Educational Language Policy in An African Country: Making A Place for Code-Switching/Translanguaging

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Department of Humanities


In Ghana, plurilingual language use is the norm rather than the exception. It follows that the multilingual linguistic practices of bilingual and multilingual Ghanaians should be reflected in language planning and languages-in-education policies. The study explores the nature of Ghana's complex sociolinguistic ecology and details the shifts in language-in-education policies from the colonial era to the present. A closer look at the policies presents two opposing models: policies that draw on monolingual ideologies involving the use of English only as a medium of instruction from pre-school to higher levels, and policies that promote a bilingual approach where Ghanaian indigenous languages and English are used concurrently in the lower grade classes (grades 1-3), with a transition to English-only instruction from grade 4 onwards. The paper argues that instabilities in languages-in-education policies occur through the effects of ideology and policy formulation that do not take into account the linguistic ecologies of different communities, or indeed, the linguistic ecology of the Ghanaian classroom. It is proposed that rigid policies can be productively modified by recognizing the reality of code-switching in classrooms and shifting focus to the creative learning possibilities that translanguaging opens up.

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© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2020-2002

Publication Title

Applied Linguistics Review