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Coping with Learning through a Foreign Language in Higher Education in Rwanda
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Adult Learning. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overarching aims of this thesis are to investigate how students in higher education in Rwanda experience learning through the medium of a foreign language, mainly English, and the strategies they employ in order to successfully complete their university studies during a period of both language and educational change. Taking a sociocultural perspective, the thesis subscribes to a qualitative research design. Interviews were used in order to gain in-depth understanding of how higher education students reflect on, handle and cope with learning through a foreign language. Video and audio recorded interactions of students’ formal and informal group discussions were used to capture some of the seen but unnoticed linguistic and communicative details that might be of interest in shedding light on aspects related to learning in a foreign language. Four empirical studies show that students face different challenges in using the newly adopted language of learning and teaching. They are, however, aware of the fact that the globalisation process and dissolution of national boundaries may create new opportunities and are therefore willing to upgrade their English in order to cope with the new academic situation. Findings show that active use of multiple languages, although time consuming, has great potential to facilitate learning, thus emphasizing the complementarities rather than the exclusion of languages used in Rwanda. Also, teacher and student initiated group discussions have the potential to promote knowledge construction in content subjects as students afford a context for confident participation. Although the mother tongue is not officially recognised as language of instruction in higher education, it plays a mediating role for the negotiation of meaning of domain specific content through responsible code switching and translanguaging.

Abstract [sv]

Det övergripande syftet för denna avhandling är att undersöka hur studenter inom högre utbildning i Rwanda erfar att lära på ett främmande språk, i huvudsak engelska, och vilka strategier de använder sig av för att lyckas genomföra sina universitetsstudier i en tid av förändring av både undervisningsspråk och undervisningen i sig. Avhandlingen tar sin utgångspunkt i ett sociokulturellt perspektiv och en kvalitativ forskningsdesign. Intervjuer genomfördes för att få fördjupad förståelse för hur studenterna reflekterar över och hanterar problemet med att lära på ett främmande språk. Video- och audioinspelade interaktioner av studenternas formella och informella gruppdiskussioner användes för att fånga och analysera språkliga och kommunikativa detaljer som förekommer men ofta förbises eller tas för givna. Fyra empiriska studier visar att studenterna möter olika utmaningar när de måste använda ett nyligen introducerat främmande språk i undervisningen och i olika lärandesituationer. De är emellertid medvetna om att globalisering och upplösning av nationella gränser kan skapa nya möjligheter och är därför villiga att förbättra sin engelska för att kunna klara av den nya undervisningssituationen. Analyserna visar också att aktiv användning av en mångfald av språk, även om det är tidsödande, har stor potential att underlätta lärande och på så sätt betonas den komplementerande snarare än den exkluderande synen på språkanvändning i Rwanda. Dessutom visar det sig att diskussioner i grupp initierade av både lärare och studenter har en potential att stödja konstruktionen av kunskap inom akademiska ämnen eftersom studenterna skapar en tillitsfull miljö där de är trygga att delta. Studierna visar också att trots att modersmålet inte är officiellt erkänt som undervisningsspråk spelar det en medierande roll i framförhandlandet av innehållet inom olika ämnesområden genom olika former av gränsöverskridande språkande där alla språk som studenterna har tillgång till används.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2013. , 96 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 173
Keyword [en]
Higher education, foreign instructional language, Rwanda, students’ learning, translanguaging, globalisation
Keyword [sv]
Högre utbildning, undervisning på främmande språk, Rwanda, lärande, gränsöverskridande språkande, globalisering
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-90165ISBN: 978-91-7519-640-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-90165DiVA: diva2:612253
Public defence
2013-04-18, I:101, Hus I, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (English)
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-03-20 Created: 2013-03-20 Last updated: 2013-03-25Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Negotiating meaning in multilingual group work: A case study of higher education in Rwanda
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Negotiating meaning in multilingual group work: A case study of higher education in Rwanda
2013 (English)In: International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, ISSN 1367-0050, E-ISSN 1747-7522, Vol. 16, no 4, 436-450 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this paper, we investigate how students handle the linguistic diversity they are exposed to during group-work sessions at a university in Rwanda. The data consist of five audio-recorded group-work sessions initiated by a lecturer in a management course. The data were analysed drawing on theories relating to code-switching and learning in multilingual settings. Our findings show that active use of multiple languages, although time consuming, has great potential to facilitate learning, thus emphasizing the complementarities rather than exclusion of languages used in Rwanda.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2013
Keyword
Higher education; multilingual group work; code-switching; language complementarities; translanguaging
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-90161 (URN)10.1080/13670050.2012.695771 (DOI)000320498800003 ()
Available from: 2013-03-20 Created: 2013-03-20 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
2. Coping with English as Language of Instruction in Higher Education in Rwanda
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Coping with English as Language of Instruction in Higher Education in Rwanda
2013 (English)In: International Journal of Higher Education, ISSN 1927-6044, Vol. 2, no 2, 1-12 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The present study examines strategies that multilingual university students in Rwanda use in order to successfully deal with complex academic material offered through the medium of English, a foreign language. The reported strategies emerged from group work discussions and interviews with students in the faculty of Economics and Management at a University in Rwanda. The data were analyzed thematically. Findings reveal that students have multiple coping strategies that enable them to complete academic tasks given through the medium of English. One of the prominent strategies and practices is the successful use of other languages at their disposal to mediate cognitively demanding academic tasks. Although other spoken languages are not officially recognised as media of instruction in higher education, they play a mediating role in content learning through responsible code switching and translanguaging.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sciedu Press, 2013
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-90162 (URN)10.5430/ijhe.v2n2p1 (DOI)
Available from: 2013-03-20 Created: 2013-03-20 Last updated: 2014-11-12Bibliographically approved
3. Peer interaction and learning: A study of higher education students initiated group work activity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Peer interaction and learning: A study of higher education students initiated group work activity
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study investigates the mediating role of students’ initiated study groups. Specifically, the present study looks at how students at a university in Rwanda construct knowledge of their content subjects, through negotiation of meaning in student initiated group work. Interaction Analysis is used to analyse students’ naturally occurring verbal and non-verbal communication. Thirty second year students in accounting option participated in this study. They were video taped while completing an exercise on consignment. Findings suggest that with regard to aspects related to participation and organization, collaborative negotiation of meaning and knowledge transfer, participants in students initiated informal group work activity engage in negotiation of meaning around the topic under discussion, taking each other’s perspective or an opposing view. Negotiating meaning and solving the problems they come across seem to be a collective endeavour towards a shared understanding of the problem under consideration. The study concludes that student initiated group discussion have the potential to promote knowledge construction in content subjects and affords confident students participation.

