The Language of initial Literacy in a Cosmopolitan Enviroment: A Case of Cinyanja in Lusaka District

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Mwanza, David Sani
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The language-in-education policy in Zambia is that in grade one, the language of instruction for initial literacy is the familiar local language spoken in an area. From grade two onwards, the language of instruction is English. However, there are regions such as Lusaka which is cosmopolitan; with so many people from different ethnic backgrounds yet Cinyanja is the language of initial literacy based on the assumption that it is the language of play in the district.It was from this background that a study was conducted. The purpose of the study was to find out if Cinyanja was appropriate for use as a language of initial literacy in Lusaka considering the fact that Lusaka was a cosmopolitan environment.The research design was a case study. Both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection were used. Interview guides, lesson observation checklists and a familiar language test were administered.The target population consisted of all the government basic schools in Lusaka District, all the grade one teachers and all the grade one pupils. The sample consisted of 6 basic schools, 6 head teachers, 38 grade one teachers, 120 pupils from the 6 schools were tested and all the grade one pupils in the 6 sampled schools were part of the sample. The data was analysed qualitatively. It was grouped into identified themes according to research objectives.The findings revealed that Cinyanja was the language of play in high and medium density areas and the dominant language of play in the low density area was English. However, other languages such as Bemba, Tonga and Nsenga were also spoken by children during play.
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