Research Key

The Trend in the Enrolment of Francophone in Anglophones Secondary Schools

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International: $20
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Qualitative research
Analytical tool
Descriptive statistics
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Globalization and the turn of the millennium created in the last decade in Cameroon a sort of awareness in the French-speaking Cameroonians’ minds on the need to learn English in order to cope with the evaluating world. This linguistic reconstruction is seen in urban areas where francophone inserted more and more in Anglophone schools to receive an Anglo-Saxon education.

This paper analyses some aspects of the new attachment to English in today Cameroon. The focus is on the motivations and the problems encounter by Francophone in their English learning process.

The case study and the evidence shown reinforce by statistics done on the field confine the fast-growing interest in the English medium. Findings show that although individuals have different motives, their main target remains the acquisition of English. The study concludes that despite the relevant challenges that they face, francophone Cameroonians are gradually coping with the linguistics requirements of the world and have understood that what will matter in Cameroon will be francophone bilingual citizens proficient in both national languages.



Background to the Study

English was introduced in Cameroon in the year 1918 when the British and French took over Cameroon territory. While % of the country is given to the British, % of the country is given to the French. This unequal repartition of the territory and the wish of Britons to promote indigenous languages resulted in a slow development of English in Cameroon. Britons did not expose the natives’ inhabitants to their language, sometimes even dissuading them to acquire it. According to Kachru (1986:22), while English language deficiencies made the colonized an object of ridicule, the acquisition of “native- like” competence made them suspect. Kachru thus echoes Christerphesen (1973:83) who asserts that to some British people, a non­native speaker whose English pronunciation sounds too British is considered to be intruding into British privacy:“it is as if an uninvited guest started making free of his hot’s possessions”. At the same time, French was growing within the country and was quickly spread all over the territory through education and religion. French Cameroon early as the fifties had high schools like lycee Leclerc in Yaounde, colleges modems which later developed in lycee joss de Douala et lycee de manengouba, whereas the first Anglophone government high schools were not created before the sixties. The neglect and indifference of the British to the educational problems of its colonies generated the United Nation’s reaction, which called for changes and more implications for the Britons.

The unequal repartition of the territory in Cameroon gave rise to diglossic bilingualism: English is an official language, under French hegemony which is the language by excellence, used in politics, education and to carry out affairs in official domains. English on the contrary is used by a handful of people usually called “les bamendas”, “les anglofous” or “les Anglophones la” to refers to the English population of Cameroon from the Northwest and Southwest regions. English as an official language is taught as a foreign language in the francophone educational system, from “la matemelle” to the obtainment of the diploma called “baccalauréat” in the class of “terminále”; so is french taught in the Anglophone system of education from Form one up to From five as a compulsory school subject.

Up until the late 1980s, the motivation of francophone to learn English was quite low and this was probably the fault of the lack of pressure from the government. But the admission of Cameroon in the commonwealth in 1995 and the recognition of English as a world language brought many changes. The most observable one is the tendency of francophone children to attend Anglophone schools and therefore receive an Anglo-Saxon education. The English language which was formerly attributed to the population of specific regions of Cameroon is gradually gaining more and more speakers. The language gradually weakened the French language monopoly to give rise to real state bilingualism where English and French will be used equally. The enrolment of francophone in Anglophone schools in a town like Douala and Yaounde might be a normal procedure, but the recent trend of francophone parents to send their children to English-medium secondary schools in Anglophone towns according to Mforteh(2006) indicates how desperately they want their children to be educated in English. «Most English-speaking schools in the cities are increasingly flooded by francophone pupils and students […].francophone parents […] insist on giving their children the best of Anglo-Saxon education”. (Cameroon Tribune [CT] 7312/3601, March 21, P.4): The need for francophone Cameroonians to cope with international needs is obvious.

The focus of this study is on the motivations of francophone Cameroonians in learning English. Is this new phenomenon a way for eastern Cameroon to reconcile with western Cameroon or is it only a selfish action which only aims at succeeding in the international world? The study will observe the reasons for the rush to study English in Cameroon and the consequences of such a phenomenon: observations will be made in secondary schools of the southwest region of Cameroon.

Statement of the Problem

Cameroon is a bilingual country that has English and French as official languages. Separated in ten regions, the Anglophone area represents 1/3 part of the total area of the country. Mostly used in formal situations (court, education, trade, economics), French has always been the dominant language.

From the twentieth century, it has been observed that English is gradually being taken into consideration by Francophone Cameroonians who involve themselves in the learning of the language. Their lovely and lovable French is not sufficient enough for them to achieve their dreams. Parents are aware of the fact that they had survived in a world where English was not needed; but that English is imperative to the success of their children in the national and international world. It is a call of concern to understand the sudden rush to study English in secondary schools of Cameroon. The massive presence of francophone in Anglophones secondary schools has actually been a point of concern as many people start investigating what spurs this mass linguistic migration. One can foresee that the new phenomenon will result in the anglophonization of Cameroon where the French will be relegated to the2nd position; whereas others might see this tendency as another way for the francophone population to fortify their domination.

Aims of the Study

Given that English has become a great subject of interest, this study aims at describing and analyzing the attitudes of francophone towards English and their motivations.

Objectives of the Study

The objectives of the study are to:

  • Describe the francophone perception of English
  • Analyze the motivations of francophone in their new challenge
  • Describe the problems encounter by francophone while learning English

Research Questions

  • What reasons drive Francophone into Anglophone secondary schools?
  • What problems do Francophone learners face? And at what level do they face them?
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