A Critical Analysis of Namibia”s English-Only Language Policy

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14 September 2021

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Language Policy was correctly launched after 1990 when Namibia received independence. The aims of the language coverage have been to handle the inequality and injustices from the apartheid regime the place and Afrikaans was a dominant language and was elevated above any language in society. Prior to 1990, Afrikaans was used because the official language in Namibia particularly in faculties, and learners who spoke Afrikaans had been having advantages over non-Afrikaans speaking learners. Only college students whose mother tongue was English or Afrikaans have been better off.

“English alone definitely can’t promote appreciation nor facilitate the preservation of Namibia’s many indigenous cultures and native languages. In fact, the exclusive use of English in Namibia’s essential public domains adequately serves to prevent the training of Namibian languages, thereby leading to the erosion of those languages, as has been argued by numerous students close to different African states” (Bamgbose, 1991). According to (Kisting, 2012) state that “English has been the medium of instruction in most of Namibia’s school rooms for almost 20 years, however with lecturers shown to be failing in competency tests.

” According to Kisting (2011) discovered that “staggering 98% of Namibian lecturers — or 22 089 — cannot learn, write and properly communicate English nicely enough. This exhibits that if learners master the language of instruction, will improve literacy and proficiency in the second language.”

There is a widespread consensus that the English language has failed lecturers and they did not master competence. Many learners wrestle with the medium of instruction and the restricted language abilities of teachers endangered the competency them.

Students’ success at school relies upon upon there being proficient within the Language of Instruction (Wilkinson & Silliman, 2008). “The LOI carries out a crucial role in learning, as Malekela (2003) fairly argues if the learner is handicapped in the LOI, then, studying could not take place because the effective teacher and the learner is not going to be speaking.” The mom tongue as the language of directions will on a regular basis give the transformation and revival of the mind of the learner. According to (Iikela, 2019) acknowledged that “language coverage correctly promotes the use of mother tongue as a medium of instruction in the early life of education (Grades 1-3) and its continued use as a school topic in additional education”. Therefore, language is a serious contributor to the acquisition of any second language.

The Use of Mother Tongue in Classroom Teaching

The policymakers are in expectation of using the mother tongue as a medium of instruction within the classroom. The cause behind all that is to create the inductive environment in order that learners may be changing into proficient in the medium of instruction. Many youngsters communicate a home language that differs from the language of instruction in education programs. Research confirms that “children study finest in their mom tongue as a prelude to and complement of bilingual and multilingual education” (UNESCO, 2011:p 6). The language coverage of Namibia requires that each child examine a minimum of one indigenous language which is the mother tongue or the dominant language of the broader community in their main schools. The official recognition of indigenous languages in the education coverage is the veritable device of efficient communication and a noble gateway to learning correctly. There are some challenges to the efficient implementation of the schooling coverage. Some youngsters that go through kindergarten are instructed in English as the medium of instruction and once they attain grade 1, are required to alter into the mom tongue. Primary training is extra significant when conducted in the child’s mom tongue. The language policy of Namibia for the medium of instruction in the school settings must be vividly clear so that learners and lecturers could additionally be guided in order to achieve the targeted objectives. Properly educating the learner the content, directions and key concepts using the mom tongue positively enhances the learner’s cognitive capability, potential exposure, and character growth.

The Benefit of Mother Tongue

According to (Fafunwa, 1986) stated that “the greatest language for good concept formation at a really tender age is the indigenous language”. When children have developed concepts e.g “W” for ladies, “P” pupil then they will be literacy and proficient. “Mother-tongue instruction ought to be the easiest way for children to learn because it bridges the hole between home language and language of instruction. Every language is adequate enough to give high cognitive expertise to its users and there are not any major or minor languages. Therefore, mom tongue instruction must be extended as lengthy as attainable. A Lingua Franca or a language of wider communication cannot be an different to the mother tongue, and it ought to be averted till the child fully acquired their mother tongue” (UNESCO, 1953).

Supply of Teachers

Lack of certified academics to the medium of instruction languages have contributed considerably to the ineffective implementation of education policy at primary faculties throughout the nation. Teaching learners in their mom tongue.

