International Journal of
English and Literature

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. English Lit.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2626
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJEL
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 278

Full Length Research Paper

Behaviourism theory in teaching and learning English as a second language in primary schools

Kadau Ibrahimu
  • Kadau Ibrahimu
  • Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Muslim University of Morogoro, United Republic of Tanzania.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 18 March 2022
  •  Accepted: 07 September 2022
  •  Published: 31 December 2022


The English Language is widely used in nearly all countries around the world, and Tanzania is not an exception. Learning theories such as humanism, cognitivism, constructivism, and behaviourism are applied as a way to achieve the expected aims of English learning and teaching in Tanzania. This study aims to understand the challenges of using behaviourism theory in English language learning and teaching. This will be important for everyone involved in education, particularly English language teaching: Teachers, parents, textbook and/or supplementary book writers, syllabus designers, policymakers, education planners, and other educational stakeholders. This study opts to use a qualitative approach based on case study design to guide the study. The study used two instruments; a documentary review and an interview. The interview involved six primary teachers from different primary schools in Tanzania. The documentary review entailed reading various academic articles that contained information about behaviourism theory in English teaching. The finding indicates that challenges to using behaviourism theory in teaching English can be categorised into learner-based, teacher-based, and environmental-based. Learner-based challenges include such psychological problems as anxiety, which limit the application of key principles of behaviourism theory in teaching English. Teacher-based challenges include the ability of teachers, especially in the application of key principles of behaviourism theory in teaching English to primary school students in Tanzania. In conclusion, among other things, regular in-service training for primary school teachers, curriculum revision, and improvement of teaching and learning will be critical in minimising the challenges of using behaviourism theory in teaching English in Tanzanian primary schools.


Key words: Behaviorism, second language, English teaching.