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Foreign language in African science classrooms: Perspectives on and approaches to language use during teaching

This paper was presented at the Distance Education and Teacher's Training in Africa (DETA) 2011 Conference, in August 2011, Mozambique. In spite of UNESCO’s assertion that educating learners in a language that they understand best is a tenet of good practice (UNESCO, 2007), Africa remains the only continent in the world where formal education is generally conducted in instructional languages that are foreign to most learners and their teachers. The continent has in this regard been balkanised into Anglophone, Francophone and Luzophone states, to refer to the European (former colonial) languages, English, French and Portuguese respectively. In the special case of Tanzania, the balkanisation may be referred to as a ‘Swahiliphone’, for the special reason that Swahili, the mandatory language of primary school education but - though unofficially - also used widely in secondary and higher education, is neither a local language nor the first one to all students and their teachers. Swahili is therefore also a foreign language to most students and teachers in Tanzania; it however is an African language. A common argument has been that all the foreign languages of European origin were retained at independence as the official as well as classroom instruction languages for economic and political reasons. It is also an acceptable argument that the retention of the languages must have been dictated by circumstances that were prevailing at the time in respective African countries.

Author:
Samuel Ouma Oyoo
URL:
URL
Conference:
Distance Education and Teacher Education in Africa DETA Conference 2011
Date:
2011
Foreign languages    formal education    Mathematics Education    science classrooms    Teachers   

 
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