English Language Instruction in Senegals Secondary Schools

Categories: English Language
About this essay

In Senegal English is taught as a foreign language, the law establishes that foreign languages will be taught from the secondary school. The focus of the new English curriculum is on communicative competence. The content to be covered has been divided into three categories: Procedural, Attitudinal, and Cross-curricular.

The Procedural content refers to ‘how to’ of the language: skills, processes, strategies and methods. The attitudinal content refers to the set of rules, values, virtues and attitudes, both personal and social that will underlie all the activities in the English classroom.

Cross-curricular content refers to topics or themes that do not belong to any special discipline but reflect the whole of the National Curriculum.

Taking account of all the provisions indicated in the process of teaching English, teachers in Senegal are facing a great challenge, turning theory into practice.

Until very recently, the teaching of English as a foreign language in Senegal would give primary emphasis on the reading and writing skills and secondary and/or little emphasis on listening and speaking skills.

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Since the introduction of communicative language teaching a few years ago to different levels of education, especially in secondary schools where English is taught as a compulsory subject, the listening and speaking skills have started enjoying some sort of status alongside the reading and writing skills, although the former ones are neither seriously taught nor formally tested.

Though the pronunciation is overlooked in the curriculum, material and even classroom activities, it does have an inseparable link to communicative through listening and speaking.

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Based on our experience as a learner as well as a teacher of English as a foreign language, our research paper is mainly concerned with beginners, I mean first form. The learners have their first contact with English as a foreign language. This phase is crucial for them, because they have to master the basis in English which overlaps in pronunciation. They learn new sounds which are unfamiliar to them, so they need a good training to practice their pronunciation.

Identification of the research issue

We remark firstly, the absence or exclusion of EFL pronunciation from the curriculum is indicative of the fact that the curriculum designer has deliberately or ignorantly overlooked its significance. Hence, the curriculum designer’s qualifications, expertise and honesty could be seriously questioned.

Secondly, the locally produced materials and/or the imported overseas ones used to teach / learn EFL do not usually embody pronunciation components and lessons. This indicates that the local materials developers are either unaware of the importance of pronunciation or not capable of designing pronunciation materials or just blindly confined to the syllabus devoid of pronunciation components.

Besides, the overseas materials incorporating no pronunciation tips and lessons attract our teachers and others concerned because many of them do not have any formal and adequate training in English phonetics and phonology as well as EFL pronunciation teaching.

Thirdly, as most teachers do not have useful strategies or techniques for teaching EFL pronunciation and as they do not know what strategies are appropriate when they meet a specific problem, they simply avoid pronunciation instruction in the classroom by employing shrewd tricks.

In our observation, teachers seldom teach the phonetics of English words and few of them are familiar with phonetic symbols. That being the case, it can hardly be expected that teachers would use the standard phonetics system to teach English pronunciation to their EFL students.
In Senegal, at secondary schools, an English pronunciation course or English pronunciation as a component in the English course is hardly given a place at all. What is worse, the teaching of English does not start with phonetic lesson.

We remark a weak foundation of phonetic symbols and words pronunciation. Some teachers in Senegal argue that English pronunciation is even not important at all. Moreover many of the teachers do not have any formal and adequate training in English phonetics and phonology as well as EFL pronunciation teaching. As a result, learners do not pronounce English properly.

Dalton says: ”we are comfortable teaching reading, writing, listening and to a degree, general oral skills, but when it comes to pronunciation we often lack the basis knowledge of articulatory phonetics to offer our students anything more than rudimentary advice such as, it sounds like this: uuuh.”

Thus, there is a noticeable gap in teaching pronunciation in Senegalese schools. Learners’ misperception and mispronunciation of English is quite obvious.

Misperceptions and mispronunciation of English sounds?Misperception and mispronunciation are errors in the perception and production of the phonological composition of language data. Based on my experience as a learner as well as a teacher of English as a foreign language, we notice the failure in the production of English pronunciation by Senegalese students. Because of the lack of knowledge of English sound the students speak English by marking English words with Wolof characters that bear similar sounds.

As a result, most Senegalese students are not sure of the correct pronunciation of English words when they come across them. For example we find that the Senegalese students have great difficulties with these sounds: / ?, ?, ?, ?, ð, ? /. They are often replaced either by another English sound consonant or by a similar Wolof one. For instance, / ? / in chalk is often pronounced as / c / in Wolof; / ? / in thank as / s /; / ð / in the as / z /; / ? / in shop as / s /; and / ? / in judge as / z /. Moreover under the influence of Wolof syllabic structure of ‘consonant vowel’, the students tend to insert vowels between English consonant clusters. Thus black is produced as /balak/.

Among other problems which encounter the students are the production of vowels, there is no difference to produce the followings sounds, /?, æ, ? /, they pronounce all of them as / a /, for example, /? / in butter ; /æ/ in fat ; and / ? / in car as / a /. Diphthongs may be a serious problem, since there are no diphthongs in Wolof.

The sounds/ei, ?i, u?, au, ?u, i?, ai, e? / are pronounced as following, /ei/ in pay as /ej/; /oi/ in boy as /?j/; /u?/ in poor as /uw?/; /au/ in cow as /aw?/; /?u/ in no as /?wu/; /i?/ in fear as /ij?/; /ai/ in life is as /aj/; /e?/ is bear as /ej/. Others difficulties to pronounce English sounds are the long and short vowels. The students tend to pronounce all vowels short. Thus the words sit and seat are pronounced the same with a short vowel /i /.

We can see now how difficult it is for Senegalese students to pronounce English properly. However most of these problems can be attributed to the differences in pronunciation between English and Wolof.

Pronunciation is very important in a language teaching, and students and teachers should pay close attention to pronunciation. ”Pronunciation should be taught in all foreign language classes through a variety of activities” (Scarcella ; Oxford, 1994).
The question is not whether pronunciation should be taught, but instead what should be taught in a pronunciation class and how it should be taught (Morley, 1991).

The current problem, then, is that most language teachers do not have useful strategies for teaching pronunciation, and they do not know what strategies are appropriate when they meet a specific problem.
Another part of the problem is that teachers are embarrassed because of this lack of instruction strategies.


Since pronunciation is neglected and/ or ignored by some teachers and rarely used communicatively in our classrooms activities, this research paper focuses on the strategies and techniques used by learner to achieve successful pronunciation in English as a foreign language.

This paper is designed for teachers who have had limited knowledge in the use of phonetics symbols and English sounds to acquire accurate pronunciation as well as phonetics knowledge so as to a model in teaching pronunciation. It is said that without adequate pronunciation skills the learner’s ability to communicate is severely limited. Morley (1991) believes that not attending to a student’s pronunciation needs,… is an abrogation of professional responsibility’ (Morley, 1991, 489.)

The teachers need to integrate pronunciation with communicative activities, to give the students situations to ‘develop’ their pronunciation by listening and speaking. The pronunciation teaching shows there is a consensus that a learner’s pronunciation in a foreign language needs to be taught in conjunction with communicative practices for the learner to be able to communicate effectively with native speakers.
Thus, the goal of pronunciation teaching is to allow students to speak fluently and to be confident.

Cite this page

English Language Instruction in Senegals Secondary Schools. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/in-senegal-english-is-taught-a-25227-new-essay

English Language Instruction in Senegals Secondary Schools
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