An Exploratory Study of Attitudes toward Bilingual Education in Gia Lai province of Vietnam

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Doctor of Philosophy in Education
Title An Exploratory Study of Attitudes toward Bilingual Education in Gia Lai province of Vietnam
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
This case study examines the attitudes of Jarainese people (an indigenous group in Gia
Lai province of Vietnam) towards bilingual education related to bilingualism, the
maintenance of the native language, its use in their own communities, and its perceived
importance within formal schooling. The research employed a combination of
quantitative and qualitative methods by which the data were collected. Quantitative data
were obtained via 345 questionnaires administered to Jarainese students (N=173) and
their grandparents and parents (N=172). Qualitative data were obtained via individual
interviews of 13 parents and 5 focus group interviews with students. The qualitative
data analyses were reported in three narratives as examples of the views of parents, and
as thematic interpretations of the student focus groups.
The findings reported in this thesis revealed the high degree of ethnic and cultural
identity reported through the attitudes of the Jarainese people towards the use of the
mother tongue and its maintenance. Jarainese people use their mother tongue to
consolidate their ethnic and cultural identity and solidarity. However, the results
revealed that Jarainese children tend to use more Vietnamese in their daily life whereas
their parents and grandparents retain their oral native language. Additionally, there was
a low level of self-reported literacy in Jarainese across the individuals surveyed.
The findings disclosed that both languages are seen as important by the Jarainese
people. They indicate that Jarainese people do not reject Vietnamese, because it is
considered as a language of educational, social and economic advantages and
advancement; however, they show the desire of the Jarainese people to affirm their
cultural identity by retaining their native language. Despite this desire, the results
demonstrated how impacts from the social milieu such as mass media, education and
national dominance of Vietnamese hinder the maintenance of Jarainese.
The findings confirm the results of other research in the field concerning the benefits
and challenges of promoting bilingual development and preserving the native language.
The results also confirm a link between demographic dimensions such as level of
education, occupation, and living areas, and language attitudes. Furthermore, parents’
attitudes seem to influence their children’s perspectives toward bilingualism.
In conclusion, this case study provides further evidence for the importance of values
and knowledge related to bilingualism, as well as the need for bilingual development.
This evidence is taken from a relatively unique context of the study: i.e., the communist
context of Vietnam and under-studied indigenous minority groups in this area of the
world. Hence, implications of the findings for bilingual education and regional language
policy consideration are discussed. It recommends that the Vietnamese Government and
education sector should pay greater attention to, and provide more support for, Jarainese
people’s struggles to provide Jarainese children with minority language education. In
addition, it is important to specify that a bilingual education program and a regional
language policy should be considered and implemented in order to create environments
in which Jarainese – Vietnamese bilingual children can develop and promote their
bilingual proficiency and knowledge of bilingualism.

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