The Fourth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF4)
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Jane Kanas

Perfecting 1 amongst 109: English in multilingual Vanuatu

Jane Kanas
Distance and Flexible Learning Support Centre, The University of the South Pacific

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     Last modified: August 15, 2006
     Presentation date: 10/31/2006 2:15 PM in ST Windsor B
     (View Schedule)

Of the 180 indigenous languages spoken by 12 University of the South Pacific (USP) member states, Vanuatu carries 106 of these languages as well as the official English, French and the national Bislama (Pidgin) languages. English and French are the languages of education and government, while Bislama and any of the indigenous ones are used in everyday communication. With English (or French), confined to classrooms and government, using it as a language of instruction and learning poses some interesting outcomes amongst Vanuatu students for a tertiary provider of education as USP.

Multilingualism provides illusions of deformity and fragmentation. This paper focuses on situations of multilingualism as experienced by distance students in Vanuatu especially having attempted or completed one or both of the compulsory English courses offered at the pre-degree and degree levels. Results from these two courses indicate that Ni Vanuatu students actually fare averagely and sometimes better than students of other mono-cultural/linguistic backgrounds. It stands then, that because diversity is normality and that a pidgin is the lingua franca (not English nor French nor a vernacular), the unique multilingual community that Vanuatu DFL students originate from, actually provide a somewhat solid background to their learning and acquisition of English.

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