Language policy and practice in a multilingual classroom : managing linguistic diversity in a Namibian high school

Mensah, Henry Amo (2014-04)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study examines the language policy and implementation outside and inside the classroom in a multilingual and multicultural international school. Specifically, it aims at giving an insight into how linguistic and cultural diversity is managed at Windhoek International School (WIS). It takes a specific interest in the kinds of language policy that determine which languages are used in education in a context where both teachers and learners are L1 speakers of a considerable number of different languages. The participants in this study are multilingual learners and teachers of WIS. The study uses data from the school records, a questionnaire, interviews and observation. The analysis of the data is descriptive, interpretive and explanatory. The findings of the study are that the language policy at WIS is articulated in such a manner that it encourages monolingual norms although the school’s community is multilingual. English is the MoI, used in official communication across the school and also as a language of communication with the school’s stakeholders. Other European languages, namely- French, German and Portuguese are officially taught as modern foreign languages. Significantly, none of the local Namibian languages are taught in the school. However, the school does not bar its learners and teachers from using their LotE especially outside of the classroom. The study also shows that the language ecology at WIS demonstrates a situation of polyglossia where English is on top of the language hierarchy. From the findings, it is suggested that since WIS recognises the multilingual and multicultural composition of its learners and teachers, its whole school policy should be looked at again to reflect current thinking in language-in-education policy. The policy should place emphasis on dynamic bilingualism by supporting and encouraging the teaching and learning of LotE, including local indigenous languages, as a means of scaffolding and as a means of bridging knowledge development in the school. However, for purposes of examination, the school should place emphasis on the extensive use of English to enable its learners to meet the requirements of external examiners.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie bestudeer die taalbeleid en implementering daarvan binne en buite klaskamerverband, by ‘n veeltalige en multikulturele internasionale skool. Spesifiek, is die doel om insae te gee in hoe talige en kulturele diversiteit by Windhoek Internasionale Skool (WIS) hanteer word. Dit stel belang in die verskillende soorte taalbeleid wat bepaal watter tale in onderrig en leer gebruik word in ‘n konteks waar sowel die onderwysers as die leerders eerstetaalsprekers is van ‘n aansienlike aantal verskillende tale. Die deelnemers in hierdie studie is veeltalige leerders en onderwysers aan die WIS. Die studie gebruik data wat bekom is uit skoolrekords, vraelyste, onderhoude en deur waarneming. Die analise van die data word gedoen in die vorm van beskrywing, interpretasie en verduideliking. Die bevindinge van die studie hou in dat die taalbeleid aan die WIS so geartikuleer is dat dit eentalige norme ondersteun, alhoewel die gemeenskap wat deur die skool bedien word, veeltalig is. Engels is die medium van onderrig (MvO/MoI) aan die skool, word in amptelike kommunikasie binne die skool gebruik, en is ook die kommunikasietaal by alle belanghebbendes van die skool (ouers, borge, ens.). Ander Europese tale, naamlik Frans, Duits en Portugees, word as moderne vreemde tale binne die skool se leerplan aangebied. Heel opvallend, word geeneen van die plaaslike Namibiese tale in die skool aangebied nie. Ten spyte van hierdie taalreëlings word leerders en onderwysers van die skool nie beperk in die gebruik van ander tale as Engels (LotEs) nie, veral buite die klaskamers. Die studie toon aan dat die taalomgewing by WIS tekenend is van ‘n sg. poliglossiese gemeenskap waar Engels in die taalhiërargie bo-aan te staan kom. Die bevindinge suggereer dat die WIS, in die lig van hulle erkenning van die veeltalige en multikulturele samestelling van die leerders en onderwysers, sy skoolbeleid in die geheel behoort te heroorweeg, sodat dit belyn word met die mees resente denke oor taal-in-onderrig-beleid. Die beleid behoort op dinamiese tweetaligheid klem te lê deur die onderrig en leer van ander tale as Engels (LotEs), ook plaaslike inheemse tale, aan te moedig en te ondersteun. Dit moet so gedoen word dat dit as “steierwerk”kan dien in die oorbrugging wat nodig is vir leer deur medium van ‘n tweede of vreemde taal. Daarbenewens word aanbeveel dat die skool vir eksamineringsdoeleindes aandag skenk aan die uitgebreide gebruik van Engels, sodat leerders in staat is om aan die vereistes wat eksterne eksaminatore stel, te beantwoord.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86615
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