Mutual intelligibility Chitonga vocabulary in instruction materials and Lenje to facilitate effective learning of initial literacy skills: the case of selected schools of Chilumba area of Kapir-Mposhi District, Zambia

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Malambo, Mulunda
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University of Zambia
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.
Master of Education in Literacy and Learning
Tonga language (Zambezi)--Study and teaching--Zambia , Tonga language (Zambezi)--Grammar.