Dissertation: Language education policy and its implementation in three schools in Windhoek, Namibia's capital city

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Fri Oct 10 16:40:52 UTC 2008

Language education policy and its implementation in three schools in
Windhoek, Namibia's capital city
Aminata Diallo, University of Pennsylvania

Date: 2008

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At independence, in March 1990, Namibia adopted English as its
official language, replacing joint official English and Afrikaans, the
lingua franca of the country. Unique to this decision was the
historical absence of English in the country's colonial past, the
small percentage of first language speakers of English, the minimal
use of English in the education system and its virtual non-use as a
language of communication. Formal education was tasked with
implementing a comprehensive language education policy within the
framework of transitional bilingualism. The policy, which stipulates
'home language medium for the first three years with a phasing-in of
English medium from the fourth year of primary education ' has met
with differential implementation in Namibian schools, affecting
classroom practice and educational outcomes. This study describes
language policy implementation in the nation's capital city, Windhoek,
in three schools that draw learners from markedly different
socio-economic and linguistic backgrounds. The study offers an
ethnographic description of how the teaching and teaming of English is
accomplished and examines the current impact of policy on language
use, language values and classroom practice. Ethnographic research
methods, including participant observation, interviews, focus group
discussions, audio recordings, and questionnaires were utilized to
understand Namibian perspectives on the choice for official English
and its use as educational medium. The study seeks to extend the
present research literature on second-language English classrooms in
post-colonial, developing countries. In particular, the study may
encourage Namibian planners to take a fresh look at educational
language policy in the aftermath to independence.

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