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Contrasting language-in-education policy intentions, perceptions and practice: the use of English and Kreol Seselwa in the Seychelles
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies. University or Seychelles, Anse Royale, Seychelles. (LITUM)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1341-3854
2022 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
En jämförelse av utbildningspolitiska intentioner, uppfattningar och praktiker rörande undervisningsspråk : användningen av engelska och kreol seselwa på Seychellerna (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

Many studies have shown that Second Language (L2) Medium of Instruction (MoI) policies in Africa are linked to educational inequity, substandard teaching practice, low literacy skills and poor overall academic performance. In the light of this background, this thesis aims to make a more thorough inquiry into questions related to language-in-education policies, L2 as MoI, and academic success in the Seychelles, a small island nation in the Indian Ocean. Here the first language (L1), Kreol Seselwa, is used as MoI during the first two years of primary education and is then replaced completely, and quite abruptly, by English. While such L2 MoI policies exist in many parts of Africa, Seychelles is in many ways unique since approximately 98% of the student population all have the same L1, i.e. Kreol Seselwa. We are thus not dealing with a situation where the use of English in education is motivated by it being a lingua franca. 

The Seychelles is also the smallest and least populated country in Africa, offering an easily accessible context for linguistic exploration into matters regarding language-in-education policies. The country’s small size also enables one to gain real depth of insight into the language-in-education policy situation and the challenges faced by many nations in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). 

Using an eclectic methodological approach, including critical discourse analysis of policy documents, classroom observations, writing experiments, semi-structured interviews, survey questionnaires and corpus analysis, the thesis investigates the “problem” on various levels of the educational system (macro, meso and micro). The main focus lies on challenges and consequences of current language-in-education policies, culminating into four individual papers which include: 1) an analysis of educational policy documents such as the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) and subject syllabi; 2) an investigation the teachers’ attitudes towards teaching through English and/or Kreol Seselwa; 3) an evaluation of learners’ ability to write their subject knowledge in English and Kreol Seselwa and 4) an investigation of Primary Six pupils’ ability to make meaning through their literacy practice in English and Kreol Seselwa. 

Bernard Spolsky’s (2004) comprehensive theoretical framework of language practices, language beliefs and values, and language planning and/or management is then used as the main analytical model to analyse the results and describe how these four studies are interconnected systematically in their quest to shed light on the current language-in-education context of Seychelles.

The main findings indicate that current language-in-education policies are contributing to educational inequity, especially given that the present-day system relies heavily on written examinations. The overall conclusion is that the full potential of using the mother tongue in learning contexts is not being realised, primarily a result of deeply rooted negative attitudes towards Kreol Seselwa being used in the Seychelles educational context. 

