University of Cambridge > > Second Language Education Group (duplicate) > Francophone and Anglophone Primary school teachers’ representations of language and linguistic policies in Cameroon

Francophone and Anglophone Primary school teachers’ representations of language and linguistic policies in Cameroon

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Ewa Illakowicz.

Cameroon is a particularly complex multilingual country in which over 230 languages are still being used locally. Yet, the evolution of the linguistic situation is largely shaped by the educational system and the reproduction of language norms. These pay lip-service to the support of the national languages, and this in spite of the efforts and proposals of sociolinguists such as Tadadjeu. The current situation can be described as follows in (macro) sociolinguist terms:

Conflicting traditions are apparent and lead to different models of  multilingualism. While the strength of the exocentric norms inherited from the colonial powers (Germany, France and Britain) were encapsulated in the policy of official French-English Bilingualism after independence, the policy works against the development of the use of national languages in schools and is associated with a transitional view of multilingualism, i.e. awareness and maintenance of the national languages. The opposite view, supported by Tadadjeu, was to make multilingualism the heart of national integration, with functional complementarity between languages, an argument for an integrative view of multilingualism.
The present study is situated within the framework of comparative pedagogy and looks at the picture from a micro-interactional sociolinguistic angle. It sets out to document how these multi-level tensions inform primary teachers’ views and in particular the extent to which their pedagogical thinking still reflects the colonisers’ influence sixty years after independence. Teachers’ interviews and observations were carried out in two Cameroonian urban primary schools (one Francophone and one Anglophone) between September and  December 2008. In this talk, we will first give the historical background  necessary to understand the organisation of the educational system, then will give an  account of the research design and of  the methodological difficulties inherent in carrying out comparative work. We will then present interview data concerning ‘the home language’, ‘Pidgin English’ and  ‘bilingualism’.This is very much work in progress so interpretations of the data presented are still tentative.

This talk is part of the Second Language Education Group (duplicate) series.

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