n IFE PsychologIA : An International Journal - Language in education in Ghana : the debate

Volume 13, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1117-1421



Recent anxiety over low performance in English of students and graduates of the country's educational institutions expressed by the populace and the print and electronic media led to a cabinet directive that the mother tongue policy medium in the first three years of primary education should give way to a straight-for- English medium policy of instruction and communication at all levels of education in Ghana. This cabinet directive sparked off a language policy debate. <BR>This paper examines issues surrounding the use of the English language as a medium of instruction in education in Ghana and the debate over change in education language policy. In considering, particularly, the viability of the mother tongue medium in primary education, a survey of 404 teachers in basic schools in 6 out of the 10 regions of Ghana was conducted to find out about their perceived classroom communication practice and language preference. Responses from teachers sampled indicate that a minority of teachers use the mother tongue exclusively during the teaching / learning process; bilingual code-switching as a communication strategy was commonly used; but the majority of teachers use the English language though more than half of the teachers sampled did not consider themselves proficient in the English language. It is argued that descriptions of classroom communication practice are necessary to inform effective education language planning. The discussion links up with the communicative needs of teachers and learners and implications for teacher training and education.

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