The “language problems” in the Seychelles educational system are thereby investigated systematically and the results are highly relevant for all post-colonial contexts where L2s are used as MoIs. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University , 2022. , p. 113
Series
Umeå studies in language and literature ; 47
Series
Umeå Studies in the Educational Sciences ; 52
Keywords [en]
Code switching, Kreol Seselwa (Seychelles Creole), L2 Medium of Instruction, Post Colonialism, Language Policy, Translanguaging, Bilingualism, Multilingualism
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
language studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-192319ISBN: 978-91-7855-736-3 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7855-737-0 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-192319DiVA, id: diva2:1636358
Public defence
2022-03-09, Lecture hall E, Humanities Building, Umeå, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2022-02-16 Created: 2022-02-09 Last updated: 2022-02-14Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Revisiting the Trilingual Language-in-Education policy in the Seychelles National Curriculum Framework and Subject Curricula: Intentions and Practice
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Revisiting the Trilingual Language-in-Education policy in the Seychelles National Curriculum Framework and Subject Curricula: Intentions and Practice
2016 (English)In: Island Studies, Indian Ocean/Océan Indien, ISSN 1694-2582, Vol. 3, no 1, p. 50-59Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The policy documents of a country’s education system can provide evidence of that particular country’s vision for its people’s socio-economic, socio-cultural and academic development. Such documents can also say much about the power relations between different languages that might be represented within it. Educators, policy makers, educational leaders, teachers, learners and parents are some key players directly or indirectly affected by these policy documents. Using Critical Discourse Analysis and Spolsky’s (2004, 2012) framework for language policy analysis, this paper investigates the trilingual language-in-education policy in the Seychelles National Curriculum Framework (2013) and three Subject Curricula (English, Kreol Seselwa and French), with the aim to explore how the documents relate at the levels of policy planning, implementation and practice. Our findings reveal that there are discrepancies between the overarching Curriculum Framework, where all three national languages are given central roles and equal status, and the Subject Curricula, where clear differences in the power and functions of the languages emerge. Further, on a more pragmatic level, it is of concern that the current policy documents do not explicitly acknowledge the role of the language instruction as a vehicle for learning when describing learning goals and terminal objectives – a good understanding of English (the current L2 medium of instruction) is a prerequisite for succeeding in education. Further, the lack of attention to the question of L2 writing literacy and the fact that Seychellois students have to become fairly advanced English writers at an early age if they want to communicate their knowledge across the curriculum is particularly disconcerting.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Seychelles: Seychelles University, 2016
Keywords
language-in-education planning, L2 medium of instruction, Kreol Seselwa, multilingualism
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
language studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-128311 (URN)
Note

Proceedings of the International Conference on Education (University of Seychelles, 5-8 July 2015)

Available from: 2016-12-01 Created: 2016-12-01 Last updated: 2022-02-09Bibliographically approved
2. Conflicting ideologies: When the ideological Meets the Perceived and Operational: A Study of primary teachers' attitudes, perceptions and practice of Seychelles Creole (Kreol Seselwa) and English as mediums of instruction in the Seychelles Primary Schools
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Conflicting ideologies: When the ideological Meets the Perceived and Operational: A Study of primary teachers' attitudes, perceptions and practice of Seychelles Creole (Kreol Seselwa) and English as mediums of instruction in the Seychelles Primary Schools
2018 (English)In: Norsk og internasjonal lærerutdanningsforskning: Hvor er vi? Hvor vil vi gå? Hva skal vi gjøre nå? / [ed] Kari Smith, Bergen: Fagbokforlaget, 2018, p. 129-151Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper builds on Zelime & Deutschmann, 2016, where we examined language ideologies/directives in the Ideological and Formal domains of the curriculum in a multilingual postcolonial context – the Seychelles. Our overall conclusion from this work was that there was a clear mismatch between the roles that different languages were ascribed in these two domains. In this paper we look at manifestations of the Ideological and Formal curricula in the Perceived and Operational domains of the curriculum, more specifically, the language beliefs, attitudes and classroom practices of primary school teachers. We base our findings on questionnaire answers from 142 respondents in 22 primary schools, coupled with classroom observations and teacher interviews. The Seychelles has a fairly typical postcolonial language-in-education system and follows a transitional model of medium of instruction (hereafter MoI). In this system children are taught in Kreol Seselwa (hereafter K.S.), the mother tongue of the vast majority, during the first two years of schooling after which it is replaced by English. Officially, K.S. retains its role as a “support language”, but in reality, controversies surround this practice. Our results indicate that while K.S. plays a central role in the everyday lives of the teachers, they are surprisingly negative to its role in education. The majority want to see it removed altogether and replaced by an English-only model. At the same time most teachers also acknowledge the importance of K.S. as a support language. Using a framework of postcolonial theory, we try to explain this inconsistency.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bergen: Fagbokforlaget, 2018
Keywords
Post-colonialism, Seychelles Creole (Kreol Seselwa), Second Language Medium of Instruction (L2MoI)
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-147923 (URN)9788245022599 (ISBN)
Available from: 2018-05-22 Created: 2018-05-22 Last updated: 2022-02-09Bibliographically approved
3. The effect of the language of testing on second language learners’ academic performance in social studies: The case of Kreol Seselwa and English in the Seychelles classrooms
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The effect of the language of testing on second language learners’ academic performance in social studies: The case of Kreol Seselwa and English in the Seychelles classrooms
2018 (English)In: L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, ISSN 1567-6617, E-ISSN 1573-1731, Vol. 18, p. 1-22Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study examines the use of Seychelles Creole (hereafter, Kreol Seselwa), and English as languages for testing knowledge in the Social Studies classroom of the Seychelles. The objective of the study was to ascertain whether the languages used in the test affected the pupils' academic performance. The paper is theoretically influenced by the Social Practice approach to writing (Street, 1984), challenging a monolingual (autonomous) approach in favour of a more multilingual (ideological) model which takes into account all the learners' language repertoires. A within groups experimental design was implemented, and 151 primary six pupils (11-12 years) from three different schools wrote a short test, in a counterbalanced design, in two languages. The topic of the test was fishing, mostly local contextual knowledge, taught in English. The tests were marked for content in both languages. The results showed that the scores on both languages highly correlated, indicating that both tests captured the same knowledge constructs. However, pupils achieved significantly higher marks in the tests written in Kreol Seselwa than in English. The study has implications for policymakers, teachers and most importantly learners in other multilingual settings, particularly in post-colonial countries like the Seychelles, where the mother tongue is undervalued in the classroom.

