Perspectives on Educational Language Policy and its Implementation in African Classrooms: A comparative study of Botswana and Tanzania

Jo Shoba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)


In these two African societies the role played in education by English, the ex-colonial language, is challenged by a national lingua franca: Setswana in the case of Botswana, and Kiswahili in the case of Tanzania. In examining debate over educational language policy in the two countries, I take into account political and economic differences, but I also identify parallels in the hierarchical evaluation of languages. In relation to the likely future direction of policy change, and in considering particularly the viability of English as a teaching medium, I argue that descriptions of classroom practice are necessary to inform effective educational language planning and I draw attention to two interactional patterns which are salient in classrooms in both Botswana and Tanzania, namely the use of bilingual codeswitching and reliance on teacher-centred recitation routines. My discussion links these patterns to the communicative needs of teachers and learners, in classrooms where English is a foreign language for the participants, and also to constraints on opportunities for teaching and learning. In my conclusion I argue that more creative and effective teaching and learning will be facilitated in Botswana and Tanzanian classrooms by pedagogies which are explicitly bilingual, and that this has implications for the official separation of languages which is the basis of present policy in both countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-362
JournalCompare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001


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