ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

From data collected through the observation of 15 community junior and senior secondary schools, and a survey of 43 English language teachers in the observed schools, the paper describes the conflict in the use of Botswana English and Standard British English in the English language classrooms. The findings of the study reveal teachers' uncertainty regarding the model of English to use in the classroom, students' fear and confusion regarding the varieties of English appropriate in various contexts and a hostile learning environment which makes students reluctant to engage in meaningful interaction in English. It is necessary for policy makers to begin to think about the nature of the English being taught in schools. Teachers will need to acquire student management skills to improve the environment in which English is acquired.
Content may be subject to copyright.
1816-7659 /04/07 1-11 © Arua E. Arua
Marang: Journal of Language and Literature Vol. 17, 2007
USING TWO VARIETIES IN THE ESL CLASSROOM
1
Arua E. Arua
*
Abstract
From data collected through the observation of 15 community junior and senior secondary
schools, and a survey of 43 English language teachers in the observed schools, the paper
describes the conflict in the use of Botswana English and Standard British English in the
English language classrooms. The findings of the study reveal teachers’ uncertainty
regarding the model of English to use in the classroom, students’ fear and confusion
regarding the varieties of English appropriate in various contexts and a hostile learning
environment which makes students reluctant to engage in meaningful interaction in
English. It is necessary for policy makers to begin to think about the nature of the English
being taught in schools. Teachers will need to acquire student management skills to
improve the environment in which English is acquired.
Keywords:
varieties of English, English language teaching
Introduction
Increasingly, the varieties of English in use in sub-Saharan Africa, as in
many other multilingual regions of the world, are coming under intense scrutiny.
This scrutiny, which had initially been on the syntactic and lexical characteristics of
the varieties, has broadened to include, among other things, examining the
differences and similarities between the second and first language varieties,
establishing the legitimacy of the second language varieties and determining what
they could or could not be used for (see, for example, Tiffen, 1974; Obanya et al.,
1979; Ekong, 1980; Magura, 1984, 1985, 1995; Schmied, 1991; Banjo, 1995;
Buthelezi, 1995; Chisanga, 1995, 1998; Kamwangamalu & Chisanga, 1996; Arua,
1998, 1999, 2004; Merkestein, 1998; Makalela, 1999).
In language education, British English was prescribed as the appropriate
model for teaching English to Africans (Atoye, 1987; Gimson, 1980). Local varieties
of English in Africa were not considered because they were not standardized.
However, as these varieties have intruded considerably into primary and high
schools, some researchers have been examining their appropriateness as models for
teaching English to second language speakers (for example, Tiffen, 1974; Obanya et
al., 1979; Ekong, 1980; Arua, 1999).
1
This is a revised version of the paper presented at the 39
th
Annual TESOL Convention held at the
Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonia, Texas, USA, from 30 March – 2 April, 2005.
*
Department of English, University of Botswana, P/Bag 00703, Gaborone, Botswana.
Email: aruaae@mopipi.ub.bw
2 Marang, Vol. 17, 2007
This study of varieties of English in the Botswana high school classroom is
motivated by two factors. The first is that Botswana’s Revised National Policy on
Education (1994) does not prescribe any model as the variety for use in the
classroom. Arua and Magocha (2000:287) note that this could be the result of the
difficulties inherent in doing so. The lack of clarity on how to proceed in the
classroom is not only confusing but also implies that teachers could choose or use
any model of English they preferred. The second is the apparent conflict, noted in
Makelela (1999:69), in the use of the English in prescribed written materials and
the English with which classes are presented. In this connection, the teachers are
also in a potentially confusing situation regarding the variety of English they should
adopt.
In view of these two problems, this study discusses
a) Teachers’ characterization of the varieties of English they and their
students use,
b) The acceptability of Botswana English in the classroom,
c) Students’ awareness of the varieties available to them for use in the
classroom, and
d) The pedagogical strategies that teachers of English employ to overcome
the (negative) effects of the use of more than one variety in class.
Some background information should be noted at this point. First, English,
as the Revised National Policy on Education (1994) specifies, is the official
language and the medium of instruction in schools in Botswana. Its importance is
seen in the fact that it is used for the teaching of mathematics and science right
from Grade 1 in the primary school. It is subsequently used in the teaching of all
other school subjects from Grade 2 through Grade 12. In addition, it is the language
of instruction in tertiary institutions.
Second, before Botswana became independent, English teaching was mainly
the preserve of native speakers of the language. After independence, and over the
last 40 years, the nature of English language teaching has changed. English
teaching has become completely localized in government-aided primary schools
and more than 95% localized in government-aided high schools. Private schools,
however, still have many expatriate English language teachers. Thus, for the
purpose of making generalizations that are related to the use of English in
Botswana high school classrooms, only government-aided schools are used in the
study.
