Towards a critical pedagogy of english oracy education in Singapore

Year: 2012

Author: Liew, Warren

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Tensions between the “global” and “local” imperatives of literacy education have animated ongoing debates concerning the place of World Englishes in the English classroom. Drawing on interviews, curriculum artifacts, and participant-observation notes from a teacher-led study, this paper examines the social, cultural, and pedagogical value of Colloquial Singapore English (better known as “Singlish”) in the everyday oracy practices of students and teachers in a Singapore secondary school. Findings point to the salience of teachers' and students' beliefs in explaining the enduring uses of CSE within and beyond formal educational settings. Attentive to the “wordliness” of English as a language of national and international investments, this paper describes and evaluates two pedagogical responses in the context of a critical applied linguistics. The first can be read as an instrumentalist effort to accommodate the formal study of CSE within the language ideologies of the Singapore government. The second gestures toward a critical oracy pedagogy through which students and teachers work dialogically to critique, if not challenge, the state's monologic valorization of Standard English in the formal curriculum.