Language Proficiency and First year University Achievement:Acase Study at the University of nar es Salaam

Sarah North


The University of Dar es Salaam, like tertiary institutions in many other'
Afri.can countries, uses EDiIish as the medium of instruction, thus RlQuiring
students to learn through vlhat is at best a second IllDlWlle, and for' some a
third or even fourth language; This situation makes great demands on a
student's language proficiency, not only in terms of the command of Jenera!
English, but also the ability to apply it in the exercise of such sophisticatedskills
as lecture comprehension, notetaking, writing academic essays and
reading advanced textbooks in specialist. subjects. For lower levels of
education, there is considerable evidence of the close relationship betWeen
language ability and intellectual development.1 If such a relationship holds
also for tertiary education, then a student's conunand of English and ability to
use it effectively as a tool for academic study may be a crucial (actor
contributing to his succe~ at the university.

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