English… really?

The school is English medium, which means everything is taught in English. Yet Swahili is Tanzania’s official language. English is both the teachers’ and students’ second, if not third language. On one hand I think it’s great that kids are exposed to English (or any foreign language for that matter) at such a young age. On the other hand, the teachers are very limited in English themselves (I have sat in on lessons; sometimes they make big mistakes and are unsure about what they’re talking about) and I can’t help but wonder if they’re not doing the kids a huge disservice by not teaching other subjects in their native language. I can not imagine sitting in school and learning about something like photosynthesis in a foreign language. I think I would have received a very watered down version.

2 Comments

Leah Plotz Grmabo

November 22nd, 2011

It’s “funny” you mention this Kate, because I’m studying this right now! It has been proven that it’s of course great for kids to be exposed like they are being to English, but that learning other subjects in their native language actually gives them an advantage in the long run, making it actually easier for them to pick up on English vocabulary -because- they have the Swahili bank already to help them out. However, this is rarely realized in practice (even in Norway) partially because popular belief says the opposite, that one should push the dominate language as much as possible.

kate

November 27th, 2011

Bingo! Thanks so much for sharing, Leah! That makes so much sense to me. I wish these schools could recognize the advantages of teaching other subjects in Swahili instead of succumbing to the popular belief that English is always the better option.

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