Personal tools
 
Views

Debate: African languages in African schools

From Debatepedia

Jump to: navigation, search
[Digg]
[reddit]
[Delicious]
[Facebook]

Should native tongues take precedence over Western languages in African schools?

Background and context

Many African schools use French and English in the classroom. Historically this has its roots in the past colonisation of African countries by these European nations. However, this may not altogether undermine the value of this practice. English is increasingly becoming an international language, for both business and culture. Would African nations be putting themselves at a disadvantage if they tried to cling to their own distinctive linguistic and cultural heritages by using native languages in the classroom?

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]

Argument #1

[Add New]

Yes

The use of non-African languages, such as French and English in African schools is a throwback to colonialism. These Euopean tongues were adopted more by the order of the rulers of the day than for any practical advantage they might give.

[Add New]

No

Not so, languages such as English confer many academic advantages to those who know it. Most academic publications the world over are published in the English language, making them inaccessible to those who do not know English. By not knowing English, many modern resources such as the Internet handicap their users by presenting the overwhelming majority of information in English. French is also a major international language, with over 50 countries across the globe belonging to the club called La Francophonie

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Argument #2

[Add New]

Yes

If the issue is one of understanding, then it is a weak argument, as many countries (e.g. Japan and Germany) have proven that it is possible for your country to be powerful both academically and economically, whilst teaching pupils in schools their mother tongue as a first language, and English as a second. This serves to enhance the cultural identity of a country and translation is an easy option for turning English texts into the required language, although this may not even be necessary, if proficiency in English as a second language is good enough.

[Add New]

No

Unfortunately, developing African countries are not in the same position as their developed counterparts such as Japan and Germany. Developing countries do not have the resources to teach a second language and achieve anywhere near the same proficiency in it as the developed nations can. Translation is not only tedious (translating all needed works will be a vast undertaking, as African languages will not yet have been translated into), but would delay the accessibility of important scientific and academic texts for experts in the country. Translation is also no acceptable option in physical conversation, such as conferences, speeches, etc.

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Argument #3

[Add New]

Yes

Instead of looking at how our indigenous languages ca fit into the global society, we should look at how English fits into our own society. The vast majority of populations in Africa have grown up speaking languages other than English as their mother tongues, meaning that by adopting English as the standard language of your country, you are essentially disempowering these people in academic, commercial and even social spheres.

[Add New]

No

One cannot use the success of developed nations as evidence for the success of indigenous language tuition, as the academic, political and economic leaders and experts of such nations all exhibit dual proficiency to a degree unattainable in developing countries’ education systems.

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Argument #4

[Add New]

Yes

Perhaps English may have a role in the future of developing countries when they are powerful enough to compete globally. For the moment however, they remain divided within themselves, most often on ethnic lines. It is only by respecting people’s ethnicity (of which language is an important component) that we will ever be able to achieve the sort of national strength to compete globally – and until we achieve this, the use of English will handicap, not help such nations.

[Add New]

No

You cannot ignore the influences of the world on your country. By adopting an indigenous language, you are isolating your country linguistically from the rest of the world. No matter how “good” that may be for cohesion within your country, your neglect of this global language will cost your country dearly by making international relations the property of those few in your country who are able to understand English.

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section up]

Argument #5

[Add New]

Yes

Making an indigenous language a first language does not exclude making English a second language. This does not detract noticeably from having English as a first language where the pupils speak some other language as their mother tongue. The standard of education for each language remains the same, but we are respecting pupil’s rights to become more proficient in the language they commonly use in society, which is far more beneficial to them than having it relegated to second language status. English, by contrast, is spoken (relatively) a lot less frequently in African countries, and making it a second language recognises this.

[Add New]

No

Many African countries do not simply have one, or even two indigenous languages. South Africa, by example, has 10 official languages which are not English. If you allow people to opt for one of these as a first language, then you are dividing your country, not a constructive course of action. If, on the other hand, you declare one specific language to be the norm, it would have to be English, as it has the most practical usefulness for your country. Adopting a non-English language will still leave the same problems of global isolation shown earlier.

See also

External links and resources:

Books:

Problem with the site? 

Tweet a bug on bugtwits
.