Varieties of English in Botswana
The two varieties of English that are under scrutiny in this study are
Botswana English (BE) and Standard British English (StBrE)
2
. That a variety of
2StBrE was retained at the end of British rule in Botswana for official and other purposes. In its written form, the variety is
well preserved in country, although some people are beginning to adopt American English written forms. In its spoken form,
StBrE has lost its shape, due to the influence of American and Indian English, among others.
Arua E. Arua 3
English referred to as BE exists is now agreed. The agreement is seen, for example,
in Bagwasi’s (2006) description of the model as a developing variety. She had
earlier (2002), as did Merkestein (1998), provided a detailed diachronic description
of the variety. Similarly, Arua (2004) and Arua and Magocha (2000) provide a
synchronic account of the same variety.
Here is a sample of sentences in the BE variety and a brief discussion of
their syntactic features:
a) If the other one is absent, then use the other one.
b) He said some things which he did not know their meanings.
c) The woman can be able to bring development.
d) He came to see the house yesterday, isn’t it?
e) Sharp! See you later.
f) He didn’t even know what is it all about.
In a), the phrase the other one is used twice. Its first occurrence means ‘the first
one’ in StBrE. In b), which is used as a coordinator rather than a subordinator. A
second explanation is that the preposition ‘of’ which should precede which has been
omitted. In c) can and be able are conjoined. They have the same meaning in StBrE
and so would not be used in this way. The tag isn’t it? in d) replaces ‘didn’t he?’
which is the StBrE tag. The tag appears to suppress other tags normally found in
StBrE. Sharp! in e) stands for ‘excellent’, ‘fine’ or ‘good’ in StBrE. Finally, f) should
read ‘He didn’t even know what it was all about’. Here, the subject and the auxiliary
verb which should normally exchange places do not do so. Nor does the verb ‘is’
become the past tense ‘was’. The BE variety, discussed fully in Arua (2004), is
widespread in Botswana. It is not surprising that it should also be used in the
school domain.
The second variety, StBrE, is the language of the textbooks. The
characteristics of the variety have partly been given in the contrastive analysis
above. Many of the textbooks in use in the high schools are written either by British
nationals or by others using StBrE. The major departure from textbooks used in
Britain is the introduction into the Botswana textbooks of local colour, especially in
terms of personal and place names and labels and in terms of the description of
local food items and fauna. StBrE is the dialect used in the textbooks because it
served as the model for teaching written English during British colonization of
Botswana. With the adoption of English as the official language in Botswana after
the departure of the British, the variety was retained as it was the most convenient
to use. We shall see, presently, how students and teachers deal with the two
varieties discussed in this section in their classrooms.
Data collection
Data for the study were elicited through observation and survey. The
researcher observed English language classes over a seven-year period as part of
the University of Botswana’s Faculty of Education teaching practice supervision
4 Marang, Vol. 17, 2007
programme for postgraduate diploma in Education students. His observation of the
use of English in the classes enabled him to generate a questionnaire as the survey
instrument which was then administered to English language teachers employed in
the schools observed.
The questionnaire was a simple instrument designed to corroborate or
contradict the researcher’s observations of the use of varieties of English in the
classes. Though administered only to teachers, it sought to elicit from them their
views about the varieties of English that they and their students use and the
strategies they adopt in teaching English in their classes. Data were not solicited
from students. Nevertheless, the teachers’ perceptions of their students’ use of
English should suffice for the purposes of this paper.
The respondents consist of Batswana teachers – 29 from 12 Community
Junior Secondary Schools (CJSSs) and 14 from 3 Senior Secondary Schools (SSSs)
(see the Appendix for a list). Only half of the students graduating from the CJSSs
proceed to the SSSs. So there are considerably fewer SSSs than CJSSs.
The sampling procedure is closely tied to the supervision schedule provided
by the Faculty of Education, University of Botswana, the organizers of the Teaching
Practice Supervision. The Faculty assigns teaching practice supervisors to schools
in different parts of Botswana to which student-teachers have been posted. The
schools to be visited are usually spread through urban, semi-urban and rural areas.
The data collected for this study are therefore representative of all the schools in
Botswana, as they are evenly spread from the southern through the northern parts
of Botswana.
The minimum qualification for teaching in the high school is a three-year
diploma acquired from one of Botswana’s secondary colleges of education or an
equivalent qualification. The qualifications of the teachers used in the study are
presented in Table 1.
