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Academic Paper

Title: The rush for English education in urban Cameroon: sociolinguistic implications and prospects
Author: Kelen Ernesta Fonyuy
Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: The growing demand for English in parts of Cameroon that were once firmly under French influence.
In the last decade, multilingual Cameroon has awoken to a new linguistic reality characterised by reconstructing linguistic identities in order to fit in the global space. This is seen in more and more urban Francophones pursuing English medium education and the Anglophones consolidating their identity alignment to the English language. From a sociolinguistic perspective, this paper evaluates the prominence and implications and prospects of this rush for English education in contemporary urban Cameroon. The case study method and cost-benefit analysis confirm that there is a fast growing interest in English medium education and the beginnings of English as an L1 in urban Cameroon. The result is a paradoxical sociolinguistic outcome: first of all, there is a shift by the majority Francophone group, who are shifting from a predominantly French medium to an English medium education, principally for economic benefits. Secondly, the Anglophones are increasingly shifting to English as an L1, without losing French as they live in basically French-speaking urban zones. This state of language shift implies that there will subsequently be bilingualism without diglossia in Cameroon's two official languages, and loss of the long-standing French language hegemony in Cameroon. At the same time, this shift threatens Cameroon's ancestral languages, forcing them increasingly into attrition and possibly endangerment.


This article appears IN English Today Vol. 26, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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