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Language and education: the missing link 26 November 2009 Language of education in Tanzania, Ghana and on Zanzibar Island John Clegg and Oksana Afitska.

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Presentation on theme: "Language and education: the missing link 26 November 2009 Language of education in Tanzania, Ghana and on Zanzibar Island John Clegg and Oksana Afitska."— Presentation transcript:

1 Language and education: the missing link 26 November 2009 Language of education in Tanzania, Ghana and on Zanzibar Island John Clegg and Oksana Afitska With acknowledgements to L&L and SPINE colleagues

2 2 The EdQual Language and Literacy project Edqual is a DfID-funded research project consortium consisting of institutions in the UK and Africa Research projects on: school effectiveness, curriculum change, ICT, leadership and management, language and literacy The Language and Literacy project investigates effective practice in teaching science, maths and basic literacy through the medium of first and second languages in Ghana and Tanzania Data includes: video lesson observation, interviews, language tests

3 3 Project objectives Characteristics of classroom interaction Teachers language competence Learners language competence Differences in classroom interaction between boys and girls Perceptions of stakeholders with regard to the use of L1 and L2 in education Accessibility of L2-medium textbooks

4 4 Context (Ghana) Dates: Schools: three schools; one private school in an urban setting, one public school in an urban setting and one public school in a rural setting. Classes: Years three and four Data collected: –characteristics of classroom interactions were observed and video- recorded. –Interviews with class teachers, school heads, six pupils from each of the two classes (P3 & P4) in the three schools; parents of pupils in the schools, teacher educators in a teacher college and an education officer.

5 Preliminary findings Characteristics of Classroom Interactions L2 (English) was used as the main medium of instruction in the urban private school. Code switching and code mixing were mostly done in the public urban and rural schools. Pupils were given more opportunities for writing than for reading during the lessons. Learners rarely asked questions during the lessons especially in the rural school. Teacher Competence in teaching through L1 and L2 Generally teachers had a good command of L2 with limited errors in pronunciation of L2 words. While teaching in L2 medium, the teachers occasionally used L1 to explain new concepts and to encourage learner participation. Teachers had some obvious difficulty in explaining technical terms in L1. Generally, the teachers demonstrated competence in teaching through both L1 and L2. 5

6 Preliminary findings Learner Competence in Learning through L1 and L2 Particularly in the urban private school, learners demonstrated much competence in learning in L2. They made longer utterances in L2 than learners in the public schools, especially the rural school. Very limited use of L1 was noticed among pupils in the urban private school. On the other hand, learners in the public schools, especially in the rural school, made longer utterances in L1 than in L2. They were found to exhibit greater competence in learning through L1 than in L2. Respondents Perceptions on Roles of L1 and L2 in Education Except for teachers and heads in the urban private school who showed a particular preference for the use of L2, all the other respondents indicated a general preference for use of both L1 and L2 to bring about more meaningful learning among learners particularly at the lower primary with a dominance of L2 at the upper primary. 6

7 7 Context (Tanzania) Dates: Schools: four schools; two urban schools, two rural schools Classes: Years primary year 6 and secondary year 1 Data collected: –Characteristics of classroom interactions were observed and video-recorded. –Interviews with class teachers, school heads, pupils, parents, teacher educators and education officers

8 Findings Teachers command of L2 In L2 medium lessons that only above a quarter of the observed teachers (28.57%) exhibit a strong command of English. Majority of them (66.67%) are only fairly fluent in English. This low competence in English can have an impact on subject delivery in many ways. Teachers choice of language In L2 medium lessons some use of Kiswahili language (29.58%) by the teachers was observed. These are instances of code switching that take place despite the existence of the language policy in place. Teachers presenting and explaining concepts In all observed cases teachers present concepts clearly when Kiswahili is used compared to only a third (33.3%) of the times when English is used. 8

9 Findings Teachers checking comprehension When L1 is used there is generally more (83.3%) checking of comprehension by the teacher than when English is used (61.9%). Teacher feedback and range of feedback For most of the lessons observed there are generally few cases of wide rage of feedback provided whether in English (4.8%) or Kiswahili (16.7%). However when Kiswahili is used, teachers provide wider feedback (66.7%) than when English is used (38.7%). Teachers providing L2 support When English is used, teachers only provide language support sometimes (47.6%) or rarely (33.3%). 9

10 10 What is SPINE? Student Performance in National Examinations: the dynamics of language in school achievement (SPINE) (ESRC/DfID RES ) Bristol team: Rea-Dickins, Yu, Afitska, Sutherland, Olivero, Erduran, Ingram, Goldstein Zanzibar team: Z. Khamis, Mohammed, A. Khamis, Abeid, Said, Mwevura LTA = high stakes; > 50% of school aged children leave school at the end of Basic Education as unsuccessful Switch of medium from primary to secondary school English = medium of instruction & examinations

11 Findings Teachers choice of language Overall, teachers were observed using L1 during the lessons in 49% of cases. Teachers checking comprehension In 42% of cases observed, teachers rarely probed pupils comprehension. They did not probe pupils comprehension at all (24%). Teachers frequently probed pupils comprehension (8%); and sometimes probed pupils comprehension (24%). Pupils extended responses In 83% of cases, learners rarely (28%), almost never or never (55%) provided extended responses; 16% pupils provided extended responses some of the time; only 2% learners were observed providing extended responses most of the time. 11

12 12 Findings 12

13 13 Summary Few potential opportunities for L2 development and support were provided across all contexts; English-Kiswahili lessons seemed to provide more potential opportunities for learners L2 development than English (mostly) lessons, regardless of whether these lessons were taught by teachers with high or low English language proficiency; Most attention seemed to be paid to vocabulary issues (leaving focus on grammar, pronunciation, comprehension through paraphrasing or translation behind)

14 14 Summary Of the four major language skills, students spent considerably more time listening to the teacher than on other skills (speaking, reading and writing); Learners never used English language to talk to their peers and the teacher during group work activities; Reading in L2 was practiced very rarely and only through chorus reading from books.

15 15 Student performance on exam items English Reading Comprehension Question: How whales resemble man 45 students took this item: 35.6% = no answer 26.7% = wrong answer 28.9% = partially correct answer 8.8% = correct answer

16 16 Interview: D1 who didnt answer Q3 explains D1:because I did not understand by this this … resemble (lines ) Int:If I tell you that resemble means to look like … can you do the question now? D1:Yes Int:OK so whats the answer? D1:Man … is warm blooded … and whales also … whales have lungs and man also have lungs … ( )

17 17 Results Original item –Only 32.6% of students wrote an answer –Just under 11% gave a partially correct or correct answer Modified item –100% responded to this item –42% gave a partially correct answer to Part A –53% gave a partially correct answer to Part B

18 Summary Students DO have language problems when processing examination questions Restructuring & modifying items (e.g. use of visuals, context, linguistic simplification) impacts on: –overall response rates –number of partially correct or correct responses –depth of insights into learning that has taken place Significant threats to reliability & validity: students struggle with the construct of English Language in order to access constructs of Maths & Science 18

19 19 Conclusion The classroom data suggest that learners could potentially benefit from schooling more if they are provided with more opportunities for English language development and support during the lessons. Language support and opportunities for English language development may be best provided when teaching and learning in the classrooms are conducted through non- restricted and collaborative use of learners first language and English language, where both languages are seen as crucial and equally important for effective facilitation of successful learning and higher achievement.

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