Student expectations and perceptions of the usefulness of their linguistic repertoires for achieving social integration and academic success at an international university in Namibia

Kamwi, Beven Liswani (2017-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The study examined the perceptions and expectations held by students towards the usefulness of their linguistic repertoires in helping them achieve social integration and academic success at the International University of Management (IUM) in Namibia. The general aims of the study were to establish the nature of the linguistic repertoires of the students at the IUM who do not have English, the IUM’s medium of instruction, as first language; to establish the extent to which students before entering the IUM expected such repertoires to assist them in their social adjustment and academic success; and to assess the students’ expectations and perceptions of the extent to which their linguistic repertoires indeed assisted them to achieve social integration and/or academic success at the IUM. It also takes a specific interest in the nature of linguistic repertoires that students expected to need to adjust to university life at the IUM, both socially and academically. The participants in this study were first-year students on the Windhoek campus of the IUM. The data was collected by means of a language background questionnaire, individual interviews and a focus group discussion. Questionnaires were completed by 44 participants, after which interviews and a focus group discussion were held with a sample of eight students who volunteered for these purposes on the questionnaires. The data of the study was transcribed, described, interpreted and thematically analysed to identify recurring patterns which ultimately informed the research questions. The findings of the study are that students at the IUM are multilingual, able to effectively communicate in an average of three languages – mostly English (the medium of instruction), the individual’s first language and another, third language. Also, IUM students employed different languages or language skill in different contexts to fulfil different purposes (e.g., communication or identification purposes). English is by far the most favoured language by the students, due its status as the medium of instruction at the IUM, the official language of Namibia, and the campus-wide lingua franca to interlocutors of diverse first languages, as well as the language of communication amongst different university stakeholders. The second and third most widely used languages on campus were respectively Oshiwambo, because it accounts for half of Namibia’s population, and Afrikaans, due to its status of former official language in pre-independent Namibia. Other African languages and some foreign languages (such as French, Portuguese and Dutch) also formed part of the students’ linguistic repertoires and were mainly used in informal domains. English, by contrast, was predominantly used in formal domains (such as in lectures, in offices and with university authorities), but also, to some degree, in informal settings (e.g., for conversation with strangers or at social gatherings). Finally, the study demonstrated that students have positive attitudes towards their linguistic repertoires helping them to achieve social integration and academic success at the IUM. Particularly competence in English was seen as a valuable tool in meeting the students’ social and academic needs, whereas first languages were seen as compensating in those academic areas where the students lacked sufficient proficiency in English.

AFRIKAANS OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie het ondersoek ingestel na studente se persepsies van en verwagtinge oor die nuttigheid van hul linguistiese repertoires in die bevordering van hul sosiale integrasie en akademiese sukses aan die Internasionale Universiteit van Bestuur (IUB) in Namibië. Die algemene doelstellings van die studie was om die aard van die linguistiese repertoires vas te stel van daardie IUB-studente wat nie Engels (die medium van onderrig aan die IUB) as eerste taal het nie; om vas te stel wat die studente se verwagtinge en persepsies was van die mate waartoe hul linguistiese repertoires hulle sou help om sosiale integrasie en/of akademiese sukses aan die IUB te bewerkstellig; en om vas te stel tot watter mate sulke repertoires wel studente se sosiale aanpassing en akademiese sukses bevorder het. Die studie fokus ook op die aard van die linguistiese repertoires wat die studente gedink het nodig sou wees om by die universiteitslewe aan die IUB aan te pas, beide sosiaal en akademies. Die deelnemers aan die studie was eerstejaarstudente op die Windhoek-kampus van die IUB. Die data is ingesamel met behulp van ‘n taalagtergrondsvraelys, individuele onderhoude en ‘n fokusgroepbespreking. Vraelyste is deur 44 deelnemers voltooi, waarna onderhoude en ‘n fokusgroepbespreking gehou is met ‘n monster van ag studente wat op hul vraelyste aangedui het dat hulle bereid sou wees om hieraan deel te neem. Die data van die studie is getranskribeer, beskryf, tematies geanaliseer en geïnterpreteer om herhalende patrone te herken wat die navorsingsvrae sou help beantwoord. Die bevindinge van die studie is dat studente aan die IUB veeltalig is; hulle is daartoe instaat om effektief te kommunikeer in gemiddeld drie tale – meestal Engels (die medium van onderrig), die individu se eerste taal en ‘n ander, derde taal. Verder gebruik IUB-studente verskillende tale of taalvaardighede in verskillende kontekste vir verskillende doeleindes (bv. vir kommunikasie- of identifikasie-doeleindes). Engels is verreweg die studente se voorkeurtaal weens Engels se status as die medium van onderrig aan die IUB, as die amptelike taal van Namibië, en as die kampuswye lingua franca vir gespreksgenote van verskillende eerste tale, sowel as die kommunikasietaal tussen verskillende rolspelers aan die universiteit. Die tale wat tweede en derde meeste op kampus gebruik word, is onderskeidelik Oshiwambo, want die helfte van Namibië se bevolking praat dié taal, en Afrikaans, weens Afrikaans se vorige status as amptelike taal in pre-onafhanklike Namibië. Ander Afrikatale en sommige vreemdetale (soos Frans, Portugees en Nederlands) vorm ook deel van die studente se linguistiese repertoires en word meestal in informele domeine gebruik. Engels daarteenoor word hoofsaaklik in formele domeine gebruik (bv. tydens lesings, in kantore en met universiteits- bestuur), maar ook tot ‘n mate in informele opsette (bv. vir gesprekvoering met vreemdelinge of tydens sosiale byeenkomste). Ten slotte het die studie aangetoon dat studente positiewe gesindhede teenoor hul linguistiese repertoires het om hulle te help met sosiale integrasie en akademiese sukses aan die IUB. Veral kompetensie in Engels is as ’n waardevolle instrument beskou om studente se sosiale en akademiese behoeftes te bevredig, terwyl eerste tale beskou is as kompenserend in daardie akademiese areas waarin dit studente aan voldoende vaardigheid in Engels ontbreek het.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/100954
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