Rethinking Bilingual Education in Postcolonial Contexts Author: Feliciano Chimbutane

Hardback - 200 pages
Related Formats:
18 May 2011
Bilingual Education & Bilingualism
Multilingual Matters
210 x 148


This book calls for critical adaptations when theories of bilingual education, based on practices in the North, are applied to the countries of the global South. For example, it challenges the assumption that transitional models necessarily lead to language shift and cultural assimilation. Taking an ethnographically-based narrative on the purpose and value of bilingual education in Mozambique as a starting point, it shows how, in certain contexts, even a transitional model may strengthen the vitality of local languages and associated cultures, instead of weakening them. The analysis is based on the view that communicative practices in the classroom influence and are influenced by institutional, local and societal processes. Within this framework, the book shows how education in low-status languages can play a role in social and cultural transformation, especially where post-colonial contexts are concerned.


This volume presents a landmark study of bilingual education policy and local practice in a new context. It offers a fresh and thought-provoking African perspective on the value and purpose of bilingual education, foregrounding its transformative potential. Chimbutane’s arguments are grounded in detailed, multilayered research of an innovative sociolinguistic and ethnographic nature. The volume represents a significant new intellectual resource for all of us who are concerned with education in multilingual settings in the global south.

- Marilyn Martin-Jones, Emeritus Professor, MOSAIC Centre for Research on Multilingualism, University of Birmingham, UK

Chimbutane’s delicately balanced and wonderfully accessible volume is a delight to read. The author speaks from the vantage point of a well-positioned postcolonial scholar, and this excellently crafted, well-written and admirably researched piece whets ones appetite for more of the same from the linguistic periphery.

- Christopher Stroud, Department of Linguistics, University of the Western Cape

Chimbutane makes a valuable contribution not only to understanding the situation of African languages (AL) but also to ethnographic studies of bilingualism that conceive of a language as social practice...Chimbutane's greatest success is demonstrating the social, political and educational importance of ALs as a mean of instruction and not just as a curricular theme. Chimbutane helps us confirm that the omission of ALs in school reinforces certain postcolonial practices and, therefore, reduces the agency and learning of students. The book itself is a political and research statement showing both what has not yet managed to get into Mozambique BE and also the gradual change that has been generated around ideologies and language policies in favor of AL.

- Lorena Cordova, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, Mexico City on the LINGUIST List 23.1774

Author Biography:

Feliciano Chimbutane is Assistant Professor in Linguistics at Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique. His research interests concern languages in education, with special reference to bilingual education. His focus is on policy, classroom practice, and the relationship between classroom discourse, day-to-day talk and the wider social and political order.

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional

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