Keyword
Peer interaction, collaborative learning, knowledge construction, group work, higher education, informal learning groups, active learning, group dynamics, Rwanda
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-90163 (URN)
Available from: 2013-03-20 Created: 2013-03-20 Last updated: 2013-03-20Bibliographically approved
4. Higher Education Students’ Reflections on Learning in Times of Academic Language Shift
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Higher Education Students’ Reflections on Learning in Times of Academic Language Shift
2012 (English)In: International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, ISSN 1931-4744, Vol. 6, no 2Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article deals with the current debate on the use of English as the only medium of instruction in contexts where it is a second or foreign language. More specifically, it investigates Rwandan students’ reflections on using English as the sole medium of instruction in their everyday higher education academic activities. The study is mainly based on individual interviews from students at a University in Rwanda, where the language in education policy has changed considerably over the last decade. The findings suggest that students face different challenges and difficulties in using the newly adopted language of learning and teaching. They are, however, aware of the globalisation process and dissolution of national boundaries and are willing to upgrade their English in order to cope with the new academic situation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Statesboro: Georgia Southern University, 2012
Keyword
Higher education, reflections, academic language shift, English medium of instruction, academic literacy, globalisation
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-90164 (URN)
Available from: 2013-03-20 Created: 2013-03-20 Last updated: 2013-03-20Bibliographically approved

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Kagwesage, Anne Marie

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