Democratisation of the classroom:an analysis of teachers' language practices in selected multilingual classrooms of Chibombo, district.

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Bwalya, Vigirio
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The University of Zambia
Considering that Zambia is a multilingual country and that all the classrooms are multilingual while the current Language in Education Policy only mentions English as the language of instruction from grade five onwards, it was imperative to study the sociolinguistic situation of the grade 6 classrooms of Chibombo district and their corresponding teachers‟ classroom language practices. Thus, the aim of the study was to analyse teachers‟ language practices in the grade 6 multilingual classrooms of Chibombo District and to determine whether these language practices were democratic or not. The study was guided by four objectives namely: to establish the sociolinguistic composition of the classrooms; to analyse teachers‟ language practices in selected grade six classrooms; to establish attitudes of teachers towards informal language varieties; and to find out the challenges teachers faced in teaching selected grade six multilingual classes under the new revised Language in Education Policy. The study utilised the sequential explanatory research design; a mixed methods approach that involves the collection and analysis of quantitative data first and then qualitative data. Cluster random, simple random and purposive sampling techniques were used to come up with 260 respondents of which 60 were grade 6 teachers and 200 were grade 6 pupils. Data were collected using questionnaires, interviews and classroom observations of lessons. Triangulation of data provided detailed information on the multilingual nature of the classrooms, teachers‟ and learners‟ language practices in the classroom, teachers‟ language attitudes towards informal languages and the challenges teachers face when teaching in multilingual classrooms. Quantitative data were analysed using the SPSS software programme to get the frequencies and percentages while qualitative data were analysed thematically according to research objectives. The findings of the study showed that the grade 6 classrooms of Chibombo District were multilingual as teachers and learners were able to speak more than one language. The main spoken languages in the schools were Nyanja (22.5 percent of the learners and 15 percent of the teachers), Bemba (23 percent of the learners and 40 percent of the teachers), Lenje (29 percent of the learners and 4 percent of the teachers), Tonga (16 percent of the learners and 23.3 percent of the teachers). The findings also showed that while some teachers democratised their classrooms through the adoption of translanguaging as a pedagogical language practice, others insisted on monolingual language practices which resulted in symbolic violence. The study further revealed that teachers had communication challenges when using English to teach learners from different linguistic background. Lastly, the study concluded that teachers‟ language practices did not fully democratise the classroom due to semi-translanguaging. The recommendations were that the Government through the Curriculum Development Center should (a) revise the Language in Education Policy to match the linguistic composition of the classrooms by developing a Dual-language or Dynamic Bilingual Education System instead of the current Transition Bilingual Education, (b) legitimise translanguaging, and (c) consider preparing and conducting grade 7 exams in two or more languages. Keywords: Democratisation, Multilingual Classroom, translanguaging, Chibombo District, Zambia
Democratisation-- Multilingual Classroom, , Translanguaging