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Written English Problems Faced by Francophone Students as Learners of English as a Foreign Language: The Case of Level 300 Bilingual Students in the University of Buea

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Qualitative research
Analytical tool
Descriptive statistics
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This work set out to investigate written English problems faced by francophone students as learners of English as a foreign language. The case study was those in level 300 of the Department of English and French at the University of Buea.

Data was collected through the use of a questionnaire, observation and a proficiency test administered to 45 students from that Department. Data were analyzed using tables.

The results revealed that French influences the way Francophone EFL learners write in English. It was also realized that the English vowel system and the division of these vowels into various sub group’s accounts for the poor level of performance in writing by these Francophone students.

It was also realized that the presence of some punctuation marks coupled with their similarities in use hinders the production of good write-ups by these students.

This work solemnly recommends that Francophone’s should be introduced to the English language in the early stages of their education. It also recommends that teachers should give take-home assignments to help improve the writing skills of these EFL learners.



The English language in recent years has gained an international status that it is considered as prestigious language. It has been introduced into various domains in life such as technology, science, the internet etc. This has brought about an increase in the number of those who want to be recognised as speakers of the language.

In Cameroon, the English language is taught in Francophone schools as a subject because of these, Francophones consider the language as a foreign language. With this belief, they face a lot of difficulties studying the language. This work, therefore, seeks to present the problems faced by Francophone students in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Buea.

Background to Study

After the First World War, Cameroon became a “mandate B” territory under the League of Nations. Britain took the smaller share of what has been termed “Southern Cameroon”. Today, Cameroon is made up of ten regions; two of these regions constitute English speaking Cameroonians while eight regions constitute the French-speaking Cameroonians known as the Francophones.

English and French, therefore, have been recognised as the two official languages used in Cameroon. Following Cameroon’s reunification in 1961, she became the second bilingual country in the world. English and French became the two official languages. English was therefore introduced into various domains including education.

The Linguistic Situation in Cameroon

An important aspect of the linguistic situation in Cameroon is the rivalry between English and French. Because of the exoglossic language policy in Cameroon, English and French being a colonial linguistic legacy are used for official purposes like communication as well as all levels of formal education.

Apart from these two official languages, there exist indigenous languages, a lingua franca and a quasi Pidgin English (Achimber 2005). The reason given for the rise of this lingua franca is that there is no language that cuts across the national territory.

In Cameroon, those in the North speak Arabic, Fulfulde, Kanuri and Hausa, those in the central part of the country speak Beti, Bulu, Ewondo while those in the North West speak the Bamum, Ghomala, Mungaka etc.

In Cameroon, children are first introduced to their mother tongue. Their first contact with the English language and French is when they are in primary school. Their aim here is to learn languages which act as tools for their education and other official functions in the country. Cameroon in this sense is practising the policy of official bilingualism (Chumbow, 1998)

Cameroon has ten administrative regions, eight of which are French-speaking. Due to this unequal distribution in the number of users of these languages French has basically become the language of power and leadership. The dominating situation of the language has given rise to what is known as the marginalisation of Anglophones who in most cases are treated as second class citizens.

English and French are not the only languages in the country. There are also two hundred and seventy-nine (279) mother tongues and four languages reported to be extinct (Grimes, 2000).

These mother tongues are used by 14.7 (fourteen points seven) million people (UN Country Report, 2001) giving an approximate average of 52.00 speakers per language. Pidgin on the other hand develops under certain socio-economic conditions such as when several groups that speak different languages do not have a common language.

Research Questions

The research questions of this write up are as follows;

-What are those aspects of written English that pose problems to Level 300 francophone students in the Department of English and French?

– What are the causes of these problems?

Objectives of the study

The main aim of this work is to investigate the problems faced by francophone students in Level 300, Department of English and French as learners of English as a foreign language.

Written English Problems Faced by Francophone Students as Learners of English as a Foreign Language: The Case of Level 300 Bilingual Students in the University of Buea

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