Effective of Mother Tongue as Medium of Instruction

Bloch (1991) opined that “much of our thinking is of course accomplished through language” and subsequently pondering and language is inseparable. “Learning a mother tongue includes constructing grammars consonant with some innately specified system of language universals and testing these grammars in opposition to a corpus of noticed utterances in some order mounted by an innate simplicity metric. And, in fact, there must be a language in which the universals, the candidate grammars, and the noticed utterances are represented. And, in fact, this language can’t be a pure language since, by the hypothesis, it is his first language that the child is learning” (Fodor, 1975: 58). Gamaroff (1997) accurately stated that “we can’t learn a language or something unless we already possess an internal language” and this is the mother tongue which helps to positively enhance to accumulate other languages. According to Cummins(1980) opined that “although BICS (Basic Interpersonal and Communicative Skills) and Cognitive and Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) is the foundation of CALP and all wholesome human beings routinely ‘acquire’ BICS of their mom tongue. Basic interpersonal and communicative skills do play a big role within the effective improvement of cognitive and educational language proficiency.” Deyi (2011) found out that “language and conceptualization are deeply interrelated in that after the language of a learner is absolutely developed for knowledge processing it allows the learner to entry concepts in areas of studying with understanding. For learners to have a full grasp of ideas, they need a language. When students study in a language during which they’re acquainted, they are in a position to develop higher-order ideas and are higher able to achieve educational success.”

According to Cummins (1980) stated that “attainment of cognitive-academic language proficiency or CALP, is necessary for children to reach the “context-reduced, cognitively demandingly actions of reading, writing, arithmetic, science, and other college topics. It is best achieved by constructing on the linguistic base language-minority youngsters deliver to highschool, quite than eagerly attempting to replace it. Native-language instruction is much more than an interim service of subject-matter content material. Language is the efficient means via which the conceptual and communicative proficiency that underlies both [native-language] and English literacy is developed.”

Mother Tongue and Acquisition


He additional specified that bilingual youngsters are more likely to be more efficient and effective in creating L2 if they’re outfitted with many L1 competencies such as concept information.

Cummins (1991) acknowledged bilingual children are more probably to be extra efficient and efficient in creating L2 if they are geared up with L1 competencies similar to conceptual information.” Some academic research has wisely instructed that “L1 turns into the factual basis of L2 development” (August& Shanahan, 2008). According to Torrance, Gowan, Wu, and Aliotti (1970) additionally level out that “limited academic and linguistic proficiency of bilingual students in either L1 or L2 is as a result of of lack of L1 faculty support.” Bialystok and Hakuta (1994, p.11) acknowledged that “the mom tongue provides the linguistic context, and it shapes not solely the general principles of language acquisition but in addition the specific route one takes when attempting to grasp a particular language” (p. 11). Oketani (1997) acknowledged that “L1 (Japanese) reading proficiency positively predicted both L2 (English) reading proficiency and educational outcomes as a complete.”

“Mother tongue has an edge instruction for higher learning and cognitive improvement of children and it is proven that kids who have developed fluency in their mother tongue also can purchase other languages extra easily” (Cummins, 1979, 1986; Tomas & Collier, 2002). According to Gamaroff (1997) acknowledged that “to attain CALP in a primary language, one must first know BICS in the first language. One of the causes of cognitive stagnation is the dearth or correct use of BICS in the home and faculty. A essential point is that a high stage of BICS in a specific language doesn’t essentially lead) a excessive stage of CALP in the identical language.” According to Singh (2013) stated that “mother tongue directions assist not only to develop high-level learning however the identical time, to helps to revitalize and protect languages and tradition that are on the verge of extinction.”

Learning and Acquisition

According to Crawford (1987) acknowledged that “what counts are the standard of second-language exposure, not the amount. A limited-English-proficient child placed in a “sink or swim” classroom primarily hears a noise. With contextual clues–such as having a lesson first taught within the mother language–English input becomes extra understandable.” According to Krashen (1989) said that “speaking per se does not cause language acquisition, however is a result of it, a attainable results of obtaining comprehensible enter. Language instructing should be based mostly on giving people messages they perceive the lesson.”

