 2003). While all these initiatives may be interpreted as establishing a promising trend for bilingual education in Vietnam, a closer look at them reveals that they do not support a strong form of bilingualism towards a plural and multilingual community. The MLTP for Cham students could be considered as what is in between the ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ forms of bilingual education aiming at assimilation and monolingualism. That is, even though the constitution and the government discourse has stated that “Ethnic minorities have the right to receive compulsory and free primary and lower-secondary education in their languages, use their own languages and scripts, maintain and develop their good traditions, practices, custom and culture” (Vietnam constitution, 1992; Circular 01, 1997), the real discourse for the accomplishment of said goal in terms of resources, time, and finances has persistently been insufficient to meet the requirement for the maintenance of mother language proficiency and has thus merely achieved the covert government aim of using this linguistic and cultural policy as a strategy to appease the discontent of the Cham people (conference on Champa 2007).
Ethnic issues in Vietnam has shown extremely sensitive, such as recent conflicts related to the Montagnard in the Central Highland of Vietnam asking for free religion and ownership of their ancestor land in 2001 and 2004, and the Hmong getting together in Muong Nhe district, Dien Bien province in 2011 making claims of religious freedom and established its own kingdom. (BBC, 2011). From the reality of Khmer and Cham language teaching programs, the implementation of the decree 23, 1977, MLTP has definite effect on the success of education of minority students, minority language revival. More than that the potential unstableness of current social and political issues of the areas was not only terminated but also facilitated the social development peacefully and sustainably. There has been no conflict happened between communities with local governments as in other minority areas without MLTP. Recognizing the crucial role of MLTP on the success of education of minority students and minority language maintenance, the important foundation for sustainable development of the nation. The priminister of Vietnam government has signed and passed the Decree 82/2010/ND-CP stipulating the teaching - learning of spoken and written languages of ethnic minorities in schools and continuing education centers.
Under this Decree, minority languages will be taught as a subject in schools when they meet all the following conditions: 1. Ethnic minority has aspirations and needs of learning and maintaining their own mother tongue; 2. The minority languages to be taught and learned in school are the traditional forms popularly used by the community, which have been approved by the specialized agencies or the determination letter by competent authorities; 3. Programs and textbooks in the minority language teaching are compiled and assessed under the provisions of the Minister of Education and Training; 4. Teachers of minority language subjects must be qualified by proper training, at a teacher training college, or a pedagogy university; 5. Facilities and teaching facilities in minority language subjects are prescribed by the Minister of Education and Training. On the form of teaching: the minority languages are taught as subjects in schools and continuing education centers. The completion of minority language programs is certified in accordance with the Minister of Education and Training. The decree also stipulates the fund for minority language programs, teachers and encouraging the minority students with the state provision of textbooks and reference books. This Decree took effect from the date 08.31.2010 and broadens the MLTP to about 30 minority languages that already had written forms and others in Vietnam. In school year 2008-2009, there were 10 minority languages taught in 646 schools, including 4,518 classes, with 105,638 students and 1,223 teachers (Vu, 2010). It is too early to say that with this powerful guideline, Vietnam can be one of the leading nations and the good models in teaching minority languages unless Vietnam consistently implements language policy and plan as stated in the decree 82 and other legal documents.
7. Typical Mother Language Programs in Southeast Asia
I will now focus on two bilingual education programs in Southeast Asian countries that have faced what I consider to be similar ethnical, social, and bilingual realities as those faced by the Cham MLTP and have grown to provide a linguistic program that is to the satisfaction of the people and its government. These programs are the Bilingual Education Program in Cambodia (Chap and Thomas, 2003) and The Mother Tongue Teaching Program in Singapore (Singapore Education, 2003).
7.1. Mother tongue teaching in Cambodia. The Cambodian government has made an effort for years to establish the Khmer language in schools in the highlands. However, minority people were failing to gain a good education in the mainstream government system, mostly because many of them tend not to be proficient in Khmer, the national language and medium of instruction. Over the years, this usually resulted in successive generations of minority people growing up illiterate and unable to speak Khmer, the national language of Cambodia. Prior to the bilingual non-formal education (NFE) pilot project, nearly all ethnic minority females and over 80% of the males were illiterate in Khmer and most children had never attended school. This dire situation was further complicated by the fact that vocational training offered by the government was instructed in Khmer and thus it was inaccessible to most minority speakers because of the language gap (Bounreung, 2002; MoEYS, 1999), so supplementing deficient childhood instructions from adults were not successful.
