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Harnessing Linguistic Variation to Improve Education


Edited By Androula Yiakoumetti

This volume brings together research carried out in a variety of geographic and linguistic contexts including Africa, Asia, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe and the United States and explores efforts to incorporate linguistic diversity into education and to ‘harness’ this diversity for learners’ benefit. It challenges the largely anachronistic ideology that promotes exclusive use of an educational monolingual standard variety and advocates the use in formal education of aboriginal/indigenous languages, minority languages, nonstandard varieties and contact languages.
The contributors examine both historical and current practices for including linguistic diversity in education by considering specific bidialectal, bilingual and multilingual educational initiatives. The different geographical and linguistic settings covered in the volume are linked together by a unifying theme: linguistic diversity exists all over the world, but it is very rarely utilized effectively for the benefit of students. When it is used, whether in isolated studies or through governmental initiatives, the research findings point systematically to the many educational advantages experienced by linguistically-diverse students. This book will be of interest to teachers and language practitioners, as well as to students and scholars of language and education.


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Nkonko M. Kamwangamalu - 8 The Medium-of-Instruction Conundrum and ‘Minority’ Language Development in Africa 167


Nkonko M. Kamwangamalu 8 The Medium-of-Instruction Conundrum and ‘Minority’ Language Development in Africa Introduction This chapter discusses the perennial issue of choosing the medium of instruction in public schools in Africa. More specifically, language-policy makers in Africa have been grappling with the question whether the indig- enous African languages should replace former colonial languages such as English, French, Portuguese and Spanish as the medium of instruction in public schools and, if so, at what cost? The literature on language policy and planning in Africa has, over the years, attempted to shed light onto this issue of the medium of instruc- tion in African education (Bamgbose, 1983; Kamanda, 2002; Heine, 1990; Prah, 1995). What this literature seems to have overlooked, however, is that language policy and planning is an interest-driven game, one in which the stakeholders all plan to win and value the outcomes dif ferently. The term ‘game’ is borrowed from the ‘game theory’ (Harsanyi, 1977; Laitin, 1993). It is understood to refer to any situation in which there are at least two players, each with a number of possible options or strategies to choose from in order to achieve desirable, payof fs-driven, outcomes. The game theory itself is concerned with explaining how participants or players in a game, be they individuals, groups or organizations should act rather than with the question of how they will actually act in order to promote their interests (Harsanyi, 1977). The goal of the game theory is to predict and explain real-life human behaviour...

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