Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Exploring intercultural communicative competence among English language teachers in secondary schools in Tanzania: A postcolonial perspective

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posted on 2021-11-15, 11:56 authored by Biswalo, Upendo Paul

This thesis explores intercultural communicative competence (ICC) (that is ability to interact and communicate across cultures) from the perspectives of six teachers of English in the three secondary schools in the Dodoma Municipality in Tanzania. It also explores colonial legacies and power relations surrounding the constructions of English language teaching (ELT) practices in Tanzania.  The study is underpinned by postcolonial theory and Southern theory as theoretical approaches, and uses Foucauldian discourse analysis as the methodological framework. Tanzania inherited the British colonial system after independence and, therefore, postcolonial theory in this study is used to identify the effects of colonialism, particularly in ELT practices in Tanzania. Postcolonial theory provides a framework for understanding the complex context in which the research took place. English, which was imposed on Tanzania during the colonial period, is now both a compulsory subject and the medium of instruction (the MOI) in secondary education. Foucauldian discourse analysis is employed in this study as a methodological approach for exploring and analysing the concept of power relations surrounding ELT practices in Tanzania. As a theoretical tool, Foucauldian discourse analysis is useful because it provided me with a lens to understand the complexities of power relations within ELT practices in Tanzania. Southern theory is employed to extend current understandings of ICC and to suggest ways of making ICC more responsive to Southern contexts.  This post-structural and postcolonial work involved two phases of data collection and analysis. In phase one, I analysed the government documents― the policy and the syllabus― while in phase two the data from semi-structured interviews and stimulated recall with teachers, and my reflective diary were analysed. The findings indicate that despite its important role in effective communication and interaction in this global age, teachers who participated in this study seemed to be unaware of ICC. Secondly, the findings reveal some evidence of colonial legacies which were inherent in ELT practices in English language classrooms in Tanzania. Thirdly, the thesis reveals the discursive effects of the Ministry of Education’s power in shaping the ELT curriculum in Tanzania. This results in the generation of multiple and complex subjectivities for teachers. Finally, the study demonstrates the ways in which Western theories need to be re-read and extended through postcolonial theory in order to understand ELT in Southern contexts.  The thesis generates and contributes knowledge to the area of ELT in secondary schools in Tanzania by emphasising the importance of students gaining ICC for effective global interaction and communication. It also presents a unique contribution to the scholarship of ICC by proposing Southern theory to explore how people in the Southern contexts, such as Tanzania, interact across cultures. Lastly, the study contributes to the theoretical and methodological frameworks in the studies of ELT in non-Western contexts. A combined approach that uses Foucauldian analysis as well as postcolonial theory is unusual in this field. The study also has implications for teachers and policy makers for the development of both teachers’ and learners’ ICC for effective communication and interaction with other speakers of English globally.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Education


Manathunga, Catherine; Tait, Carolyn