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When Botswana became a British Protectorate in 1985, the territory that is now Botswana, with its
diverse ethnic languages came under the influence of English which would later become a school
language. English was used as a medium of instruction for children who had no knowledge of the
language. There was not even a sizeable English-speaking community who could provide a good
example of English pronunciation. English was learnt from people who were themselves hardly
literate in it. The effect and consequence of this was that bad pronunciation habits were entrenched,
and have, unfortunately, persisted. If Setswana speakers were fortunate that Setswana was later used
in the classroom, nothing helped the speakers of languages such as Shekgalagari and iKalanga.
Their poor pronunciation of English is for the most part traceable to their mother tongue. This article
presents a preliminary discussion on these pronunciation challenges. The discussion seeks also to
contribute to debates on challenges of learning English as a foreign language. The realisation of
these phonetic struggles may also contribute to better teaching strategies for English in Botswana.