Outcome of Carnegie/Caledonian PhD Scholarships round 2020
Project Title: Language use and language attitudes in Malawian universities
Understanding people’s attitudes towards language plays an important role in creating and implementing successful language policies. Malawi is a multilingual country with around sixteen Malawian languages spoken and in which English is treated as the official language. A recent change to language-in-education policy in Malawi, announced in 2014, states that English should be the only language used in education. These recent changes to policy have renewed debate on which languages are suitable for use in education. My research focuses on university level education and investigates how the languages in Malawi co-exist in the domain of tertiary education. This involves, through recordings and observation, finding out what languages are used in different contexts in Malawian universities and what these languages are used for. Crucially my research also involves interviews and focus groups with students and staff, to find out what they think about the languages in their country and what language or languages they think are most suitable for use in university education. My initial findings suggest that Malawian universities are multilingual environments and, while English is viewed as the most suitable language for use in university, 50% of my participants would like to see a multilingual language policy implemented.
Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship
Field: English Language
University: University of Glasgow