Gary M. Jones Bilingual Education and Syllabus Design: Towards a Workable Blueprint
BR U N E I D A R U S S A L A M (henceforth Brunei) has a bilingual education system inwhich two languages, Bahasa Melayu and English, are used. As this paper will suggest, however, the two languages should not be regarded as independent variables or in any way as competing with one another, but as being highly inter-dependent and complementary. In Brunei, the final school leaving examination (the GCE ‘O’ level) has determined the syllabuses of the individual school subjects, with the result that subject syllabuses have been planned in isolation and then joined to create the school curriculum. In a bilingual system, such subject-centred planning makes little provision for the development of two languages as interlocking variables. Language development is considered in much the same way as any other ‘subject’: in isolation rather than as complementing other subjects and playing a key role in the child’s overall cognitive as well as educational development.As I hope this paper will demonstrate, syllabus design should play a crucial role in a bilingual education system and careful consideration must be given to the timing and introduction of the various school subjects and their allotted language medium.