The Intersection of Policy and Practice: Two Cases of English Language Programs in Southeast Asian Law Enforcement Academies


The emergence of English as a lingua franca in Southeast Asia has meant that government officials are increasingly required to use English. Law enforcement officers are no exception; police interact with international tourists, communicate across borders, attend international conferences, and participate in deployments overseas. The practical need for English is accompanied by national policies prioritizing English instruction across educational and governmental institutions. As a result, law enforcement academies increasingly prioritize English language programs to support the English proficiency of their cadets. This article describes case studies of English language programs at two law enforcement academies in Vietnam and Indonesia. Data was originally collected and analyzed as separate needs assessment evaluations designed for each institution. Findings were later compared and reinterpreted through a language policy and planning lens. Common to both cases was the demand to prepare cadets for the dual challenge of conducting specific police duties in English and of achieving high scores on academic English exams. Recommendations are provided for policymakers, practitioners, and researchers in the field of Language for Specific Purposes.