Keywords
Kreol Seselwa, L2 medium of instruction, subtractive multilingualism, social studies
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-166399 (URN)10.17239/L1ESLL-2018.18.01.10 (DOI)000498516000019 ()2-s2.0-85063093928 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2019-12-17 Created: 2019-12-17 Last updated: 2023-03-24Bibliographically approved
4. Communicating Local Knowledge in a Foregin Language: A comparative study of ideational and interpersonal aspects of primary school pupils' L1 and L2 texts in the Seychelles
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Communicating Local Knowledge in a Foregin Language: A comparative study of ideational and interpersonal aspects of primary school pupils' L1 and L2 texts in the Seychelles
2019 (English)In: L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, ISSN 1567-6617, E-ISSN 1573-1731, Vol. 19, article id 12Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Drawing on evidence from second language medium of instruction (L2 Mol) context (the Seychelles), the objective of the study was to investigate to what extent the choice of language is a factor that influences pupils' writing and their opportunities to incorporate their own knowledge, person, experiences and world views in their school knowledge production. The evidence is based on findings from a corpus of 308 written texts, produced by 154 primary six pupils in the Seychelles in the subject of Social Studies, where each pupil answered the same task under controlled conditions in their native tongue (Kreol Seselwa) and in English (L2 Mol) in a counterbalanced design. Apart from text length, aspects of two metafunctions from Halliday's Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) were investigated in the analyses, namely 1) the cognitive ideational dimension and 2) the social and interpersonal dimension. With relevance to the ideational dimension, we also looked at how students resorted to code switching to express their ideas. The results of the study show that pupils produced longer texts when writing in Kreol Seselwa and that they code switched more in the English texts. Further, the Kreol Seselwa texts contained far richer vocabulary to describe the semantic domain of the locally contextualised topic of the exercise. It was also evident that pupils used far more first-person pronouns when writing in their mother tongue, indicating a closer engagement with the text than when they wrote in English. The study has implications for policy-makers, teachers and most importantly learners in other multilingual settings, particularly in post-colonial countries like the Seychelles, where the mother tongue is undervalued in the classroom.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
International Association for Research in L1 Education (ARLE), 2019
Keywords
Code switching, Kreol Seselwa, L2 medium of instruction
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-166512 (URN)10.17239/L1ESLL-2019.19.01.12 (DOI)000498521500030 ()2-s2.0-85083455776 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2019-12-18 Created: 2019-12-18 Last updated: 2023-03-24Bibliographically approved

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