De facto language education policy through teachers' attitudes and practices: A critical ethnographic study in three Jamaican schools

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Abstract

Using Jamaica, a former British colony where Jamaican Creole (JC) is the mass vernacular but Standard Jamaican English is the official language, as an illustrative case, this critical ethnographic study in three Jamaican schools examines the theoretical and practical challenges of language education policy (LEP) development and implementation in English-lexified Creole contexts where official recognition of the mass vernacular is absent and politically contentious; standard language ideology is pervasive; language boundaries are blurred; linguistic self-identification does not match actual language use; and language attitudes are deeply entrenched and contradictory. Data were collected and analyzed through classroom observations of six teachers over 9 months, interviews, demographic questionnaires, and curricular documents. Findings reveal conflicting teacher attitudes towards JC, and classroom practices heavily influenced by national examinations, that created a de facto LEP. Teachers simultaneously resisted and appropriated dominant linguicist ideologies in a Creole-speaking environment in response to actual vernacular language use in classrooms, adding a more complicated agentive dimension to Shohamy's (Language policy: hidden agenda and new approaches. Routledge, New York, 2006) framework linking ideologies to LEP through institutional structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-242
Number of pages22
JournalLanguage Policy
Volume13
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2014

Keywords

  • Attitudes
  • Creole
  • De facto language education policy
  • Jamaica

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language

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