Postcoloniality and English: Exploring language policy and the politics of development in Tanzania

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Abstract

This article presents a case study of educational language policy in postcolonial Tanzania. Drawing on qualitative and quantitative data collected between 1996 and 2001 on Mount Kilimanjaro, this longitudinal study of secondary school students' lives after graduation sheds light on the relationship between language and development. The profound sense of economic hardship among these graduates was tempered by their optimism that their knowledge of English would eventually help them find employment or opportunities for further education. Current economic conditions in the country appear to play an important role in shaping secondary school graduates' identity as educated persons who know English and who can find ways to cope under these challenging circumstances. The use of the term postcoloniality throughout the article emphasizes the economic domain of everyday life in present-day Tanzania, but an examination of the cultural dimensions of students' support for English reveals the interconnection between the materialist and nonmaterialist aspects of language policy. The study has implications for ESL practitioners and for applied linguistics research in the areas of bilingualism, world Englishes, and language policy in postcolonial countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-397
Number of pages25
JournalTESOL Quarterly
Volume36
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002

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