The French language has been taught in Kenya for over thirty years. However, the population of Kenyans who can proficiently speak the language is quite low. The purpose of this research was to find out the perspectives of teachers and learners of the language in public secondary schools in Nairobi city as they teach and/or learn it.
The study was guided by seven research questions, which sought to determine the level of proficiency of the teachers of the language, their teaching methodologies and the availability and adequacy of teaching and learning resources. The study also examined the effects of in-service courses for teachers in the teaching of the language. Teachers' and students' motivation to teach or learn the subject, global benefits, challenges and their remedial suggestions were sought in the research. The researcher used the survey design, employing both qualitative and quantitative research approaches.
The target population was all teachers and learners of French in public secondary schools, supervisors in charge of French and organizers of in-service courses for teachers in Nairobi city. The sample consisted of ten public secondary schools, 78 form four and three students of French, 8 teachers of French and 4 administrators/supervisors. The total sample consisted of 90 participants. Stratified and simple random sampling procedures were used to sample the schools, teachers, students and administrators/supervisors.
The research instruments used for data collection were questionnaires and interview guides. The researcher used the Statistical Package for Social Sciences - SPSS version 8.0 for windows to process the outcomes of the quantitative data from closed-ended questions. After that, descriptive statistics of frequencies and percentages were used to summarize the data. Qualitative data generated from open-ended questions and interview guides were reported in narrative form.
The results of the study showed that all the teachers and supervisors (apart from one) supervisors are first -degree holders with over eight years of experience .A majority of the students rated their teachers as proficient in French and are confident in the teacher's handling of the subject. However two teachers have limitations in the knowledge and use of foreign language teaching methods. The mostly used teaching and learning resources are textbooks and their accompanying audiocassettes. The other resources used though at a lesser degree are journals, magazines, posters and multimedia.
All the teachers have benefited from in-service courses that are offered by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with Alliance Francaise. However the teachers are not able to implement all that is taught during these courses. Both teachers and students are motivated to learn the language because it is interesting, it has high career prospects and it enables them to interact with francophone people. The major challenges that teachers and students face are the complexity of the language, lack of proper French language teaching skills among teachers, little time allocation, the absence of many French language speakers around and inadequate availability and knowledge in the use of teaching resources.