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BeLiFS Becoming Literate in Faith Settings Centre for Language, Culture and Learning Educational Studies Department Goldsmiths University of London Amoafi.

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Presentation on theme: "BeLiFS Becoming Literate in Faith Settings Centre for Language, Culture and Learning Educational Studies Department Goldsmiths University of London Amoafi."— Presentation transcript:

1 BeLiFS Becoming Literate in Faith Settings Centre for Language, Culture and Learning Educational Studies Department Goldsmiths University of London Amoafi Kwapong Mobility Language Literacy Conference January 2011 University of Cape Town

2 BeLiFS ‘Becoming Literate in Faith Settings’ (BeLiFS) is an ongoing study funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) on children’s learning in four communities of new Londoners: Ghanaian Pentecostalists, Bangladeshi Muslims, Polish Catholics and Tamil Hindus. Members of the team are: Professor Eve Gregory, Director; Dr. Charmian Kenner, Ms. Mahera Ruby, Dr. John Jessel and Dr. Vally Lytra (co-directors); Amoafi Kwapong, Halimun Choudhury, Malgosia Woodham and Arani Ilankuberan (researchers), Dr. Ana Souza (Administrator) and Dr. Olga Barradas

3 The Church of Pentecost, Dagenham, East London UK

4 Culture Linguistic Background, Migration and Faith Most Ghanaians have faith but when they arrive in London they find the Church of Pentecost-UK (COP-UK). They want to keep their cultural activities and they adapt their faith. For example, Kwaku, father of Kofi, found his own faith after following friends to their church in Ghana and joining the COP-UK on arrival in the UK. The COP-UK has grown in numbers, there are now: 82 branches nationwide: 6,000 members, 16 full time ministers, 2 administrative areas and 14 Pastoral districts. The building was converted from a cinema.

5 The main road in which the COP-UK is situated

6 Research questions The two questions below form a part of the overall research questions in the ongoing study: What is the scope and nature of literacy practices in each faith setting? How do teaching and learning take place during faith literacy activities across different settings?

7 Methodology Collaborative ethnography was used in Phase 1 and is being used in Phase 2. Data collected included observations of the faith setting, interviews with faith leaders, parents and children. Members of the research team meet fortnightly to discuss the data collected and field narratives. In May 2010, a presentation of Phase 1 was made to an Advisory Board of faith leaders and academics. There will be a presentation of Phase 2 in June 2011.

8 Events Two languages are used for two different services on Sundays. There is an Akan service with Twi (the major language in Ghana) as the spoken language. This is attended mainly by Ghanaians and others who understand Twi. English is used for the International service and the congregation is made up of Ghanaians and other Africans as well as those from around the world. There is a Sunday school attached to each service and the children are taught in English and learn songs in both Twi and English.

9 The children learn songs in Twi. ‘Call-and-response’ is linked to the main church with the congregation responding, ‘Halleluyah’ to the pastor’s call, ‘Praise the Lord’. TWI English Yesu wo ha, Jesus is here, Yesu wo fie, Jesus is at home, Yesu wo babiara. Jesus is everywhere. Woye bone a, If you do wrong, obehu, He will see it, obete,He will hear about it, obekyerew. He will write it down. Woye bone a If you do wrong, orenhyira wo DA. He will NEVER bless you’.

10 Link to literacy learning On International Children’s Day 2010 these young children recited long texts that they had memorised by listening to their teachers, repeating after them and practising at home. These oral texts are translated into written texts when they complete their worksheets in class.

11 Children learn from their Picture Bible

12 Starting young The 2-5 year olds learn through call-and-response, for example, the teacher says, Hi, hi, children and children respond, Hi, hi, children of the Lord. Teacher: Sunday school. Children: No talking. In November 2010, the Christmas preparation included worksheets based on John 10: 11 for 2-5 year old boys and girls to colour and fill in the missing words.

13 Family support interwoven with faith Kofi is nine years old and one of the children with whom I have been working in Phase 2 of the study. He is a very quiet boy and this was the symbolic representation of his family during an interview.

14 Decostruction of ‘gangsta’ identity The story of David and Goliath (Mark 9 verse 39) was used as a practical example of how Ghanaian boys could find other ways of developing self- confidence when faced with hostility from the wider community. Two 8-year-old children (one small and the other big) were used to demonstrate how David outshone Goliath in spite of his size. The teacher says to the big boy, ‘I’m saying this purposely for you – so anytime people say you should fight, you should join a gang – you should leave it aside’. She adds, ‘This applies to everybody’.

15 Conclusion Tradition merges with religion to address community needs: Traditional ‘call-and-response’ is adapted to the church and used to transfer to literacy. The Bible is interpreted to support identity in the community.

16 Thank you!


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