|dc.description.abstract||This study investigated the language practices in a multilingual classroom situation in the selected primary schools of Livingstone Urban and was informed by the concept of translanguaging. The aim of the study was to analyse the language practices employed by teachers and learners in multilingual classrooms of selected primary schools in Livingstone Urban and implications thereof to the current educational language policy and sociolinguistic situation.
Using purposive sampling, the data were collected from twenty teachers and twenty pupils through semi-structured interviews as well as direct observations of twenty lessons. The voice-recorder, semi- structured interview guide and notebook were used as instruments. Out of the twenty teachers involved in the interviews and whose lessons were earlier observed, ten were from lower primary while another ten were from upper primary. The other interviews involved ten pupils from lower primary and ten from upper primary. As regards data analysis and interpretation, the present study employed the qualitative approach, whereby the findings were categorised into themes in line with the objectives.
Among the major findings, the study established that most of the learners prefer using Nyanja and English, both at lower and upper primary for various functions. Children chose Nyanja when seeking clarity to facilitate learning among peers and to respond to their teachers so as to enhance participation. Other functions of Nyanja included social identity and facilitating discussions during group work. Additionally, the study established that learners preferred English to Tonga to facilitate participation and addressing teachers to maintain formality and prestige. The study also established that languages like Tonga and Lozi were limitedly used by learners for the purpose of solidarity with peers from the same ethnic group or close friends. Moreover, the study established that teachers used Nyanja and English for linguistic inclusiveness to facilitate teaching. Some teachers also used Nyanja and English to cover their inadequacy in Tonga. The findings put the practicality of the current educational language policy under scrutiny because there is a mismatch between what the policy prescribes and what actually happens in the classrooms. The 2013 policy prescribes use of the zonal languages as the medium of instruction and communication in each province. Therefore, one of the major implications of the findings is that English more ‘favoured’ by nearly all the children both at lower and upper primary to an extent that the grounds of using the so-called ‘familiar language’ in form of a zonal language in multilingual areas is being challenged. Moreover, the familiarity of English to most children brings its label as a ‘foreign’ language under scrutiny.
The conclusion is that the language practices established in the study are a challenge to the practicality of the 2013 educational language policy. One recommendation is that the Ministry of Education should consider making a prescription of having teachers who are either native speakers or familiar enough with the respective zone languages to be teaching at lower primary. Another recommendation is that the Ministry of Education should consider revising the current educational language policy for the sake of cosmopolitan areas like Livingstone Urban||en