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English(es) in Post-Independence Namibia

An Investigation of Variety Status and Its Implications for English Language Teaching

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Helene Steigertahl

This volume contributes to the fields of World Englishes, English Language Teaching and Second Language Acquisition, assessing the English(es) spoken in post-Independence Namibia beyond variety status. Based on questionnaires and corpus analysis, the author analyzes morphosyntactical structures, language use and attitudes towards English(es) in comparison to home languages. She gives new insights into the structure of spoken language and potential varieties of English in particular. Focus is put on a geographical area that only recently attracted increasing attention in the field of World Englishes. The author’s work can be regarded as an attempt to bridge several aspects of the frequently discussed «paradigm gap» between World Englishes and Second Language Acquisition studies.

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The study at hand combines a theoretical with a practical approach on the English spoken by Black Namibians after independence. English in Namibia was put into the context of English(es) in Africa in general, based on the frameworks of WE and ELT. Previous research showed that ENL, ESL and EFL form a continuum instead of distinct clear-cut categories and that the two fields of WE and SLA should converge. Based on these observations, implications for ELT were assessed: Three models (cf. Kirkpatrick 2006, 2009) were put forward in order to teach English(es) more realistically, and to emphasize communicative competence instead of so-called ‘native-speaker norms’. Furthermore, the use and functions of English(es) in African countries were tackled, including linguistic complexities such as multilingualism, multiethnicity and challenges in LPLP, e.g. English-medium instruction and MTE. It became clear that MTE is crucial for cognitive development per se and should be supported; it is a basis for (second) language acquisition and learning in general. These points were further addressed with reference to the Namibian linguistic situation, i.e. how and why English was introduced as the sole official language in Namibia with independence in 1990. Prior to independence, English had served as an official language alongside German and Afrikaans; however, only the latter was given priority during the South African regime from 1920 to 1989. Reasons for the implementation of English as the only official language in Namibia seem to be current still after more than two decades: Its global...

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