With the support and guidelines from the Constitution, the United Nations Declaration on Minority Rights was adopted by the UN General Assembly in its resolution 47/135 in 1992 (Pen, 2002). The Cambodian government endorsed this policy and established bilingual education in its educational system. Bilingual education was seen by the government as means to overcome the barrier faced by minorities to access education and training. The bilingual education pilot project uses two models of instruction so that students learn to read and write in both languages, minority and majority languages. One begins in the vernacular and progresses to Khmer. The other begins in Khmer then progresses to one of the minority languages. The Bilingual Pilot Project has been conducted in Ratanakiri, in the North East province of Cambodia, since 1998 and now includes a total of four languages. The project was extended in three provinces out of twenty four provinces that compose Cambodia with five languages out of twenty three languages spoken in Cambodia (Lewis, 2009): Tampuan, Brao, Krung, Kavet, and Bunong.
The Cambodian government plans to expand bilingual education to meet national goals and to bring Education for All (EFA); by 2015 all children will receive a high quality of education, (Bounreung, 2002). The bilingual education approach in Cambodia has demonstrated that using the vernacular along with the national language facilitates access to education and development, which in turn provides the potential to reduce poverty, strengthens human resources at the local level, and facilitates nation building (Chap et al., 2003). Though mother language program in Cambodia took place only in project and unofficial classes (Sun, 2009). I interpret the initial positive results to indicate that using mother language in formal instruction can be an effective bridge to help minorities succeed in mainstream education.
7.2. Mother tongue teaching in Singapore. Bilingual education in Singapore has been taking a very crucial role in the national unity and development of that country. The Singapore government has standing worries that Singapore, a tiny predominantly Chinese ethnic country with no natural resources and a dominant Islamic faith, may face significant challenges to sustain its national unity and socio-economic development. The ethnic and linguistic diversity of Singapore’s Chinese, Malay, and Indian population is also seen as a potentially explosive threat to its national survival, stability, and development (Singapore Education, 2003). However, bilingual policy, implemented in the form of English with Malay or Mandarin or Tamil, has served as sustainable foundation to develop the nation towards a pluralistic and tolerant society. English is seen as being “ethnic-neutral” and the language of the global economy, so Singapore has made English the pragmatic language of choice to be declared as the co-official language, for both political stability and economic success purposes (Ho & Alsagoff, 1998; Bokhorst-Heng, 1999). This has made the MTTP in Singapore unique in that it is the first country that has consistently used the MTTP approach as a general means of nation development.
Bilingual education in Singapore is implemented with English as a medium of instruction across the curriculum and first school language (EL1) with language lessons in second language school, Chinese (CL2), Malay (ML2), and Tamil (TL2) (Pakir, 2008). Mother tongue teaching has been one of the compulsory subjects taught in primary schools (for six years) since 1966, in secondary schools (for fours years) since 1969, and in Junior College/ Pre-University (for two years) afterward (Man-Fat, 2005). Based on students’ ethnicities, each student chooses Malay, Mandarin or Tamil as their mother tongue to learn in schools. This bilingual policy has truly contributed to the unique and distinct Singaporean identity. That is in the ways Singaporean people use their languages, their mother tongues and English. The policy has been regarded as the cornerstone of Singapore’s economic, political, and national successes (Pakir, 2008).
Underlying the government’s promotion of English for pragmatic purposes, Singapore’s other three official languages (Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil) are meanwhile assigned the functions of conveying culture and serving as a means of intra-ethnic communication. Singapore’s bilingual policy in education was instituted soon after independence in 1965 and has been in place for almost fifty years. While many changes have taken place in the education system, including policies, education structure and curriculum, this policy has remained largely unchanged in its essence to this day. To my view (and that of other researchers), that is the definition of bilingual success: attaining proficiency in English and in one’s ‘ethnic mother tongue’ (Pang, 2009).
8. Background of Cham MLTP in Ninh Thuan, and Binh Thuan Vietnam
8.1. The birth of Cham MLTP. Let us take a look at the historical context of the region to better understand the birth of the Cham MLTP. After the North’s victory over the South in the Vietnam War that ended in 1975, the Communist Party became the ruler of the unified Vietnam, which, of course, included the minorities in the Ninh Thuan – Binh Thuan areas. Before the occupation, these minorities enjoyed a cultural and social life that was unique and distinct from the prevailing culture and such semi-autonomous existence was recognized by the previous regime. However, with the ascendancy of the Communists, the minorities’ lives were turned upside down. Their institutions, which were based on their traditional beliefs and values, were rudely terminated and their lands and properties were confiscated (Po Dharma, 2007) and their own language was banned from being used in public and in schools (Huy, 2008). In essence, the imposition of a new communist model led to the displacement of the Cham traditional values in terms of their identity, culture and language and even their customary laws traditionally held by the Cham people were set aside.