Table 1: Teachers’ Qualifications
Qualifications Diploma Bachelors Masters
CJSS(N=29) 15 (51.7%) 13 (44.8%) 1 (3.4%)
SSS(N=14) - 13 (92.9%) 1 (7.1%)
It is obvious that only university graduates teach in the SSSs. Diploma and degree
graduates can and do teach in the CJSSs, as the data in Table 1 show.
The teaching experiences at both levels are similar as the majority of
teachers fall into the 1-10 year teaching experience bracket, 72.45% for CJSS
teachers and 56.1% for the SSS teachers. Table 2 contains the data on teaching
experience.
Table 2: Teaching Experience
Schools 1-5 6-10 11-15 16-20 20+ Not stated
CJSS(N=29) 13(44.8%) 8(27.6%) 1(3.4%) - 3(10.3%)
4(13.8%)
SSS (N=14) 5(35.7%) 3(21.4%) 1(7.1%) 2(14.3%)
3(21.4%) -
Arua E. Arua 5
The foregoing indicates that Botswana teachers, including those with diploma
qualifications, are well qualified, and as such would be able to provide the data
needed for the study. Sex (or gender) was not considered a necessary variable for
the study, which is intended to elicit general responses from both genders.
Nevertheless, for informational purposes, women constitute more than half of the
population of teachers in Botswana’s secondary schools.
Discussion
This section discusses the results of the four main issues the paper set out to
examine. These are the teachers’ and students’ English, the acceptability of BE in
the classroom, students’ awareness of BE and StBrE and the pedagogical strategies
teachers adopt to remedy the effects of the use of the varieties in the classroom.
Description of Teachers and Students’ English
The teachers characterize their English and the English of the students
differently, as Table 3 shows. The teachers believe that they speak a more refined
variety of English than their students do. A sizable number (17.2% for CJSSs and
35.7% for SSSs) of the teachers regard the variety of English used by their students
as unacceptable because it is of poor quality. A greater number of the teachers is of
the view that the variety is acceptable locally (39.9% for CJSSs and 28.6% for SSSs).
Although some teachers did not respond to the question (20.7% and 7.1%
respectively), it is evident that the teachers generally characterize the variety of
English used by their students negatively.
Table 3: Teachers’ Description of the Language they and their Students Use
Students Teachers
Description of variety
JSS
No=29
SSS
No=14
JSS
No=29
SSS
No=14
L(ocal) unacceptable English 5(17.2%) 5(35.7%) - -
L English accepted by local
community
11(39.9%)
4(28.6%)
1(3.4%) 1(7.1%)
L English accepted by
international Community
2(6.9%) - 2(6.9%) 1(7.1%)
L English accepted by local
&international Community
2(6.9%) 2(4.3%) 14(48.3%)
1(7.1%)
International English of British
origin
1(3.4%) 1(7.1%) 7(24.1%) 7(50%)
International English of
American origin
- - - -
International English of mixed
origin
1(3.4%) - - 2(14.3%)
Any other description
(standard English)
1
3.4
-
-
2
6.9
-
-
No response 6(20.7%) 1(7.1%) 3(10.3%) 1(7.1%)
6 Marang, Vol. 17, 2007
The language of the teachers on the other hand they describe positively. All
teachers, both diploma and degree graduates, speak a variety of English accepted
both locally and internationally. This is especially interesting as classroom
observation has shown that the teachers code switch extensively in class and use
the variety of English described above as BE. The teachers’ views are similar to
those of parents who, in Arua and Magocha (2000:287-288), are reported to be
happy with the English used in local schools. They think that the English is
comparable to other varieties used in other parts of the world. This implies that
both teachers and parents believe that teachers are good models for high school
students acquiring English in Botswana.
Acceptability of Botswana English in the Classroom
How should BE be deployed in the classroom? Table 4 contains the
teachers’ views on this. Teachers do not know whether it is right to use BE for class
discussions and oral presentations. Many of them (41.8% and 42.9% for CJSSs and
SSSs respectively) indicate that it is acceptable. But an equally large number
(34.5% and 28.6%) thinks it is not. The responses here may be due to a lack of
understanding of the variety that constitutes spoken English in the classroom.
StBrE already has the plain (and informal) style in which class presentations are
normally conducted. To this is now added a local variety which is also used in class.
There is, therefore, some degree of uncertainty regarding whether the new variety
should be allowed in class. It is clear from the discussion that the use of English for
oral presentations depends largely on the views of each teacher. The lack of
agreement on what constitutes the language of classroom presentation is certainly
not good for the effective teaching of English in Botswana.
