Language in a dependent society : Belize, Central America
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In Belize the medium of instruction in schools is English, despite the fact that the pupils do not speak English as their first language. Some Spanish-speakers would like to see Spanish used as a medium of instruction in schools too. Other Spanish- speakers think this would lessen their chances in national and international socioeconomic and political circumstances where English is the dominant language. The evaluation of language use in schools is just one aspect of a multitude of attitudes Belizeans have about language in their lives. These language attitudes are an expression of Belizean responses to the socioeconomic dynamic in Belizean society. Their attitudes are determined by sociocultural, socioeconomic and political allegiances. There is some conflict between those whose stake is in the status quo in Belize, whereby it is economically dependent on its historic links with the United States, the Commonwealth, the United Kingdom and the European Economic Community, and those Spanish speakers, who have prospered from the production of sugar-cane and come to vie with the Creoles for socioeconomic predominance, who feel that their interests would be better served by developing economic and cultural links with Latin American countries. This more or less overt tension in Belizean society means that there is no recognition of an emergent Belizean identity which brings together Creole and Hispanic cultural manifestations and has Belizean Creole as its linguistic expression. The strengths of the languages involved lie in the economic base and potential of the respective speakers. Whatever the outcome of these forces Belizeans would benefit from positively acknowledging the linguistic diversity in their nation and fostering their achievements in two or more languages, as this linguistic flexibility could be one of their main resources in responding to the developments in their geopolitical and economic situation.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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