Similar syllabuses - Different didactics and different results
This study focuses on how the syllabuses of English and didactics of English as a Foreign Language impact the performance of 13-15 year - old students in Sweden and Cameroon. The execution of English lessons was observed and the syllabuses for English of both countries were compared. Further, the teachers were given questionnaires on their educational background and teaching methods. The students’ general performance in English was estimated from their performance in different language skills. I constructed a test for examining the students’ performance in writing, reading, speaking and listening. In the general performance of English, the students in one Swedish school reached better results than the students in the other three schools. In the Writing test, no school had a high scoring profile but most students reached the lowest pass grade or failed. In the Reading test, the students of one school in Sweden and one in Cameroon performed better than the students of the other schools. In the Speaking test, the Swedish students performed better than the Cameroonian students. The students in one Swedish school performed better in the Listening test than the students in the other schools. There are several explanations for the differences in the performance of English between Swedish and Francophone Cameroonian students such as that the Cameroonian classes are about twice as large as the Swedish classes, the lack of resources to provide extra support for the students (e.g. internet, computers, books), and a great difference in the execution of the syllabuses. The gap that exists between the syllabus of English and its execution in some Francophone Cameroonian classrooms makes one assume that making a pass in the BEPC examination contradicts the syllabus of English for the Francophone Cameroonian Secondary school. The results suggest that there are differences between schools; nationally as well as internationally, and that it is more common that Swedish teachers follow the syllabus for English than the Cameroonian teachers do. In addition, one aspect of particular importance for Cameroon pointed out by this study is the hold of pidgin on the Cameroonian society. It makes it difficult for the Francophone Cameroonian learners of English to develop in their English competence and makes the education process difficult also for the teachers, the school administration as well as the state.