Table 4: Acceptability of Botswana English
Acceptability
JSS
N=29
SSS
N=14
In formal writing 1(3.4%) 1( 7.1%)
In the spoken form 13(41.8%) 6(42.9%)
Acceptable
No response 7(24.1%) 3(21.4%)
In formal writing 19(65.5%) 11(78.6%)
In the spoken form 10(34.5%) 4(28.6%)
Not acceptable
No response 8(27.6%) 1(7.1%)
There is no confusion regarding whether BE should be used in formal
writing. The majority of the teachers (65.5% for CJSSs and 78.6% for SSSs) are of
the view that it should not. Again, this could be connected to the fact of the
uncertainty of what its syntactic and lexical features are, although, as indicated
elsewhere in this paper, the features are now being specified. There are no
dictionaries or lexical lists that indicate the words that are legitimately part of the
variety or the circumstances in which the words can be used. This is, perhaps, the
Arua E. Arua 7
reason why second language varieties such as BE are classified as informal, as
Kamwangamalu and Chisanga (1996) have done in respect of Swazi English. It
follows then that the variety of written English available to students in the high
school is StBrE, the variety in which textbooks are written.
Awareness of Varieties of English and its Effects on Students in the Classroom
The teachers commented on whether their students are aware of the use of
BE and StBrE in the classroom and what the effects of the varieties have on them.
Table 5 presents the views of the teachers on their students’ awareness of the
varieties. Again, a majority of the teachers indicate that their students are not
aware of the varieties. This lack of awareness makes it difficult for students to
understand the need for contextually motivated choices in the use of English. The
lack of awareness also has other negative effects, if teachers’ accounts of their
observations of their students in the classroom are to be trusted.
Table 5: Awareness of the Variety
Awareness CJSS
N=29
SSS
N=14
One variety - 1(7.1%)
Two varieties 1(3.4%) 2(14.3%)
Lack of awareness 21(72.4%) 9(64.3%)
No response 7(24.1%) 2(14.3%)
First, students exhibit fear and confusion regarding their use of English in
the classroom. This is mainly because, according to the teachers, they are not
always sure that they are going to make appropriate lexical, grammatical and
semantic choices as they attempt to verbalize their thoughts. A hostile classroom in
which students are sometimes derided for their lack of knowledge in and ability to
use English adds to the students’ insecurity about their oral communication. These
twin factors of confusion and fear are also the reason why many students in class
do not speak or use English, unless they are responding to specific questions from
the teacher. In addition, they account for why some students have no interest in
acquiring the language. There are, then, too many problems, from the students’
perspective, associated with the learning of English.
Second, students speak a mixed variety of English with BE as the base
dialect. In other words, they map alien words and structures onto BE. This they do
in three ways. One, students generally translate from their mother tongues into
English. This is an acknowledged communication strategy for ESL learners, as Ellis
(1985:184) shows. The translation shows that the students are thinking and
forming their concepts in their mother tongues or second languages before
transferring them into English which is a third language for some Batswana
students. Two, students use tsotsitaal, a pidgin which resembles English but has
elements of Afrikaans and other Southern African languages in it. The students’
thinking may be based on the fact that the use of tsotsitaal is preferable to either
8 Marang, Vol. 17, 2007
the mother tongue or any other local language as a substitute for English in
instances in which they are not able to use English. Three, students use American
slang, the type generally heard, on Channel 0, a music channel on the South African
Multi-choice TV network that features black American rappers and others whose
use of English is almost always informal and slangy. As some of the teachers
indicate, students want to imitate the musicians they see on TV. They, as a result,
generally adopt the language of those they are imitating.
Pedagogical Strategies
In order to remedy the negative effects of BE and StBrE in the English
language classroom in Botswana, the teachers employ three teaching strategies.
The first one is traditionalexplicit and direct teaching of the differences between
the varieties and how they should be deployed in spoken and written contexts. The
teachers indicate that they produce examples of the varieties and point out the
differences between them. They also define and describe some linguistic
metalanguage such as standard, official, informal, formal and so on. It is a moot
point whether defining these labels at the high school level would be of much help
in making students understand how to use English well, but the teachers think that
it is necessary, as they would make the students aware of English language varieties.
The second strategy adopted by the teachers is to increase the opportunity
for students to practise communicating in English in their classes. As is very well
known, a rich linguistic environment does not exist in many natural ESL
environments, especially those where English is spoken as an official second
language. This situation differs radically from countries such as the UK and the
USA where the environment alone can guarantee the effective acquisition for
second language learners of English. There are limited opportunities to practise the
use of English outside of school hours for many high school students, especially in
the remote areas of Botswana (Arua et al, 2005). The consequence of this is that
many students revert to their mother tongue(s) after school. It is appropriate for
teachers to give their students enough time to practise the use of English through
role-plays, debates and classroom presentations and discussions. In such situations,
they can monitor the rate of development of their students more effectively.