During the initial years of occupation by the communist party, the Cham people were considered inferior human beings and they were viciously discriminated against compared to the other ethnic groups like the Kinh majority who were also under the jurisdiction of the new rulers. A substantial number of the Cham population responded to this discrimination, maltreatment and oppression by turning their back from the communist regime and supporting the Fulro Champa militias. Struggling for the liberation of oppressed races in Vietnam, the lure of Fulro Champa’s goals and objectives, exacerbated by the relentless oppression from the communists, had drove thousands of the youth to join the Fulro troops in their guerilla bases across the region from Ninh Thuan – Binh Thuan up to the Central Highlands of Vietnam in 1976. This mass enlistment was repeated in 1977.
Apparently, the government sensed the growing alienation of the ethnic minorities and had to device and strategy to woo back the populace. Among other programs, the government had established the Cham Mother Language Teaching Program together with its associated Cham Compiling Textbook Center (CCTC), which the government claimed that they were responses to the desires expressed by the communities. The first step was the recruitment of 26 Cham teachers for an experimental project to create the MLTP in 1978 (Trai, 2008b).
However, critics of the government had indicated that the establishment of the MLTP and the CCTC could be interpreted as a political strategy for the government to calm down Cham community-based resistance and to reduce the public support of the resistance. By attracting the support of the Cham people in conducting and managing the program, the government saw an opportunity to neutralize the crucial influence of the Fulro movement. Yet, the common reading of this government action of co-opting the Cham people’s acceptance and psychological support of the program is some kind of a pacification campaign instead of a genuine mother language development program for the Cham people which is the case in the other language programs for minorities and/or indigenous people throughout the world.
8.2. The Cham MLTP. The program started in 1978 in two experimental first grade classes in two elementary schools and covered and was extended to all grade levels in most elementary schools in 1985. In 1995 the program was extended to all elementary schools in the Cham Ninh Thuan province, and to some in the Binh Thuan province. The MLTP teachers have to follow a specific syllabus that is arranged in the Cham language textbook as stipulated by the CCTC, which uses the Cham traditional script, referred to as Akhar Thrah. In the current implementation of the MLTP, Cham is taught 2 to 4 periods a week from grades one to five. In this model, Cham is considered an optional subject that is added to the other 9 compulsory subjects taught in mainstream elementary schools. The official purpose of the MLTP program is for students to achieve literacy in the Cham language and improve their academic performance in all the mainstream subject areas. In the Ninh Thuan province, the program attendance has been persistently high, with the highest attendance rate during the school year of 2001-2002, when about 10,000 students and 300 teachers participated in the program. Using financial hardship as a reason the local government decided in the 2002-2003 academic years to cut class time from 4 periods per week to only 2 periods a week. As a result, now there are only 50 teachers in the program, a sixth of number of teachers it used to employ, and therefore the teacher to student ratio has exponentially decreased so that fewer teachers have to teach a much larger number of students. Consequently, the instruction suffered and students’ final score has visibly decreased in the last few years (Trai, 2008a).
8.3. The MLTP related issues. After more than 30 years of development of the MLTP, there is substantial controversy in the community about its value and effectiveness in terms of its success regarding Cham language revitalization and the academic performance improvement of the Cham students. For a long time, the only comments available concerning the program were made by parents, community members, and government officials through annually school year-end reports. Traditionally, there has been a very limited association between the program insiders and worldwide bilingual education and language immersion literatures. This changed in 2006, when a seminar on "History of Language and Cham script” took place in Malaysia. Since then, a few Cham researchers have focused their attention on the MLTP program. They have done their research on the program and arrived to generally negative conclusions about three syllables used in MLTP textbooks (Dharma, 2006).
Let me elaborate on this last point. In 2006, Dharma stated that the writing system of traditional AT was arbitrarily converted from the final sound “kak” to “gak”; the model was changed from “chrauhaw with dartha” to “chrauhaw only”; and added “baluw” for long vowels. Cham researchers have noted the arbitrary changes to the ending syllables noted above have caused MLTP learners to be unable to read their ancestral heritage manuscript copies (Dharma, 2006; Phan, 2008). To protest the MLTP phonics principle- one symbol has only one correspondent sound- Dharma and his colleagues sent an official letter to the government to request that the Cham Compiling Textbooks Center (CCTC) revert their texts to the old writing system. In response to such request, the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training held a conference in Phanrang City (Ninh Thuan province) last February 2007, to conduct a referendum about whether the old syllabic system should be reinstated by the CCTC and MLTP. The attendees concluded that the current writing system seemed to be acceptable as the status quo but that more research was needed to see if any adjustments are truly necessary. Though MLTP has successfully been welcomed by the community, as demonstrated by its persistently high attendance , its quality and existence was challenged by this perceived lack of attention to the traditional system and the apparent lack of efficacy of the program in terms of enhancing student proficiency in the Cham language.
