Attitudes towards the Use of Indigenous African Languages as Languages of Instruction in Education: A Case of Zimbabwe

Wiseman Magwa


Zimbabwe is a multilingual nation with 16 officially recognised languages in the country’s constitution. The colonial dependency syndrome in Zimbabwe manifests itself in the continued use of a foreign language, English in all official business at the expense of indigenous languages spoken by over 90% of the population. The country therefore becomes a fertile ground for studies on language attitudes. It is against this background that the study sought to examine the attitudes of Zimbabweans towards the use of indigenous African languages as languages of instruction in schools, colleges and universities. A total of 1000 participants took part in the study comprising 200 teachers, 300 parents/guardians and 800 learners. Questionnaires, observations, document analysis and interviews were the main techniques used to collect data and the processing of the collected data was both qualitative and quantitative. The study revealed that English continues to be the prestige-laden language enjoying high while indigenous languages enjoy relatively low status. Study findings clearly show that the majority of the participants prefer English to be the medium of instruction in primary, secondary and tertiary education because it is a language that gives power and prestige. In conclusion, the author recommends a linguistic revolution and calls for a change in education policies so as to avoid the exclusion of the majority from public discourse, development and other issues of national significance.


Key terms: mother tongue; language attitude; official language; language policy; medium of instruction

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ISSN 2408-770X (Print Version)

ISSN 2408-6231 (Online Version)