The last strategy that teachers cite is modelling proper use of English for the
students. Teachers model both the written and the spoken aspects of English. The
written aspect is certainly not problematic. They present essay samples and other
kinds of writing which they want the students to copy. They point out the
characteristics of the essays, so that students can see and understand what
constitutes a good essay of either the formal or informal type. This echoes the
product approach which should not be the only approach that should be adopted in
teaching students how to write well.
The spoken aspect of the modelling behaviour is problematic, as there is no
standardized Botswana accent to be adopted. Indeed, there has been no attempt to
study the sound pattern(s) of Botswana English as has been done for some African
varieties of English (see Tiffen, 1974; Arua, 1999, for example). Some phonology
Arua E. Arua 9
experts insist on the use of native speakers as models (Atoye, 1987; Gimson,
1980:300). This practice, of the use of native speakers as models, is still very much
in evidence in Asian countries where native speakers without linguistic training are
employed to teach English on account of their correct accents.
3
However, as this is
neither practicable nor acceptable in Botswana’s sociolinguistic situation, Batswana
teachers should serve as models. The teachers would need to undergo in-service
training to discuss issues related to the phonology of BE. This would enable them to
become more aware of their accents. This would, in turn, check teachers’ modelling
of different accents and teaching styles, a phenomenon that does not bode well for
the teaching of English in Botswana.
Conclusion
Undoubtedly, the study of language use in the classroom is important. This
study itself is important in that it points to the difficulties inherent in not specifying
a model of English for the teaching and learning of English in Botswana.
Accordingly, there is need for a discussion on the model of English that should be
adopted both in teaching and examining. As things currently stand, students are
taught using a local, supposedly inchoate, undefined model and examined using
Standard British English whose character in Botswana is not as clearly understood
as it was in the past.
It is obvious that teachers need to be taught student management skills.
These are skills that would enable them to encourage their students and to improve
the English language learning situation by removing fear and confusion from the
learning environment and in the teaching process. The skills would also enable
them to adopt student-centred participatory approaches to teaching and learning.
In other words, teachers need to support their students and get the students to
support one another in the English language learning process.
Works Cited
Arua, A. E. (1998). Some syntactic features of Swazi English. World Englishes, 17
(2), 139-52.
Arua, A. E. (1999). Aspects of Swazi English accent. Indian Journal of Applied
Linguistics, 25 (1 &2), 175-87.
Arua, A. E. (2004). Botswana English: Some syntactic and lexical features. English
Worldwide: A Journal of Varieties of English, 25 (2), 255-72.
Arua, A. E. & Magocha, K. (2000). Attitudes of parents to their children’s use of
English in Botswana. Journal of Language, Culture and Curriculum, 13, 279-
90.
3
This issue was discussed at some of the fora at the 2005 TESOL Convention. Although many
participants frowned at the practice, they nevertheless recognized the right of employers to select and
employ the teachers they desired.
10 Marang, Vol. 17, 2007
Arua, A. E. et al. (2005). Improving the quality of literacy learning in the content
areas – Situational analysis of secondary level education in Botswana. Paris:
UNESCO.
Atoye, R. (1987). The case for RP as the appropriate model for teaching English
pronunciation. Ife Studies in English Language, 1 (1 & 2), 63-69.
Bagwasi, M. M. (2006). A developing model of Botswana English. In A. E. Arua, M.
M. Bagwasi, T. Sebina, & B. Seboni (Eds.), The study and use of English in
Africa (pp. 113-132). New Castle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press.
Bagwasi, M. M. (2002). A historical development of a Botswana variety of English.
PhD dissertation, Indiana University.
Banjo, A. (1995). On codifying Nigerian English: Research so far. In A. Bamgbose,
A. Banjo, & D. Thomas (Eds.), New Englishes: A West African perspective
(pp. 203-31). Ibadan: Mosuro.
Botswana Government (1994). Government paper no. 2: Revised National Policy
on Education. Gaborone: Government Printer.
Buthelezi, Q. (1995) South African Black English: Lexical and syntactic
characteristics. In R. Mesthrie (Ed.), Language and social history: Studies in
South African sociolinguistics (pp. 242-50). Cape Town: David Philip.
Chisanga, T. (1995). The thin line between interlanguage and creative norms: Focus
on English in Southern Africa. Paper presented at the 4
th
Conference of the
Linguistic Association of SADC Universities, University of Swaziland,
Kwaluseni, 9-13 October.
Chisanga, T. (1998). English in South Africa: Beyond the native speaker. Paper
presented at the 5
th
Conference of the Association of University Teachers of
Literature and Language in SADC Universities, Windhoek, Namibia, 16-20
August.
Ekong, P. A. (1980). Investigating into the intelligibility of a possible standard
model in Nigerian spoken English. Journal of Language Arts and
Communication, 1 (1), 14-21.
