Tanzanian university students' motivation for studying Kiswahili as an academic subject.
The teaching and learning of indigenous African languages in most African countries has been plagued by various challenges. Dwindling student enrolment rates have been cited as one of these challenges. This has been attributed to a lack of initial learning motivation among the students. Motivation can be understood as a human compulsion and intensity to engage in certain behaviour. However, in Tanzania the number of students opting to study Kiswahili language as an academic subject at university level surpasses by far that of other taught languages, mainly English, French, and Arabic and in recent years, Chinese and Korean. This is apart from the fact that, when compared to these other foreign languages, Kiswahili is regarded very negatively among Tanzanians. There is nevertheless an overall lack of evidence of empirical research that has been conducted to ascertain this trend. It is against this backdrop that this study was conducted. The study was informed by the Self-determination Theory (SDT) as proposed by Edward L. Deci & Richard M. Ryan (1985, 2000). The theory proposes that human beings engage in various behaviours as they seek autonomy, competence, and relatedness. These constructs can cause behaviours to be intrinsically or extrinsically motivated, as well as amotivation. Further, the SDT proposes that due to various social-environmental factors, it is very unusual for adult individuals to experience intrinsic motivation. As a result, the SDT proposes four types of extrinsic motivation, which are external regulation, introjected regulation, identified regulation, and integrated regulation. Depending on the internalization of behaviour, these types of motivation lie in a continuum, the external regulation being the least form of motivation and integrated regulation being the strongest form of motivation close to the intrinsic motivation. This study, which was conducted at the Institute of Kiswahili Studies of the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, used the qualitative research design. It employed ethnographic and action research designs to solicit data from the participants. Convenience and purposive were the main methods of sampling. The sample included third year and postgraduate students studying Kiswahili as an academic subject. It also included Kiswahili instructors. Semi-structured interviews and questionnaires were the primary methods of data collection. In addition, observation and document review were the supplementary methods of data collection. The study was conducted to fulfil three research objectives. The first objective was to investigate the reasons for university students to choose to study Kiswahili as an academic subject. The second objective was to explore the extent to which initial students‘ motivation to study vi Kiswahili as an academic subject is maintained during the three years of degree study at university level. The third objective was to examine the role of the universities in motivating students to choose to study Kiswahili as an academic subject. To achieve these research objectives, three research questions were answered. The first question wanted to establish why Tanzanian university students chose to study Kiswahili as an academic subject. The second question was to understand to what extent Tazanian university students‘ initial motivation to study Kiswahili as an academic subject was retained throughout the three years of degree study. The third question wanted to know what role universities played in motivating students to choose to study the Kiswahili language as an academic subject. Overall, the study found that university students chose to study Kiswahili as an academic subject for numerous reasons, the most significant being patriotism, Kiswahili language affection, Kiswahili as a national identity, employment prospects, access to higher education students‘ loans, pressure from the significant others, a belief Kiswahili language courses are easy, language of instruction, and as academic continuation. These reasons suggested various forms of extrinsic motivation ranging from external to identified motivation. Patriotism, Kiswahili language affection, and Kiswahili as a national identity characterized both introjected and identified regulation forms of motivation. Employment prospects, access to higher education students‘ loans, and pressure from the significant others characterized external regulation forms of motivation. Amotivation was represented by the factors such as a belief that Kiswahili language courses are easy, language of instruction, and an academic continuation. There were several implications of the research findings for the teaching and learning of indigenous African languages in African countries. These included a need to strengthen teaching and learning of indigenous African languages in lower levels of education, and integrating African language courses with degree programmes that offer assured employment opportunities. Another implication was integrating occupational language skills into core curriculum. Another implication was the need to redesign and institute initiatives to reverse students‘ negative attitudes towards indigenous African languages. The last implication was the need for the governments and institutions of higher learning in Africa to provide financial support to students studying indigenous African languages.
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