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Volume 1 Number 2, Autumn 2004, Pages 1-171   

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Language Policies in Asian Countries: Issues and Tensions

    Amy B. M. Tsui

Many Asian countries are multilingual and multi-ethnic and have gained political and economic independence only in the last half of a century or so ago. They have the common goals of nation building, full integration with the global economy and full participation in international politics. Therefore, when formulating language policies, these countries have been confronted with similar issues though they have responded to their specific sociopolitical contexts in different ways. This paper outlines some of the major issues. One is the continued domination of English after gaining political and economic independence resulting from a complex interplay of endogenous as well as exogenous factors. The endogenous factors pertain to the need to balance the interests of social and political groups within the country whereas the exogenous factors pertain to globalization and the use of English as the lingua franca. Another major issue is the asymmetrical power relationship between those who have access to English and those who have not, both intra-nationally and internationally. The third major issue is the tension between cultural assimilation brought about by the domination of English and the preservation of national and ethnocultural identity.