Ellis, Rod (1985). Understanding second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
Gimson, A. C. (1980). An introduction to the pronunciation of English. London:
ELBS and Edward Arnold.
Kamwangamalu, N. M. & Chisanga, T. (1996). English in Swaziland: Form and
function. In V. de Klerk (Ed.), English around the World: Focus on South
Africa (pp.285-300). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Magura, B. (1984). Style and meaning in African English: A sociolinguistic
analysis of South African and Zimbabwean English. PhD Thesis, University
of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
Magura, B. (1985). Southern African Black English. World Englishes, 4 (2), 251-6
Magura, B. (1995). Style, lexical innovations and context in Southern African
English. Marang, 11, 16-29.
Makalela, J. (1998). Institutionalized black South African English. The Journal of
the National Association of Educators of Teachers of English, 13, 58-71.
Arua E. Arua 11
Merkestein, A. (1998). Deculturizing Englishes: The Botswana context. World
Englishes, 17, 171-85.
Obanya, P. et al. (1979). An empirical study of the acceptability of four accents of
spoken English in Nigeria. In E. Ubahakwe (Ed.), Varieties and function of
English in Nigeria. Ibadan: African University Press.
Schmied, J. (1991). English in Africa: An introduction. London & New York:
Longman.
Tiffen, B. (1974). The intelligibility of Nigerian English. Unpublished PhD Thesis,
University of London.
Appendix: Schools
Bakwena Kgari Community Junior Secondary School
Denjebuya Community Junior Secondary School
Ledumadumane Community Junior Secondary School
Maikano Community Junior Secondary School
Makhubu Community Junior Secondary School
Mannathoko Community Junior Secondary School
Mogoditshane Community Junior Secondary School
Mojamorago community Junior Secondary School
Pandagala Community Junior Secondary School
Phatsimo Community Junior Secondary School
Ponatshego Secondary School
Ramotswana Community Junior Secondary School
Ranokanyane community Junior Secondary School
Swaneng Hill Secondary School
Tutume McConnell College
... As for the role of BE in the English language classroom, Arua (2007) in his study, 'Using two varieties in ESL classes', reports that teachers are uncertain 'regarding the model of English to use in the classroom'. While the teachers are hesitant to recommend spoken BE in the classroom, they are opposed to it being used in formal writing even though they themselves speak and write BE, a situation that Arua (2007) believes might be connected with the uncertainty regarding its syntactic and lexical features. ...
... As for the role of BE in the English language classroom, Arua (2007) in his study, 'Using two varieties in ESL classes', reports that teachers are uncertain 'regarding the model of English to use in the classroom'. While the teachers are hesitant to recommend spoken BE in the classroom, they are opposed to it being used in formal writing even though they themselves speak and write BE, a situation that Arua (2007) believes might be connected with the uncertainty regarding its syntactic and lexical features. However, Arthur (1994, 65, 67) is of the view that Batswana English users, including teachers, 'still defer to standard British English' because BE is considered 'deviant and unacceptable'. ...
... It thus appears that the notion of 'Standard' in the country is misunderstood and/or confused. Actually, Arua (2007), in his findings on the variety of English taught in high schools, reports that teachers lack sufficient awareness of the syntactic and lexical characteristics of BE, which implies that the teachers are not well grounded in StBrE that they are expected to teach and examine. ...
Article
Full-text available
Concerted efforts to characterise Botswana English (BE), though still referred to as ‘a variety in development’, have validated its existence. However, the teaching and assessment of English in the high schools do not seem to have responded to the development of this variety. This paper discusses the viability of using Standard British English as the model for teaching and assessing students’ proficiency in high schools in Botswana. It examines the country's education focusing on language policy, the teaching methodology advocated in schools and teachers’ preparedness and how these factors affect English language teaching and assessment. It also highlights areas of contradiction in policy documents regarding the teaching methodology and the model/variety taught and examined. The paper then proposes the recognition of BE as an appropriate model/variety for instruction in schools in Botswana, noting that this will not only eliminate the contradictions in the current English language teaching and assessment syllabi, but also reflect some of the ways by which English mirrors the linguistic ecology of the country.
... Ramsay et al. 1996;Bagwasi 2002). Subsequent language policies confirm the colonial status quo as indeed the last National Commission on Education (1993) which made English compulsory in Education even from primary school (see Arua 2007). Though schools were established in the Kalanga areas around the 1900s, Kalanga people only started having a fair share of the influence of English through formal and informal acquisition during the colonial period. ...
... Currently English occupies the prestigious status of official language as well as the language of instruction at all levels of education. Practically this means that English pervades all spheres of life in Botswana (see Bagwasi, 2002;Arua, 2007). ...
