Ideologies and methodologies in language and literacy instruction in postcolonial Eritrea

Martha Wagar Wright, University of Pennsylvania


While there is a sizeable literature on classroom discourse and interaction in U.S. and other Western settings, relatively little research has been published on beginning literacy instruction in the developing world. The issue which the present study intends to investigate is the practical implementation of theoretical models of second-language literacy, in this instance a curriculum designed largely around then-popular Western models of English-language instruction in a multilingual curriculum, known collectively as Communicative Language Teaching. Within a framework which considers the social, cultural, and historical contexts of language and literacy teaching and learning, how was the 1994 English curriculum for Eritrea being implemented in the classroom, at the beginning level? The analysis centers on discerning points of tension, of convergence and divergence, between policy and practice, and determining what the underlying issues were. Findings of the study suggest that the radical approach of the 1994 English curriculum resulted in significant ideological and methodological conflicts for teachers in the classroom. The primary determinants of teachers' implementation of this curriculum were their beliefs regarding: the fundamental processes of language and literacy acquisition; students' abilities, limitations, and attitudes; the constraints of the material and social environment; and appropriate student-teacher interaction in the classroom. The findings in turn suggest the need for research into language in education which will recognize the significant impact of the social, cultural, and historical contexts on educational reform. In addition, a reorientation in research is also required which will consider traditional practices and beliefs as resources rather than problems to be eradicated.

Subject Area

Language arts|Linguistics

Recommended Citation

Wright, Martha Wagar, "Ideologies and methodologies in language and literacy instruction in postcolonial Eritrea" (2002). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3043978.