The place of English, foreign languages in Zim

14 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
The place of English, foreign languages in Zim Zimbabwe is a multilingual country with over 16 languages including English, Shona, Ndebele and a number of other indigenous languages


Langton Chikaka

THIS paper explores the place of English and foreign languages in Zimbabwe in the light of Government policy, basic skills required to teach these, and the benefits of incorporating foreign languages in the school curriculum.

It also suggests and unpacks best practices in teaching foreign languages.

It is a fact that Zimbabwe is a multilingual country with over 16 languages including English, Shona, Ndebele and a number of other indigenous languages.

The primary language used in business, education, Government and tourism is English, which serves as a lingua franca for communication among people from different linguistic backgrounds.

Apart from English, a significant number of languages are spoken in Zimbabwe by immigrant communities.

These include, inter alia, Greek, Portuguese, German and Chinese.


Some of our schools offer French, and this is a reflection of our country’s global connections and economic ties.

Policy on foreign languages in Zimbabwe

The Government has taken the following steps to promote the teaching of foreign languages in secondary school.

The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education may authorise the teaching and learning of foreign languages in terms of the Education Act as amended.

English Language is a compulsory subject from primary to secondary level.


However, in respect of other foreign languages, the teachers feel that while Government has done so much for English Language teaching, this is not so with other foreign languages.

The language teachers are clamouring for an inclusive language policy to ensure that foreign language teaching is inclusive and accessible for all learners, notwithstanding their background and ability.

By and large, if foreign languages are incorporated in the curriculum, a language policy reform is quintessential.

Government can and should review and revise the language policy to prioritise foreign languages teaching.

Government can and should allow schools to integrate foreign languages into the existing curriculum.

Government can provide the teachers with foreign language training, resources and support so they stay updated on best practices and language teaching methodologies and can also ensure adequate funding for teaching materials, text books and technology.

Why incorporate foreign languages in the school curriculum

Incorporating foreign languages in the school curriculum has substantial and life changing benefits. The transformative advantages are, but not limited to:

Learning foreign languages provides a window into new culture, fostering empathy and global citizenship;

Foreign language skills enable learners to connect with diverse backgrounds to enhance personal and professional relationships;

Language learning as informed by research, improve memory, problem solving and multitasking abilities, boasting overall cognitive development; Proficiency in a foreign language opens doors to new academic and career paths, including international studies, diplomacy and global business.

Best practices in the teaching of foreign languages

In order to teach foreign languages successfully, the following are practices for best results:


The teacher surrounds learners with language through authentic materials, videos and interactions;

Adopting the communication approach

The teacher focuses on developing the learner’s ability to communicate effectively;

Task-based learning

The learners are encouraged to complete real life tasks promoting language use and promoting problem solving.

Cultural Integration

For any mastery of a language, the teacher should incorporate cultural knowledge and awareness to enhance language understanding;

Technology Integration

In this modern day and era, teachers should utilise digital tools, apps and resources to enhance learning.

Use of multimedia resources

Incorporating various media, such as videos, podcasts and images can improve learner’s grasp of language and proficiency.

The above should not be taken as prescriptive or exhaustive.


Teachers are always encouraged to use best alternatives at their disposal.


By incorporating foreign languages into the curriculum, learners gain a valuable skill set, broader perspectives and a competitive age in an interconnected world, language learning promotes global understanding, tolerance and cooperation.


Foreign languages skills grant access to a wealth of information, literature and perspectives previously inaccessible.

Speaking a foreign language enables learners to navigate and appreciate foreign countries more fully broadening their travel experiences.


In a globalised world, language skills give learners a competitive age in the job milieu and enhances their employability.


Langton Chikaka is the provincial head in charge of English and foreign languages Manicaland Province.


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