CCSE Reading Group: English versus Native Language for Higher Education in Computer Science: A Pilot Study

Published: 15 November 2021

Waqar and Taj M Khan share their findings in a study of native languages compared with English in a university CS course in Pakistan.

DATE: 15th November 2021
TIME: 13:00-14:00
LOCATION: CCSE Online Seminar Room
While the official language of instruction for higher education programs in Pakistan is English, in practice it can vary from English only, to some combination of English and a native language, to native language only. There is a lack of consistency not just across institutions, but also across classrooms in the same institution. We conducted a pilot study based on a small cohort of computer science students, who happened to have some of the lectures of the same course delivered in Urdu, and the others in English. Based on a questionnaire response with both quantitative and free text questions, we investigated students’ self-reported oral and written communication skills, as well as their preference of language for lectures. We found, albeit based on a limited, pilot study, that using Urdu, the first language of most of our students, as the medium of oral communication (lectures, general classroom communication) should be preferred, whereas English should remain the language of choice for written communication. We are presenting our initial findings as a short-paper presentation at Koli Calling 2021.

Next, we are looking to expand this study to multiple classrooms across institutions in Pakistan at least. We would like the study to be rigorous enough such that more definitive conclusions can be derived, potentially leading to better informed, evidence-based policies and practices in the future. We would love to hear feedback on our work so far, and ideas on what our next steps should be.

First published: 15 November 2021