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Language and social class: Linguistic capital in Singapore

2008-03, Vaish, Viniti, Tan, Teck Kiang

This paper analyzes the relationship between ethnic group, language use and social class in Singapore in light of implications for performance in the national school system. Using a Bourdieusian theoretical framework we argue that though Singapore equitably distributes the linguistic capital of English through its bilingual language in education policy, children from low income homes are disadvantaged. For the Chinese and Malay ethnic groups there is a correlation between dominant home language and social class though this is not the case for the Indians. Correspondence analysis shows that SES is correlated to English test scores. Multilevel analysis shows that SES is related to aspects of linguistic capital like language choice in reading, watching TV, choosing types of friends and learning about religion. Data for these claims come from The Sociolinguistic Survey of Singapore 2006 (SSS 2006).

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Building English competencies in bilingual underachievers: A baseline study of Singapore's learning support program

2011, Vaish, Viniti, Tripathi, Shilpi

"This project is a baseline study of Singapore's Learning Program (LSP) which is an intervention program in primary schools with the main objective of helping students who do not have adequate competencies in English language and literacy to cope with the mainstream curriculum. The LSP is comparable to the other compensatory programs in the USA such as Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE), two way bilingual educations (TWBE), pull out ESL programs and the funds of knowledge intervention program in the UK. All these compensatory programs have a leveling up a goal in which they try to bring underachievers to the same level of their mainstream peers. The broad objectives of the project are to document what goes on in the LSP, how the Learning Support Co-ordinator teaches, who is sent in, who is sent out and what Learning Support Co-ordinators believe about bilingualism."--executive summary.

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Language loss and nationhood: Examining language shift among the Chinese community in Singapore and its implications for Singapore

2018, Lim, Natalie Li Ling, Vaish, Viniti

Singapore’s logistic situation has attracted widespread scholarly attention due to the language policies implemented since independence. With English traditionally receiving much of the focus, there appeared to be less interest in language maintenance and shift of other official languages of Singapore. Henceforth, this paper aims to examine language shift among the Chinese community in Singapore and its implications for Singapore which have yet to be further explored in past studies. In this study, three members from a multi-generation Chinese Singaporean family (aged 22 to 84) were interviewed. Participants involved were required to indicate their language preferences across five different domains: family, friends, school/workplace, public space and media. The results indicated a gradual shift in linguistic preferences over generations, especially evident in some domains, but that there is also language maintenance for Chinese dialects in others. Overall, there are clear negative implications for the future of Chinese dialects locally.

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Bilingualism, literacy and reading achievement

2014, O'Brien, Beth A., Yin, Bin, Li, Li, Zhang, Dongbo, Chin, Chern Far, Zhao, Shouhui, Vaish, Viniti

Bilingualism is becoming more common worldwide, and it remains a central educational policy in Singapore. In this document, we review research related to bilingualism and literacy development and achievement. Following an ecological framework, we outline known factors contributing to literacy achievement and discuss findings from bilingual research regarding these factors. We conclude with recommendations for educational practice informed by the research literature.

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Student engagement in reading

2016, Vaish, Viniti

This paper explores student engagement and interactional patterns in young learners in a reading programme for low-track students on the basis of 19 h of video data collected from five schools. I show evidence of student engagement on the basis of bidding, eye contact, student talk and behaviour displaying excitement. The data show moderate student engagement across all five schools with few instances of high engagement and fewer instances of low student engagement. There is lack of variety in interactional patterns in episodes with low student engagement. The interactional patterns in episodes of high student engagement are Reading and Whole Class Elicitation, Whole Class Elicitation, Whole Class Role Play, Whole Class Activity and Individual Activity. In 40% of the episodes with high student engagement, teachers masterfully use Whole Class Elicitation. In episodes that show behaviour displaying excitement, the teachers engage students in role play, writing activities or other types of kinaesthetic learning. On the basis of these findings, I suggest implications for pedagogy in reading classrooms for young learners.

