|dc.description.abstract||Zambia, being a multilingual country has had a challenge in choosing the appropriate
medium of instruction for initial literacy skills in Primary Schools.Regional Official
Languages, (ROL’s) are used as MoI because of the assumption that they are mutually
intelligible with the dialects they represent, (Mwanakatwe, 2013).
Chitonga, as a Regional Official Language, is assumed to be mutually intelligible with
Lenje, that is why it is used as a medium of instruction in the Primary Literacy
Programme, a programme in which learners learn in vernacular from Grades 1- 4.The
study was motivated by Kashoki’s (1978) and Simwinga’s (2006) suggestion to test the
assumption that Regional Official Languages are mutually intelligible with the dialects
they represent, on linguistic grounds. The study sought to establish whether the use of
mutual intelligibility of Chitonga vocabulary in the instruction materials could
effectively facilitate the acquisition of initial literacy skills in the learners who are
predominantly Lenje speakers.
The study was conducted in five schools in Chilumba area of Kapiri- mposhi district.
The study used a qualitative approach involving a case study design. The sample size
was 10, comprising 5 teachers and 5 parents while the pupils were observed indirectly
during lessons due to their cognitive level which could not allow them to give in- depth
understanding of the phenomena. Data was collected using semi- structured interviews
and lesson observations. Results were categorized and analyzed thematically.
The study found that Chitonga and Lenje vocabularies were not completely mutually
intelligible. The lack of mutual intelligibility hindered the learners’ comprehension and
consequently effective acquisition of initial literacy skills. Due to lack of intelligibility,
the teachers translated Chitonga to Lenje to enable the learners comprehend the texts.
The parents did not find it easy to help their children with their home work using
Chitonga because of lack of mutual intelligibility.
Recommendations include use of Lenje as medium of instruction for Lenje speaking
learners for easy acquisition of initial literacy skills; teachers who are conversant with
the language to be given the Grade 1- 4 classes; parents to be given some guidelines on
how to help their children and adult literacy programmes to be reinforced.||en