University of Oulu

Teachers’ perceptions about the medium of instruction in learning English as a second or foreign language in Ghanaian lower basic schools

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Author: Osei-Boateng, Sandra1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
Pages: 72
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : S. Osei-Boateng, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-06-16
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Lehtomäki, Elina
Reviewer: Uitto, Minna
Lehtomäki, Elina


In teaching a second or foreign language, there is often a dilemma regarding the most suitable language to use as a medium of instruction or interaction. The study of English as a Second Language (ESL) in Ghana is most often than not characterized by this dilemma. This is where educators are conflicted on whether to follow the official language policy that advocates for the use of the mother tongue instruction or strictly use the target language (in this case English) or opt for bilingual education. Research has shown that factors that ensure practical Second Language Acquisition (SLA) are comprehension, interaction and affective elements (attitudes and emotions). These are achievable with the presence of other factors like context, knowledge of the world, and extra-linguistic information (Krashen, 1981). It is critical for educators to consider these in order to be able to select the most suitable medium of instruction (MoI) in an ESL classroom in Ghana. The aim of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of using the target language (TL) and, or first language (L1) in an English language class by analyzing learners’ behaviours through classroom observations, coupled with teachers’ experiences and perceptions. The study uses the qualitative method and phenomenography to understand the perceived effectiveness of the use of the English Language as an MoI for the learning of the language, as compared to using the learners’ first language in teaching English and vice versa. Some Ghanaian ESL teachers in the lower basic school were purposefully selected for the study and interviews were conducted to obtain their thoughts regarding the language of instruction policy and teaching ESL. It was evident from the analysis that the teachers mostly used a bilingual medium of instruction rather than using the L1 as the dominant medium in the ESL classroom as they perceived bilingual education to be most effective in aching their teaching and learning outcomes. Teachers perceived that the L1 plays a significant role in ESL learning. It was suggested that the L1 translation offered learners an easy understanding of the English language, improved learners’ motivation to learn the language, and enhanced learners’ interaction as compared to the use of only the TL/L2. Interestingly, the teachers perceived that the language of instruction policy for suitable for the Ghanaian context, and they also suggested that there needs to be adequate Teaching and Learning Materials (TLMs) to make teaching and learning more effective. This is not a complete case study hence the results cannot be generalized as they are as subjective to the participant-teachers. Again, further research is needed to look at investigate the perception of other stakeholders in education such as headteachers, parents and students about the phenomenon.

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