Learning by Heart in Qur'anic and Public Schools in Northern Cameroon

in Social Analysis
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In both Qur'anic and public schools in Maroua, Cameroon, the development of competence in a second language is fundamental, and rote learning is the primary mode of teaching and learning in both types of schooling. Through the lens of language socialization theory, I have examined rote learning as it is practiced in Maroua schools and reframed it as a tradition of learning and teaching I call 'guided repetition'. In this article I discuss similarities and differences in how and why guided repetition is done, linking interactional patterns with the second-language competencies and the ways of being that children are expected or hoped to develop through Qur'anic and public schooling. While the use of guided repetition in both types of schooling is rooted in very similar goals for and ideologies of second-language acquisition, it is accomplished in culturally distinct ways to socialize novices into 'traditional' and 'modern' subjectivities.