Approaching micro-level planning from an intelligibility perspective: a case study from Pentecost Island, Vanuatu

Cindy Schneider, Charlotte Gooskens

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)
    28 Downloads (Pure)


    The Vanuatu government has recently implemented a policy of vernacular literacy. Children are now to receive the first three years of schooling in a vernacular language. Needless to say, in a country with less than 300,000 people [Vanuatu National Statistics Office 2016 Accessed January 4, 2016.] and more than 100 indigenous languages, some classrooms have more than one L1. In such cases, the language policy recommends that the variety with the most native speakers should be promoted. This is a good solution for those speakers of the larger language, but what impact does such a policy have on the children whose L1 is not included in the curriculum, and who are instructed in a vernacular language that is not their own? To answer this question, we conducted intelligibility tests across closely related varieties of northern and central Vanuatu. We conclude that in villages where children already receive a good deal of exposure to other language varieties in their daily lives, implementation of the government’s language policy is a viable option. However, we make this point with the caveat that what is practical and beneficial for literacy education is not necessarily optimal for the preservation of small endangered language varieties.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)530-544
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
    Issue number6
    Early online date2-Aug-2016
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Cite this