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French in Lesotho schools forty years after independence
Most independent African states are now, like Lesotho, about forty years old. What has become of foreign languages such as French that once thrived under colonial rule albeit mostly in schools targeting non-indigenous learners? In Lesotho French seems to be the preserve of private or “international” schools. Can African learners in a developing country such as Lesotho, most of whom attend public or government schools, take to a European foreign language in a world where knowledge of key foreign language is quite often crucial? This paper will argue that learners' attitude to this question is conditioned by the official raison d'être of the subject as well as learners' awareness of it. The presence of French in Lesotho will be studied in light of Dabène's (1994) theory of “xénité” where it will be argued that the choice of a language by a prospective learner or institution is a function of the perceived distance separating the learner or institution from the target language. The paper will then make recommendations for a more successful approach to the teaching of French in Lesotho, chief among which is the introduction of French as an optional subject in government schools.
Lwati: A Journal of Contemporary Research Vol. 4 () 2007: pp.88-100