Whose English in Kenyan schools? A case for a nativized variety
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The question, "whose English in Kenyan schools?" would generally elicit two polarised responses. Language planners and some educators would not hesitate to give the British Standard as the variety taught in our schools while researchers sensitive to the local sociolinguistic reality would argue that indeed the variety of English taught and used in our schools is significantly different from the British Standard variety. The existence of varieties of the English Language, differentfrom the native speakers' varieties, is now generally accepted by linguists (see Bamgbose, 1982; Kachru, 1985, 1987; Bailey & Gorladi 1982). In recognition of this fact and its implications for the teaching of English, there has been an outcry for the adoption of local varieties of English in the education systems of particular geo-political regions (Schmied, 1990; Platt & Weber, 1984). Scholars with this persuasion insist that when the localised norm is recognised by contextualizing the teaching materials tofit the local sociocultural situation, the theoretical norm and actual language behaviour show less discrepancy (Kachru; 1990). In the Kenyan situation it is clear that "local creative writing" has been incorporated into the mainstream literary teaching materials in the education system. However, the internal local norms of correctness and appropriateness with regard to either pronunciation, grammar, or semantics have never been seriously considered, acknowledged or publicly recognised in the same way as has happened in local creative writing. This creates problems for English language teachers who are not only nonnative speakers of English but are also expected to harmonise the disparity between the nativized language of creative writers and that of grammar books, in the teaching of English. This paper, in examining English Language education in Kenya appraises the relationship between the theoretical norm and the actual language behaviour, and then discusses the advantages of teaching and examining a nativized educated variety of English.