The core of the Language Supportive Pedagogy is the Strategic use of both English and Kiswahili in Form I classrooms. The LSTT textbooks give teachers and students ways to do this. To be effective teachers also need to adopt strategies for how they interact with students to support their learning in this linguistically complex learning environment. Below are some Teaching and Learning Strategies for how to do this.
- Strategies for Teaching from the front
- Strategies for when Students talk
- Strategies for when students read the textbook
- Strategies for when students write
Strategies for teaching from the Front:
- If students have already studied the topic in primary school, they can only express their knowledge in Kiswahili. Therefore, use Kiswahili to ask them questions about their previous learning.
- Use diagrams and pictures to illustrate concepts. Use the pictures in the book, or draw them on the board.
- Write key concepts on the board. Repeat them and get students to say them.
Translate new concepts into Kiswahili. Draw attention to those words in the text.
Refer to the glossary in the book. Encourage students to use the glossaries.
Use what students know already. Some of this knowledge will be in Kiswahili or a mother tongue. Get students to access their prior learning by asking them to talk in a vernacular language.
- Check regularly whether students understand. Ask questions to check this. Short answers (e.g. yes/no questions) are easy to answer. If you ask questions that require a longer answer and the learners cannot give it in English, accept their answers in Kiswahili. You can then translate them into English.
- Use Kiswahili strategically to help learning. For instance to get the meaning of key concepts.
Remember that Form I students have to concentrate very hard to listen to English. If you talk for a long time in English, it will be difficult for them to keep focused on what you are saying.
Strategies for when students talk:
- Demonstrate to students how an activity should be done, and then ask them to do it.
If students cannot talk in pairs or groups in English about a concept, ask them to do it first in Kiswahili. As they finish, ask one or two pairs or groups to report in English what they have said. Give them a few minutes to decide what they will say in English. Help them with the useful vocabulary
- When students work in pairs or groups, go round and listen. Help them where necessary.
When students talk in English, try not to correct their English while they are speaking. Correct after they have finished, but without discouraging them.
- Never humiliate a student because he or she cannot talk English and do not allow students to humiliate or laugh at another student’s English. Mutual respect should be part of the classroom culture. This will give the students confidence to try out English.
Strategies for when Students read the textbook
- Ask students to work briefly in pairs or small groups and say what they know about the topic. Put a question on the board for them to answer. It doesn’t matter if what they say is incorrect. A three minutes discussion will be enough. Then ask them to read the text.
- If there is a picture or diagram to accompany the text, get them to look at this picture or diagram before they read. Students can talk about it in English or Kiswahili. This willhelp them to understand the text in English.
At first, ask students to look at the glossary before reading the text.As they get better at reading, students can refer to the glossary as they read.
- Ask text-based questions before students read the text to give them focus and extra motivation.
Fill-in-the-blanks activities make students think about what they are reading and help them to understand the meaning.
- When students have read the text, ask them to talk briefly (e.g. 3 minutes) in pairs in Kiswahili to check whether they agree about what they understood.
Get a few students to report to the whole class about what they understood. If a learner has understood the text but can’t explain it in English, accept an answer in Kiswahili, and translate for the class.
Strategies for when students write:
- Demonstrate to students how an activity should be done, and then ask the students to do it.
It is useful for students to sometimes work in pairs when they write in English. They can discuss how to construct sentences, which words to use, how to spell, etc. It is good if they discuss this in English, but it is just as good if they discuss in Kiswahili
- When students write, go round and read. Help them where necessary.
- When they have finished writing, it is sometimes useful to get one or two students to loudly read out their sentences to the whole class, or even to dictate a sentence to be put on the board. However, this kind of activity can take time, so keep it short.