Attitudes towards Learning English as a Second Language in Primary Schools in Mauritius.
Steen, M.S.J. van
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Mauritius is a multilingual island in the Indian Ocean with English as the official state language and language of instruction at schools. However, the common languages on the island are French and Creole, so most children have to acquire English as their second language in primary school. To successfully finish primary school and become eligible for enrolment into secondary school, children have to pass school exams. This poses problems for many children who fail the exam because of their deficit in English. This study analyses the attitudes of children, parents and teachers towards learning English as a second language and as an instruction language. Mixed-methods were used; Questionnaires were filled out by children (n = 286), parents (n = 17) and teachers (n = 23) and interviews were held with children (n = 9), parents (n = 4), teachers (n = 11) and MIE students (n = 4). Children, parents and teachers had a positive attitude towards English because they feel it is very important for children’s career perspectives. However, children and teachers experienced pressure from the current curriculum with a demanding syllabus and important exams. Teachers experienced the current system as too difficult for children, especially considering the limited parental support. There is no time for context-embedded instructions to contribute to acquisition of English as a second language. Therefore, revision of the current curriculum and parental support are required to improve children’s second language acquisition.