The limited objective information about the program and the contradictory comments from the various program stakeholders has put the MLTP on the horns of a dilemma. To enhance the MLTP, the program management units not only need to examine the accomplishment of its goals in terms of language revitalization and support of student’s performance in the mainstream academic subjects, but also to address the following linguistics questions. First, what syllable structures should be covered by the textbooks and taught in the program? Should it be the modern syllable structure that has been standardized and used in current educational textbooks and programs and daily life in the Pangduranga area for more than thirty years, or should it be the ancient syllable structure that was used in the royal Pangduranga two hundred years ago and is used in some crucial ancient texts? Second, what is the reason why students cannot read their ancestral manuscripts? Is it because of the different-looking hand writing styles of their ancestors or because of their familiarity with standardized syllables and lack of familiarity with ancient syllabic styles? And, third, what is the role of the writing system – orthographic or non-orthographic- in improving student learning in mother language subject and other subjects in mainstream classes?
9. Linguistic Program models applicable to Cham program
MLTPs have been implemented in many multilingual nations of the world using varied models and names but having the same goals; mainly, to improve the academic achievement of minority students and revitalize the mother language(s) (Baker, 2006). The success of the program includes non-cognitive outcomes such as, self-esteem, language pride, moral development, school attendance, social and political development, integration into society and gaining employment (Baker, 1998). The mentioned all above of bilingual education in Asia and in the world, is a brief review of diverse linguistic programs that are highly related to the goals of the MLTP program that has been implemented in Vietnam. My aim in reviewing these programs is to extract the applicable lessons for Cham language program as following:
Cham language program is a strong form theoretical and practical. The current limit of classtime and span of the program are not enough to build Cham literacy and proficiency as respected. Two periods weekly until fifth grade as it was is too little or all school hour as in language immersion program in the U.S. is too much for its real function in communication. Two to five periods a week and span from beginning of school grade to the end of high school is the better option for the Cham language program. Especially, at elementary level, textbooks were designed for four period structures; therefore classtime must be four periods weekly.
Each Cham teacher had better teach only his or her own MLTP class at elementary schools. The numbers of Cham teachers in some schools are very small limited in sharing teaching knowledge and experience for supporting effective bilingual classes and effective bilingual schools. As mentioned above, since 2001, by excused of the financial reason, the classtime of Cham language classes were cut short into 2 period a week and the Cham teachers had to teach more than their own classes (Trai, 2008a). This discouraged the competition and interchange of teaching knowledge and experience among teachers, which are important to build a strong MLTP staff in an effective bilingual school, the central role of success of MLTP. It is difficult to advance the effectiveness of bilingual education with very limited financial and material resources.
Moreover, book for reference and reading, teacher training, and official status for Cham language are needed. The time that students contact with Cham language is too small, only two 35 minutes a week for Cham language acquisition process, while majority language overwhelming. They need more time for extra assignment and reading in Cham language. In reality, there are only five big picture books, and about ten extra reading books for five-years of elementary level (Trai, 2008a). Extra reading books, news papers and magazines in Cham are necessary for students and non-students to practice their language skills and to maintain the Cham educational achievement. Some Cham teachers took only short training class before serving class (personal communication, 2011). Though in decree 82 training teachers is clearly stipulated, there are few no official trained teachers teaching mother language classes in reality. This needs urgent adjustment. Though there is no document to reveal the official status of the Cham language, it was taught in the schools, used in mass media, and public. The minority are happily feeling that their language and their identity are recognized and respected.
Cham language use in community, family and home should be promoted and encouraged. Cham corresponding among Cham people nowadays usually in Vietnamese needs to reverse to Cham, because this lead to less proficiency in written Cham language in the community. The revitalization of the Cham language cannot occur solely through the schools, but as the result of the mutual reinforcement of the efforts of schools, families and the community. This is also considered as the four level of effectiveness of bilingual education, beyond school environment (Baker, 1998).
Cham language should be used in other necessary supported institutions such as in mass media, the Internet, and other modern forms of communication. In the Internet era, the most powerful of communicative forms to spread the information to largest receivers at a shortest time, if the Cham leaders and teachers can exploit these forms to spread their language and culture, their traditional value have more chance to live longer and develop with the modern world.
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