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Title: Study of language alternation in the Ghanaian primary school classroom
Author: Seidu, Alhassan
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1998
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Although UNESCO 1953 recommends the use of students' mother tongue in education during the formative years, educators by no means agree on the extent to which local and international languages should be employed in primary school teaching. In Ghana language in education policy requires the use of LI medium in the first three years, but prohibits the simultaneous alternating use of the target language (L2) and the learners' mother tongue (LI) in classrooms. However, classroom practice presents quite a different picture. A major concern of this study is the examination of the classroom language of twelve primary school teachers with the aim of describing language alternation and its motivations in the classroom discourse of Ghanaian primary school teachers. Through detail study using audio recordings, the study provides evidence to show that most teachers disregard the policy restrictions and alternate two languages in class. Teachers' actual classroom language use in the first three years is one of language alternation with a tendency to greater use of English. After the first three years (classes 4-6), where the policy requires the use of English, again the pattern is that of alternation between English and Ghanaian languages with emphasis on English irrespective of the status or locality of the school. A national survey of teachers' opinion about what language they use in classrooms, also confirms the use of language alternation with emphasis on the use of English at both levels. Interestingly, the alternation shows dual direction. Teachers switch from English into L1 (L2→L1) and from LI into English (L1→L2). The present study also provides some evidence that language alternation in Ghanaian primary classrooms may be educationally beneficial. In general terms, for example, it was found that the teachers' acceptance of pupils' use of the mother tongue in combination with loan words enabled some of the pupils to participate fully in classroom discussions and learning. In conclusion, the study recommends that if primary education is to achieve any beneficial results of transferring school knowledge into home and community ones, then it is important that language alternation be recognised as a relevant pedagogic device for teaching and learning in Ghanaian primary schools.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available