Teaching a Standard Variety of English or a Local Standard: The Case of Cameroon
The linguistic and cultural legacies of British colonization include, among other things, the emergence of several varieties of English shaped by the social, ecological, cultural, historical, political and linguistic realities of the different places where the language was introduced. In postcolonial settings, the growth of new nations was inextricably bound with identity construction in the use of English, both as a symbol of independence from the colonial power and a marker of identity from other varieties of English. Looking at English language teaching and testing, however, that quest for identity is easily silenced; there is still a strong dominance of the standard language ideology, with British and American varieties providing norms for teachers all over the world. This paper investigates major controversies surrounding TESOL practice and highlights the dilemma faced by the non-native English teacher in the process of choosing a variety of English for the language classroom. Taking Cameroon as case study, the paper shows that it is not plausible to teach only one variety of English in that country, be it British, American or Cameroon English. While English multi-dialectalism in Cameroon requires exposing learners to many varieties of English, teachers can reach that goal by taking advantage of the linguistic creativity found in literary texts.
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