The Classroom Language of Primary School English Teachers in Ethiopia: A Study in Communication Strategies

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Addis Ababa University


The purpose of this study is basically to identify the communication strategies used by Ethiopian second cycle primary school teachers of English to compensate for the linguistic deficiencies that they encounter while conducting their lessons. It aims at identifying the strategies in their immediate context of language functions. This makes the task of investigation double-pronged. Both communication strategies and language functions are the focus of the investigation. In addition, the study attempts to explore whether the use of communication strategies has any relationship with the lesson topics, and attempts to discover a pattern that shows the link among the three features of the classroom language of the teacher: lesson topic, language functions and communication strategies. Four government second cycle primary schools were selected for the study. From the twelve teachers working in these schools eight were selected and their performance was recorded while they were teaching English in the classroom. The lessons so recorded were then transcribed and analyzed in order to identify the communication strategies in the context of language functions. While the communication strategies were identified on the basis of the model of classification developed by Faerch and Kasper (1983, 1984), language functions were analyzed on the basis of the system of analysis developed by Sinclair and Coulthard (1975, 1992). Both systems of analysis were used with slight modifications made by the researcher. The results of the analysis indicated that the teachers employed 11 types of communication strategies classified under two broad categories: achievement strategies (99.4%) and reduction strategies (0.6%). The nine types of achievement strategies that were identified are: language switch (73.1%), repeating (10.1%), paraphrasing (8.7%), reading from textbook/blackboard (2.3%), writing on blackboard (2.0%), literal translation (1.4%), word coinage (0.9%), non-verbal (0.6%), and appeal for assistance (0.3%). In the second broad category of reduction strategies two types of strategies were identified, namely: topic avoidance and meaning abandonment, which occurred only once each. These strategies were employed by two of the teachers.



Language of Primary School English Teachers in Ethiopia