Psychological Impediments

According to Krashen (1989:p. 73,75) said that “we purchase language by understanding messages” and never by learning in a classroom.


According to Krashen (1989:p. seventy three, 75) stated that tutorial abilities realized in a single language need not be relearned when instruction shifts to a second language. Such historically is the case for mathematics and social research, as well as literacy skills. The full range of proficiencies concerned in the capability to learn appears to switch readily. A Lack of English proficiency(LEP) youngster who has kept up in mathematics through Spanish instruction, for example, will profit doubly when adequately learning the subject in a “sheltered English” classroom. He will however solely get extra mathematics; he’ll get more English” than an academic counterpart who is behind in mathematics.”

 Developmental Psychology

According to Skinner (1957) “argued that infants continue to produce and to study the properties of language which might be positively reinforced by the child’s caregivers and other members of the child’s social community”.

Behaviorist Theories

According to Skinner (1957) acknowledged that a “child who produces sounds adapts those sounds to the environment as a consequence of selective reinforcement by his or her social environment.” Mowrer (1960) explained that primary reinforcement occurs by way of listening to sounds in nice situations and doesn’t assume any sort of reward, secondary reinforcement is predicated on the child’s want to mimic, which is pushed by the satisfaction gained from the act of repetition.” According to (Fries 1945; Lado 1957) said that “existing buildings created within the studying of a primary language are employed in L 2 acquisition. It is taken that similar constructions in each languages facilitate acquisition in the second language because they are often transferred, whereas the presence of various constructions offers rise to more difficulties within the acquisition of the second language.”

Nativist Theories

According to Chomsky (1965) “reasonably argued that youngsters naturally have an innate grasp of how language works. Language enter prompts their inborn capability for learning a language; their studying is internally guided.” Oskaar (1987) acknowledged that “learning occurs without constructive reinforcement, that speaking is at all times uncontrolled by a stimulus and that the key idea of reinforcement can not explain the velocity of language acquisition and the steadiness of acquired which means. “Maternal language is specifically human and has a organic basis, that language acquisition is inconceivable with no language surroundings and that the inner preconditions contributed by the kid and the environmental factors” (Grimm and Weinert 2002: p. 537). According to Cummins (1984:p.196) “assumes that the second language is developed on the premise of an intact first language, that youngsters that don’t have an intact first language when they begin to be taught the second language will have difficulties in acquiring the second language and that competence in the second language depends on the extent of improvement of the primary language.”

According to Beller (2008:p.6) correctly stated that “if competence within the mom tongue has reached the CALP degree when studying begins with the second language, this competence can be transferred to the second language and the kid can participate effectively in classes held within the second language. “But if the CALP degree in the mother tongue has been unreached when a baby starts college, this not only has a adverse effect on school performance but the restricted language competence also influences the potential for fostering the second language”(Cummins, 1984). Barnes et al. (1983) discovered that the “quantity of the language used to address the child had constructive results on grammar and semantics.” Huttenlocher et al. (2002) showed that “children whose teachers used advanced sentences more frequently had been more advanced in using complex sentences than them whose educators correctly spoke in more coherent sentences.” Huttenlocher et al. (1991) “demonstrated that the considerable quantity of language enter possesses an incredibly important predictive pressure for the child’s potential acquisition of vocabulary.” Hart and Risley (1995), discovered that “sufficient quantity of verbal interaction between dad and mom and youngsters stay the simplest influence on the language development of the kid.”

In conclusion, Beller (2008:p.6) stated that “L 2 acquisition is a direct results of the learner’s mental talents and verbal setting, which permits the L 2 learner to accumulate communicative and linguistic elements of the goal language.”

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StudyScroll. (2021). A Critical Analysis of Namibia”s English-Only Language Policy. [Online]. Available at: https://studyscroll.com/a-critical-analysis-of-namibias-english-only-language-policy-essay [Accessed: 27-Sep-2022]

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