ERIC Number: ED366542
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Sep
Reference Count: N/A
Which Language for Teaching? The Cultural Messages Transmitted by the Languages Used in Education. Contribution of Education to Cultural Development.
Gfeller, Elisabeth; Robinson, Clinton
African schools rarely present instruction in the students' native languages. The language of instruction tends to be of European origin. What results is a civilized elite which is unsuccessful in bringing knowledge to the vast majority of the population. A project in Cameroon proposes to teach through extensive trilingualism. First, children learn reading, writing, and arithmetic via the local language. At the same time the children begin to learn one of the "official" languages, which may become the primary language of instruction. Later, students learn a third language, which may be either the second official language or the local tongue of a neighboring community. Such an effort was conducted from 1981 to 1987. Students expressed themselves better and performed slightly better in arithmetic, and about equally well in French, as did a control group. Teaching in the local language is a necessary part of preserving the local culture. Failing to promote the culture would amount to promoting alienation and harming self-esteem. Discrepancies between theory and practice would only be reinforced through setting apart the official language and the vernacular. Despite years of promoting official languages, the local tongue is still the main vehicle of communication. Using local language in education would signal that one can be educated but still retain African culture. (SG)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, Paris (France).
Note: Paper presented at the United Nations Educational, scientific and Cultural Organization International Conference on Education (Geneva, Switzerland, September 14-19, 1992). Forty-third Session. For related documents, see SO 023 753-762.