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Language Policy in East Africa

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Table of contents

1.0 Introduction

2.0 Language planning

2.1 Definition

2.2 Stages of language planning

3.0 Language policy

3.1 Definition

3.2 Types of language policies

3.3 Language policy in east Africa

4.0 Conclusion

5.0 Reference

1.0 Introduction

This paper seeks to provide to language teachers, applied linguists (sociolinguists) and students of sociolinguistics with an accessible overview of language planning, language policy and their relationship with education. Most languages (English in this case) are growing in importance as international models of communication especially in the fields of commerce science and technology. English as a national language in countries where it functions as a second language is undergoing changes associated with growing feelings of nationalism. Varieties of English are developing in sub- continents (Indian English) and nations (Nigerian English) which may be far removed from traditional definitions of Standard English, Pidgin English in Papua New Guinea being an example.

Kiswahili as well records varieties as the regions where it is spoken do not exhibit the similarity in phonology. That is why it is said hat the coastal Kiswahili of Kenya varies quiet significantly with the Kiswahili spoken in Nairobi and the up country.

The developing varieties are being considered or have been adopted as media for education together with indigenous mother tongue vernacular whose speakers are demanding more recognition for their languages. These language developments are a reflection of socioeconomic and political upheavals apparent particularly in developing world as countries strive for modernization and westernization at the same time wishing to preserve their own culture.

This term paper therefore strives at focusing on attempts of various nations especially the east African countries to regulate the use of languages through language planning and language policy.

2.0 Language planning

2.1 Definition

Language planning is a deliberate language change, this is changes in the systems of a language code or speaking or both that are planned by organizations established for such purposes the article developed by cooper and emphasized by Rubin states that language planning must take place in asocial context and that to ignore sociolinguistics factors such as attitude or needs of groups who will be affected could lead to the failure of language planning program. Cooper suggests that, since one of the aims of language planning may often be to facilitate or prevent a groups adoption of a particular language or variety, we should seek answers; who adopts what , when, where, why and how?

2.2 Steps in language planning

According to (Rubin 1971), the steps are outlined as follows:

1. Identification of language problem

2. Establishing goals, strategies and outcomes

3. Implementation

4. Feedback

Step 1: Identification of language problem/ fact finding

Language planning begins with identification of a problem, in particular with identification of concrete areas of the society that demand planned action regarding language resources.

Language planning thus focused on problem solving and tries to find the best (for optimal, most efficient, most valuable) alternative to solve a problem (Rubin &

Jernnud 1971)

At this stage, the planners must have certain amount of information about the situation in which the plan is to be effected. Probably, the more information the better. He should know something about the needs of the target or client which he intends to solve. He should know something about sociolinguistics setting in which the plan is to be effected; what the patterns of usage are. He should recognize how his plan relates to other continuing socio-economic and political processes. He should have some idea about the value of already functioning related models- in the case of bilingual education, this would include knowledge of alternative bilingual models, of alternative effects of these models, of acceptance of these models. An example of where detailed information was gathered before making policy is the Bilingual/Bicultural commission in Canada which did extensive studies before making its recommendations to the legislature.

Step 2: establishing goals, strategies and outcomes

In this step, several decision-making and different [personnel are involved. A policy-maker may identify a certain problem as requiring attention. He will then decide on the degree of priority he and his cohorts want to assign these problems. The decision depends in a large part on the amount of money allocated to a particular piece of legislature. Sometimes the policy-maker decides on policy based on knowledge of prior studies and a thorough assessment of the values and attitudes involved but more often such decisions are made without prior studies.

The setting of goals seems to take place at several levels. First legislature may establish some general goals and assign responsibility for the implementation of a piece of legislation. Then the agency or institution which receives the mandate may define these goals more specifically taking into account the amount of funding received and the capabilities of the staff. Finally, the implementations may define the goals in terms of the local situations. Often actual outcomes are not established in advance, even though it would be helpful if they were. Then one could have some sort of evaluation of the strategies used.

Step 3: implementation

This process involves: a) mobilization of resources and general financial and personnel management. b) Motivation and supervision of those concerned with both the management of the program and its target, c) the sequencing and co-ordination of related aspects of the policy, such as the preparation of texts in language not formerly used as a media of instruction. Needless to say, proper implementation is a critical variable in the success of



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