“Your Language should be the One to Identify you”: Maintaining an Ethnolinguistic Identity among Ghanaian University Students

By Dora Francisca Edu-Buandoh.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper discusses how multilingual university students in Ghana claim and maintain their identities through the use of language. The paper is based on an ethnographic study involving eight university students who spoke more than two multiple Ghanaian languages, in addition to one or two international languages. The paper examines how their choice of languages projects the cultural identity they claim and maintain. Although most of the languages of the world are directly linked to ethnic groups, some researchers assert that language is not the necessary condition for ethnic group membership. However, this paper contends that Ghanaian University students claim and maintain ethnolinguistic identity as their cultural identity. The data for the study, collected over a four-month period was analysed through constant comparative analysis and based on Grounded Theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Implications for the study should inform educators in multilingual communities, especially, African countries, and motivate language policy makers to maintain additive multilingualism.

Keywords: Multilingualism, Ethnolinguistic Identity, Cultural Identity

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp.85-96. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.156MB).

Dr. Dora Francisca Edu-Buandoh

Lecturer, Department of English, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana

I have a PhD in Language, Literacy and Culture from the University of Iowa, United States. Presently, I teach English Language and Linguistics at the Department of English, University of Cape Coast, Ghana. I also teach English Methodology to Education students of the same University. I write modules for the English Language courses in the Distance Education Program of the University of Cape Coast. Recently, I was invited by Open University,UK to version education materials in Literacy Development for Teacher Education in Sub Saharan Africa (TESSA). I have also been involved in the teaching of Fante Language and Culture to foreign students who come to the University of Cape Coast for Study Abroad programmes. My research interests are Multilingualism, Literacy, Language and Identity, Criticial Discourse Analysis and Writing Skills.


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