Had you asked me what I have got today, my answer would be “the money thing.” Yes, Language and money. I have been pondering over the relationship between language policy and economic growth. I am a bit doubtful whether the policymakers can relate correctly the two. I will walk you through this problematic issue and a hint or sample policy evaluation is forthcoming for PhD students who might want to judge existing policymakers’ competence. Stay on this post and read it until the end. Science is shared if one fully listens to their interactants.
To journey with you on this topic, I have just got a question for you: “Are able to relate/associate language policy making with economic growth?” Sound weird, does it? Yes! Before it sounded like there was not bond between the two for me too. But when I found out what it is all about, I just asked myself a series of questions including the following:
- To which level do language policy-makers associate policy making in that domain with economic growth it might have in their respective countries?
- which category does the language policy-makers’ policy making ability fall?
- What do the language policy-makers recommend to their respective governments for the language policies to be well-made and by knowledgeable persons in that domain
- How is language policy making associated with the economic growth in a given country?
Policy: What is it?
It is a device that leads about the choice of action that directly regulates the management of the people’s interests. It is a resolution of principles to direct the way of acting that is made in a planned and consistent manner to achieve certain goals, (Suharto, 2006a). If you want it more elaborately, policy is just a government or institutional plan of how to achieve certain goal. The government that has no policy cannot distribute well the human resources, the financial shares or natural resources equitably to the people which put it there.
The notion of public policy
The public policy is like the function of the brain to the body. The public policy is seen as the starting point in operations of programs or activities that are done by the government, communities or the private sector. Mulyadi (2015) argues that the public policy can be viewed as a continuous and related process by which the government, together with other stakeholders regulate, analyze, and manage some public affairs and human resources in order to attain a given goal. This insinuates the idea that without public policy, the government can serve the population or even solve any problem daunting the population.
Usefulness of language policy making
Language policy is somehow the policy about a country’s identity. On the top of that, it is also associated with economic growth, (Hanushek, 2013; Glaeser, 2004). Which means that making a language policy is a means by which the political leaders socially (re)distribute and (re)construct dues to societymen and women, (Tsui &Tollefson;, 2004). A language policy can also sway friendship among countries, with the potential of being sources of political, ethno-linguistic, and social conﬂicts, (Laitin, 2000).
Language policy making becomes a tool with which the government or persons in authority achieve or are guided in the decisions made to achieve identity. A power policy about language of school results in some sort of imbalance and many linguistic related conflicts may arise if there is a consequent issue that denies some group’s rights rooting into language policy.
Linking language policy and economic growth
There are a series of studies that dealt with associating the language policy with its return on economic growth. The variables considered in many of the cases were not found significant statistically because there were some errors in their determination. But the use of a range of language variable components made the variables to be statistically significant. For example, Hillman (2016) has a catchy and tremendous study about this link. On the one hand, English language variable via English language education policy was formulated and he used the following sub-components:
- Mean years of schooling;
- Teacher Training;
- Elementary Class Size;
- Secondary Class Size;
- Teaching Methodology
- Curriculum Content
As far as the Economic variable was concerned, on the other hand, he used data about “Gross Domestic Product of Purchasing Power Parity (GDP PPP)” for 2014. The results were that the level of significance was achieved.
It should be noted that The World Bank explanation (2014) of GDP per capita is that:
GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity (PPP). PPP GDP is gross domestic product converted to international dollars using purchasing power parity rates. An international dollar has the same purchasing power over GDP as the U.S. dollar has in the United States. GDP at purchaser’s prices is the sum of gross value added by all resident producers in the economy plus any product taxes and minus any subsidies not included in the value of the products.
With the definition of GDP per capita, one can best grasp the role of languages in the economic growth and development clearly. “The greater the proportion of the population that speaks that language of instruction in schooling, lower the cost and higher the level of human capital in society”, (Laitin & Ramachandran, 2014, p. 2). The positive relationship between language and economic growth lies not only in the rising importance of the economics of language in the context of economic globalization, but also in the new point of view that it brings to both economics and linguistics.
That’s it. There is strong bond between language management/policy and economic growth. The role of language is understood through linking it to a number of people speaking it. The higher the number of a language speakers, the higher the level of human capital. A language plays a role in economic globalization and it makes linguistics a real science. If one take English language for example, it’s creating a sort of economics around it. This is understood if one has got some competence to understand it. The question remains whether our language policymakers full understand this relationship. If they do, why language education is so neglected?
On this site, there is also a full sample of a PhD proposal evaluating the language policymakers’ competence in associating language policy making and economic growth in our respective country