The dynamics of the language shift

SCHOOLS are soon opening after a long holiday. However, students will this time start the year with relatively new changes in the general education system. There are two major changes in the Rwandan education system: construction of the 9 –year basic education classroom blocks and the language of instruction gradually shifting emphasis from French to English. Another yet challenging one is the driver of these two vehicles, the teacher.

SCHOOLS are soon opening after a long holiday. However, students will this time start the year with relatively new changes in the general education system.

There are two major changes in the Rwandan education system: construction of the 9 –year basic education classroom blocks and the language of instruction gradually shifting emphasis from French to English. Another yet challenging one is the driver of these two vehicles, the teacher.

As regards 9YBE, the concerned districts are racing against the clock to finish up the construction of classrooms, thanks to those that worked tirelessly to get the job done.

One remarkable observation is that 9YBE has shown that Rwandans are very entrepreneurial and patriotic.  They have a solid work ethic and looking at the team spirit displayed in building the classrooms, it was a job well done.

This time of the year many people take some time off from their work to observe the holidays, but such was not the case for many dedicated primary and secondary school teachers.

They all had to undergo another intensive training: Learner-centred strategies of teaching.

The Government of Rwanda wants classroom instruction to be conducted in English. Not very new to our ears, but great news though. That is why teachers never had holidays. Despite a few hiccups here and there, they are expected to resume teaching.

Well, on the other hand, it poses a great challenge to many teachers who want to keep their jobs. I only remind my friends that we have got to accept change as a fact of life.

The biggest issue that is causing much anxiety here is the language shift. And one of the worst issues that stand on the way to learning English is phobia. It is mainly due to the attitude that a particular learner has towards the language.

The government and the Ministry of Education in particular, has to take the new policy shift by availing enough text books for learners and teachers to help them handle such changes.

These books need to be from various authors and publishers, because, varying authors provide sufficient material for learners to study.

Indeed, learning a foreign language can be frustrating. You know the feeling when you sit down to read but can’t make any sense out of it. You only have to remind yourself that learning a language takes time.

There is simply no way around this, not even shortcuts here. So the secret rules for learning a foreign language are time, persistence and hard work.

Motivation is perhaps the best trick to get you going but you will simply need to bite the bullet and keep going once your motivation runs out.

Rwanda is trying to embrace a language that will help it to meet the big Millennium Goals. We therefore need the English language to help us transform our country into a successful economy.

The author is a teacher at Kagarama secondary school

shebs10@yahoo.com

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