Mismatch between familiar language and language of instruction among pupils: effect on reading comprehension in selected primary schools in Lusaka district, Zambia.

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Marvin, Kapenda
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This paper examines the extent of the mismatch between familiar language and language of instruction among pupils and its effect on reading comprehension in selected primary schools in Lusaka district of Zambia. In order to conduct an investigation, the study adopted quantitative method following the cross sectional survey design. The study sample comprised 240 Grade 5 pupils from three (3) government primary schools in Lusaka District. Multi-stage sampling procedure was applied in the selection of schools and in the selection of pupil-participants, the stratified simple random sampling was desirable and applied. Eligible children came from the average and above average ability groups who could at least read and write. The study adopted a questionnaire survey and two tests were used to collect data and the data was analysed statistically using inferential and descriptive statistics. The study employed the simple view of reading (SVR) and socio-cultural perspective for its framework .This study as desired by objectives achieved the following: Compiled profiles of language in schools of Lusaka as well as individual pupils. The language profile suggests language diversity and nature of schools in multilingualism. The study furthermore suggests the influence of language familiarity (home and instructional Language) and its effects on reading and listening Comprehension, results of the independent sample t-tests indicated that there were significant differences in Reading comprehension between Cinyanja and English, as result of the mismatch between familiar and language of instruction (t (239) = -9.655, p < .001). Results of the dependent (paired) sample t-tests indicated that there were similarly significant differences in performance results between Listening comprehension in Cinyanja and Listening comprehension in English, (t (239) = -7.941, p < .001). These results suggests that if a child is linguistically unfamiliar with Listening comprehension in Cinyanja, the reading comprehension will definitely be affected too, hence the low performance in reading. Additionally, the results of the study illustrate how a child’s socio-economic status (SES) as defined by schools attended determined listening and reading comprehension. One-way ANOVA results to determine how a child’s socio-economic status (SES) as defined by schools attended determines listening and reading comprehension demonstrated non-statistically significant mean differences, F (1,238) = 1.897, �� =170, an indication of a non-significant effect of socio-economic status on the observed mean differences in reading and listening comprehension in Cinyanja performance. On the other hand, results on how language spoken at home determines reading and listening comprehension skills in both English and Cinyanja provides evidence contrary to the expectations that children who claim to come from Cinyanja speaking homes are not benefiting in the language of instruction as they have difficulties in reading and listening comprehension compared to those that come from English speaking homes. A two-way ANOVA indicated statistically significant differences in pupils’ performance in English language based on home language, (3,405) = 14.38, �� < .05. The regression results shows that Pupils’ age had a significant impact on performance in reading comprehension in both languages but was a factor only in listening comprehension in English language p=<.002, and not in listening comprehension in Cinyanja p= >.05.Even though there is some commonality between pupils’ vocabularies and the language of instruction in most Lusaka District schools, children experience serious problems with reading as the low scores of pupils on the reading comprehension in Cinyanja tests illustrate. The current findings also suggest that pupils in primary schools are not benefiting in using Cinyanja as a language of instruction as it contradict with their familiar language. Therefore, the study recommended, among other things, that there is need to simplify the class language of instruction to children’s home and language of play and to train teachers in specific Zambian languages. Key words: language of instruction; reading comprehension; familiar language; Mismatch
Native language and education--Zambia , Education, Multilingual--Zambia