By Joyce Bedeley:
Dr. Regina Oforiwaa Ceaser who is the Head of Languages at the Department of Colleges of Education at the University of Winneba has bemoaned the lack of student interest in the study of Ghanaian dialects as a subject in the schools, especially Dangme.
Dr. Ceaser noted these when she appeared as guest on Rite FM’s ‘Community Watch’ with Austin Ofori Addo on Saturday. Dr. Ceaser while decrying the situation noted that as Ghanaians, we need our local languages at homes, offices and the general society.
According to her, the Dangme language has many dialects but with only slight differences amongst them. ‘The most important thing, however, is to understand each of these dialects for effective communication and empowerment.’ Madam Ceaser added.
She stressed that the local dialect should be taught right from the basic schools to the tertiary. Drawing an analogy to buttress her point, she alluded that students irrespective of what subjects are under consideration (mathematics, science or any other subject) first subject the topic under a mental analysis in their native language before coming out with an answer in the English language. This, according to Miss Caesar is an indication that the local language has a strong identity with people.
Dr. Caesar then added that, in the University of Winneba for instance, one has a choice to select a local language in addition to any language one wishes to study in the study of languages and which can fetch them their degrees.
Mr. Daniel Tetttey Angmor, also a Languages teacher at the Klo Agogo Senior High School who was also contributing to the show revealed that during the colonial era, the foreign missionaries trained local people whom they employed to help in the writing of the Word of God and then spreading it to the local people.
‘They did not end there as they went on to ensure that even the local languages are learnt and written by the local people,’ Mr. Angmor added. ‘So if even foreigners appreciate that the learning of the local dialects is important and needs to be learnt then why should we stop learning it?’ he queried, adding that the local dialect is very important.
He also observed that their field experience points to the fact that most students communicate better in their mother tongue.
Mr. Daniel added that, the study of the local languages comes with many benefits including providing employment opportunities including teaching, journalism, authorship, etc. He was however worried that most students do not appreciate the language and feel uncomfortable speaking it in public.
He however pointed out that many young people shy away from the local languages due to the practice of interpreting local events into foreign languages at public functions because a foreigner is present. This, Mr. Angmor added is never done anywhere ‘because others appreciate their language better than we do.’