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Globalization and multilingualism in Singapore: Implications for a hybrid identity

2006-04, Vaish, Viniti

This essay is about language and unique forms of identity in Singapore resulting from globalization. Specifically it looks at language use amongst the Indians in Singapore in the domains of religion and public space. Identified as one of the most globalized nations in the world, Singapore is concerned about the erosion of mother tongue languages and the consequent demise of Asian Values. Through the preliminary findings of a large scale language survey and smaller scale follow up studies, this essay shows a heteroglossic use of languages and a concomitant hybrid identity which is the mark of being Singaporean. The essay also emphasizes that a unidimensional view of language and globalization, which only looks at globalization as a form of McDonaldization, is not in keeping with actual patterns of language use.

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Whole language versus code-based skills and interactional patterns in Singapore’s early literacy program

2014, Vaish, Viniti

This paper analyzes whole language and code-based skills approaches in early literacy and the specific patterns of interaction present in both approaches. Nine- teen hours of video data were coded to analyze the nature of whole language versus code-based skills instruction and document the allocation of time spent on each approach in a reading program. Data come from a cross-sectional study in Singapore where the Learning Support Program (LSP), a reading program for low-track students, was studied in five schools. Overall, 73% of class time in the dataset showed code-based skills instruction. However, the approach to instruction changed within the LSP in a linear fashion. Though in the early years of the LSP there was an over-emphasis on code-based skills and lack of variety in pat- terns of interaction, in later years there was a balance between whole language and code-based skills and a wider variety of interactional patterns.

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An introduction to the sociolinguistic survey of Singapore

2005-11, Vaish, Viniti, Norhaida Aman, Bokhorst-Heng, W. D. (Wendy Diana)

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Translanguaging in a reading class

2015, Vaish, Viniti, Mohamed Aidil Subhan Mohamed Sulor

Using translanguaging as a theoretical foundation, this paper analyses findings from a Grade 2 reading class for low achieving students, where Malay was used as a scaffold to teach English. Data come from one class in one school in Singapore and its Learning Support Programme (LSP), which is part of a larger research project on biliteracy. The LSP is an early intervention reading programme in English for students in lower primary school. Our key finding is that the broad goal of translanguaging in teacher talk was to mediate academic content. Specifically, the purposes for translanguaging in teacher talk were to aid comprehension (in 41% of switches) and translate vocabulary (in 39% of switches). The use of Malay changed interactional patterns by closing the gap in talktime between teacher and students: though the ratio of talktime between teacher and students on Day 1 was 76%:20%, this became a more democratic 47%:49% on Day 8. Finally, the scaffold of Malay changed the way the students attempted to answer questions.

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Bilingual children’s perceived family language policy and its contribution to leisure reading

2023, Sun, Baoqi, Loh, Chin Ee, Mukhlis Abu Bakar, Vaish, Viniti

This study investigated and compared family language policies (FLPs) from the perspectives of two groups of Singaporean bilingual children: 2,971 English-Chinese and 780 English-Malay children (aged 9–11 years). It also examined how different FLP components – namely, language beliefs, practices, and management – influenced their leisure reading enjoyment and reading amount. We found that although both groups of children attached equal importance to their two languages, their language practices tilted towards their stronger language, English. Both groups of children also reported different patterns of language management efforts at home. Regression analyses revealed differential effects of language beliefs, practices, and management on reading enjoyment and amount in the children’s two languages. For both groups and all languages, language beliefs explained the least amount of variance in reading enjoyment and amount compared to language practices and management. For English, language management accounted for more variance than language practices, whereas for the children’s weaker language (i.e., their ethnic language), both language management and language practices were significant predictors. Results emphasize the critical role of FLP in maintaining children’s ethnic languages. Therefore, it is imperative for parents, educators, and policymakers to identify and implement strategies to bolster language management and practices within the home and school environments.