English Became A World-Wide Language For Several Reasons. England Started Teaching English As a Foreign Language in Rwanda

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Teaching English As a Foreign Language in Rwanda

Rwanda recently announced that it will begin an official policy of teaching English in its schools in an attempt to raise the country’s international profile. Its colonial past had meant that French was the dominant foreign language in the African country with the majority of the population speaking the native Kinyarwanda. However, since the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Rwanda and France have been quick to blame each other for the massacre of 80,000 Tutsi, worsening relations between the two nations. Although this is not a given reason behind the switch from French to English, many believe that it plays a major role in the decision to eliminate French from the national curriculum.

Officially, the Rwandan government explains the decision as a way to strengthen ties between its English-speaking neighbors including Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. It will also help them in terms of economy and business as English is the main language in the world in terms of trade and commerce.

The sweeping reforms are set to begin shortly, with some teachers already receiving basic English language training. However, there is the problem that if the teachers do not know enough English to be able to teach their students, the reform will be useless.

As of January 2009, only 4,700 of Rwanda’s 31,000 primary school teachers had received training in English, and only 600 of 12,000 secondary school teachers had received the same. There is a growing demand for people qualified in Teaching English as a Foreign Language to travel to Rwanda and help raise the knowledge of the language among the 43,000 teachers in the country.

People from neighboring countries have moved to Rwanda to help teach English to the teachers, and the British Council has already sent TEFL teachers to the country. For independent English teachers there are many opportunities to start teaching English as a foreign language in the country, with the opportunity to learn new skills and immerse yourself in the culture of Rwanda.

The African country has already taken some steps to make English the second national language, as admission to the elite Institute of Science and Technology is in English and it is increasingly becoming the language of the national university. There are more government officials who speak English, although many are still more comfortable using French. But the dominant language remains Kinyarwanda as it is spoken by every Rwandan, making social cohesion easier after the tumult of the 1990s.

As teachers continue to be trained in the English language, the process of teaching classes in English instead of Kinyarwanda remains slow. Math and science will be two of the first subjects to be taught in the new language with more descriptive classes such as art and history still being taught in Kinyarwanda until the teachers are more fluent in English. From the first evidence it seems that children are quickly picking up the language and the success of the reform will depend on how many teachers can demonstrate a qualified knowledge of English.

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