The Discursive Construction of a Nation: Identities and Ideologies in Taiwan’s Bilingual Policy


Though English is widely hailed as the global lingua franca, critical applied linguists (e.g. Blocks, 2018; Kubota 2011, 2013; Piller & Cho, 2015; Ricento 2015; Tollefson, 2013) have scrutinized the promised affordances of English and urged the examination of English language policies especially in non-English-dominant countries to parse out the links between policies and ideologies, historical-political contexts, and, ultimately, (national) identities. As an effort to explore such links, the present study examines the discursive construction of Taiwan’s envisioned identity as a Mandarin–English bilingual nation, encapsulated in its recent Bilingual 2030 policy. Through the lens of imagined community (Anderson, 1991; Kanno & Norton, 2003; Norton & Pavlenko, 2019), this paper analyzes the blueprint for the policy to pinpoint the kinds of (international) ties the Taiwanese government is trying to forge for the nation and the role English plays in this top-down imagination. The findings highlight the dominance of English in the policy and show how these imagined national identities and bilingual strategies are constructed largely in relation to English as the language of the global economy. The analysis further identifies three prevalent discourses that help frame this top-down imagination, particularly the urgency for Taiwan to be English-proficient. Based on the findings, the paper warns against taking the value of English for granted, urges policy makers to take a critical and practical stance on the promotion of English, and provides directions for future research in language policies in Asian regions amidst the local and global flows of English.

Author Information
Yujung Chang, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2022
Stream: Educational policy

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon