The Continued Use of the Metropolitan Languages and the Effect on National Language Development in African Countries:
the Case of English as the Medium of Instruction in Tanzanian Secondary and Tertiary Education Institutions
Martha Qorro (Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
It is very true that the domination and rule of European powers over African territories during the colonial period (from the 1880s to the 1960s), have had a strong, sometimes crippling, effect on the decisions, practice and creativity of the nation-states that came to be in their nation-hood. One striking example is that of the continued use of the metropolitan language as the medium of instruction in formal education in Africa and its effects/impact on development in African countries. This paper will address the language of instruction issue and its impact on development in African countries while taking Tanzania as a case in point. Specifically the paper will first examine the dilemmas Tanzania has been facing in adopting the national language, Kiswahili, and the ambivalent position the government has been holding over the years. Secondly, the paper will try to demonstrate the failure of the current curriculum, not only in transforming learners into creative entrepreneurs, but also in learning the very metropolitan languages that it (the curriculum) was meant to enhance. Finally, the paper will propose what needs to be done to overcome the language of instruction dilemmas; specifically how both the national and metropolitan languages can be developed and maintained, while human as well as technological development are also kept on board.