Situating language at the centre of journalism training: The case for broadening the spheres of English teaching and learning in Journalism training institutions in Ghana

Modestus Fosu


This paper derives its impetus from the consensus today that the media play an indispensable role in
democratic governance for sustained development. The media foster, most importantly, accountability,
transparency, rule of law, respect for human rights, and civic participation, which are vital in securing the
economic well-being of a people. Language, as the main vehicle that drives communication or journalistic
imperatives to the “consumer”, thus becomes a critical factor.
The focus here is on the effective and appropriate use of English (Ghana’s official language) in
newspapers in Ghana. It is argued that the majority of newspapers display linguistic ineptitude, thereby
weakening their capacity to package and make development-oriented messages accessible to the reader.
Specifically, the majority of newspapers present news in grammatically faulty and semantically confusing
constructions that blur meaning. Thus, through a comparative study of the English and English-related
courses in four journalism training institutions in Ghana and the English provisions in the latest UNESCO
journalism curricula for Africa (2007), the study shows that English competence appears to be taken for
granted in the training institutions.
This paper therefore argues for journalism education in Ghana to focus on helping trainee journalists to
acquire English language competency. A more worthwhile complement will be to de-emphasise the
“core” journalism or media knowledge and skills students are made to focus all their attention on in the
schools and rather emphasise English use and usage. The paper suggests a reorganisation of English
studies including institutional structure, curriculum and syllabus development, infrastructure, teaching,
and learning methodology as ways of broadening English language pedagogy to produce the calibre of
journalists who can really champion the democratic and developmental aspirations of Ghana and Africa.

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