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Bookmark and Share Paper 2576

A Second or Foreign Language? Unveiling the Realities of English in Rural Kisii, Kenya
Martha M. Michieka
206-216 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This paper argues against the conventional wisdom of continuing to assume that English, the co-official language of Kenya, is a second language to most Kenyans, even those in remote rural contexts, and therefore a suitable choice as a language of instruction. Using data from rural Kisii-speaking Kenya, the study argues that based on the limited availability of English in the media, at home, in schools and in other public domains, most rural Kisii residents, and by extension residents of most other Kenyan rural communities, cannot continue to be viewed as speakers of English as a second language (ESL), but rather as speakers of English as a foreign language (EFL). This finding demands a re-evaluation of several matters pertaining to language policy and language use, with specific emphasis on the medium of instruction and learning.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference on African Linguistics: African Languages and Linguistics Today
edited by Eyamba G. Bokamba, Ryan K. Shosted, and Bezza Tesfaw Ayalew
Table of contents
Printed edition: $290.00