Article
Full-text available
The Kalanga language is spoken in Botswana and Zimbabwe. In Botswana, it has no literary role, but the majority of its speakers have learnt English at school. This has over time led to borrowing and adoption of English words in the language. Borrowing is linked to the status of L2 which is regarded as technologically, culturally and politically prestigious. Certain classes of speakers of L1 may mark themselves socially by phonologizing in a particular manner. When English words are acquired, they are assigned the phonological features of Kalanga. The phonologization processes outlined in this paper relate to the nativization of foreign sounds that characterize lexical borrowings from one language into another. When these lexical items or terms are phonologized, they take the phonological and morphological characteristics of the borrowing language. Grammatical changes may eventually occur if these processes are widespread or are associated with important syntactic accompaniments with borrowings. For instance, once nativized, such lexical items also acquire features such as tone which are not part of the source language. The contrastive discussion of phonologization is a relevant topic in the acquisition of English and provides insights on how the pronunciation of English by Kalanga L2 learners of English may be ameliorated.
... English language instruction can then focus on the latter group. To do this effectively, however, the teachers have to keep abreast of the changes in English in Botswana as a previous research has revealed that the teachers themselves do not demonstrate enough awareness of some of the predictable forms peculiar to Botswana (Arua, 2007). ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines the morphological and syntactic differences between English and Setswana pronouns, and how these differences manifest in students’ usage of English pronouns at the University of Botswana. It also discusses some of the ways by which the learners may be assisted to become more proficient in using English pronouns. An analysis of 542 essays written by second and fourth year students of the Department of English reveal the following categories of pronoun errors: the intrusion of an independent subject pronoun between a subject and its verb, the conflation of the standard expression the one…the other into the other…the other, inter substitution of they/there/their, lack of gender and case distinctions, use of pronouns without antecedents and pronoun referent agreement errors. In terms of the sources of these errors, the paper shows that the first six types of errors seem to relate directly or indirectly to the morphological and syntactic structures of Setswana pronouns while the last type is largely intralingual. The paper recommends that policy planners should recognise the existence of Botswana English and its influence on learners’ acquisition of English, and appropriately reflect this in language teaching policy, tests and exams in the country. It also suggests that teachers should raise their awareness of Botswana English in order to be able to distinguish between learners’ usage that are unpredictable and those that have become systematic localisms, and delegate more learning responsibility to the learners themselves.
... Currently English occupies the prestigious status of official language as well as the language of instruction at all levels of education. Practically this means that English pervades all spheres of life in Botswana (see Bagwasi, 2002; Arua, 2007). ...
Thesis
The Kalanga language is spoken in Botswana and Zimbabwe. In Botswana, it has no literary role, but the majority of its speakers have learnt English at school. This has over time led to borrowing and adoption of English words in the language. Borrowing is linked to the status of L2 which is regarded as technologically, culturally and politically prestigious. Certain classes of speakers of L1 may mark themselves socially by phonologizing in a particular manner. When English words are acquired, they are assigned the phonological features of Kalanga. The phonologization processes outlined in this paper relate to the nativization of foreign sounds that characterize lexical borrowings from one language into another. When these lexical items or terms are phonologized, they take the phonological and morphological characteristics of the borrowing language. Grammatical changes may eventually occur if these processes are widespread or are associated with important syntactic accompaniments with borrowings. For instance, once nativized, such lexical items also acquire features such as tone which are not part of the source language. The contrastive discussion of phonologization is a relevant topic in the acquisition of English and provides insights on how the pronunciation of English by Kalanga L2 learners of English may be ameliorated.
Article
IKalanga has borrowed extensively from English over a long period of time. The direction of borrowing is largely linked to the sociolinguistic status and role of English, which is regarded as a technologically, culturally and politically prestigious language in Africa in general and Botswana in particular. Some of the significant phonological differences between these two languages are as follows: English allows complex onsets, syllable codas and complex syllable nuclei (long vowels and diphthongs), while iKalanga, like most other Bantu languages, does not. The tense-lax distinction is phonemic in English, while in iKalanga it is not. How does iKalanga deal with these marked structures? Complex onsets and codas are repaired through vowel epenthesis, while complex syllable nuclei are simplified through glide epenthesis. Drawing insights from the constriction-based Feature Geometry (FG) model, it is shown that epenthetic vowels and glides are products of spreading. Our overall analysis employs analytical tools from classical Optimality Theory (OT), the central idea of which is that surface forms of language reflect resolutions of conflicts between competing constraints. OT provides us with descriptive terminology and a theoretical mechanism for a principled and systematic expression of the generalisations presented in this article. We demonstrate the constraint interaction that determines the phonological structure of loanwords in iKalanga.
