The influence of language of instruction on students’ academic outcomes: the experience of secondary schools in Morogoro, Tanzania

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Many have ascribed the poor performance that secondary school students in Tanzania have suffered in various school subjects in the national examinations to the students’ weakness in English, the Language of Instruction (LoI). This brief paper seeks to determine the influence of LoI on students’ academic success in secondary schools. An English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) and students’ academic archival reports provided the data and a Statistical Package for Software System (SPSS) facilitated data analysis. Analysis brought to light the finding that proficiency in LoI affects performance only to a slight extent. Non-ELP factors exert a stronger influence on performance in subjects other than English while – not surprisingly – English proficiency does indeed exercise much influence on English achievement. The study concludes that academic performance is a function of several variables and that ELP plays a role in performance but not the major role. The study recommends that the government (1) emphasize the improvement of ELP, since the greater the improvement, the more a positive influence may be anticipated; and (2) consider using ELP as an additional eligibility criterion for admission into higher education.


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language of instruction, students’ academic, Morogoro, secondary schools