Article
Full-text available
Article
Full-text available
The paper discusses some of the syntactic and lexical features of Botswana English. The syntactic features are the tag questionisn't it?and the conversational tagis it?, the exclamationSharp!, the indefinite pronoun phrasethe other one, the dangling modifier, the inversion of auxiliary verb and subject in reported questions, the redundant use of personal / reflexive pronouns, the use of the negative auxiliarydon't,the conflation of the English adjectivesorryand the Setswana adverbialhoo!,the use of the subordinating conjunctionwhichand the modal auxiliarycan be able.The lexical items discussed include Setswana words that have been borrowed and/or translated into English and words such ascondomise,diarise,shameandbrigadewhich have been formed through the processes of derivation and semantic extension. The lexical and syntactic features are those which the researcher has observed, over a six-year period, to be in frequent and widespread use in Botswana.
Article
Full-text available
The paper reports a positive shift in the attitudes of some Batswana towards the local variety of English here described as Botswana English. The new attitude is the result of familiarity with the variety in the last decade or so. It is also the result of the belief that the variety is inherently good and that its users, especially children, use it in a communicatively competent manner. In addition, the respondents believe that not only is the variety not inferior to others – native or non-native – but that it can be understood by speech communities that speak English anywhere in the world. Finally, the respondents are satisfied that the variety is of a quality that can be used for educational purposes in Botswana, although the implications of its use are yet to be addressed.
Article
Full-text available
The paper describes some stable syntactic features of Swazi English. It is thus an extension and elaboration of the discussion in Kamwangamalu and Chisanga’s characterization of Swazi English. They point out that the wh-word is placed last in question formation, time expressions such as ‘I met him last of last week’ occur and idiomatic expressions such as ‘To see once is to see twice’ are used. This paper discusses, among others, the use of the modal auxiliary must, the use of as to, the conflation of the emphatic do with the simple past tense and dangling modifiers as other stable syntactic features of Swazi English. It then elaborates on the use of idiomatic expressions, since in Kamwangamalu and Chisanga’s discussion only a few were mentioned. Finally, as there are few descriptions of Swazi English, the paper advocates more studies on the subject.
Thesis
The aim of this investigation was to measure the intelligibility of educated Nigerian speakers of English to British listeners and to analyse the main causes of intelligibility failure. The test material consisted of the following: I- Connected Speech, II - Reading Passage, III - Phonemes, IVA - Stress, IVB - Intonation. The speech of 24 Nigerian first-year university students - 12 Yoruba and 12 Hausa speakers - was recorded. An RP speaker was also recorded. The-recordings were played to 240 British listeners, each Nigerian speaker being assessed by 10 British listeners. A scoring system was devised for the tests of Connected Speech. The intelligibility scores ranged from 92.7% to 29.9%, with a mean score of 64.4%. The RP speaker's score (based on all 240 listeners) was 99.4%. Listeners' impressionistic judgements of the speakers' intelligibility correlated closely with the scores obtained on Test I. The most intelligible Nigerian speaker was 93% as efficient as the RP speaker, the mean Nigerian speaker was 65% as efficient, and the least intelligible Nigerian speaker 30% as efficient as the RP speaker. Test I- Connected Speech - was taken as the criterion of fundamental importance in assessing intelligibility. The other tests were regarded as subsidiary. - It was found that Connected Speech was significantly correlated with Reading and Stress, but not with the tests of Phonemes and Intonation. Partial correlation analyses showed that stress is the major component of all aspects of intelligibility. The errors leading to intelligibility failure were categorised into four groupings: - rhythmic/stress, segmental, phonotactic, lexical/syntactic. Rhythmic/stress errors (38.2% for all speakers) were the major cause of intelligibility failure. This was closely followed by segmental errors (33.0%). Phonotactic errors (20.00) were of lesser importance, while lexical/syntactic errors (8.8%) were of minor importance. Details of the actual phonetic errors are summarised in Chapters 11-13. The study concludes with some observations on the testing and teaching of oral English in the light of these findings.
Article
In this paper I argue that those instruments normally applied to the analysis of discourse, and which originate in the Western tradition of analysing language, must be used with extreme caution when one analyses and describes New Varieties (of English). To substantiate this claim I will take as an example recent work on the emergence of Batswana English. In this research a traditional methodology was employed in order to give a part-description of language change. In the paper the choice of data, analytical tools and method of description are examined. Furthermore the research findings are discussed in the light of a deculturisation of Western-based analysis, since at the conclusion of the research the tools were assessed as not being wholly appropriate if the analysis was to be interpreted in a functional manner, that is, from the perspective of the owners of the new variety.