Disrupting language of instruction policy at a classroom level: oracy examples from South Africa and Zambia

Chamberlain, Liz; Rodriguez-Leon, Lucy and Woodward, Clare (2022). Disrupting language of instruction policy at a classroom level: oracy examples from South Africa and Zambia. Literacy (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/lit.12302

Abstract

Education policy in the Global South often focuses on two areas: learner-centred education (LCE) and language of instruction (LoI). For over a decade, LCE has been promoted throughout sub-Saharan Africa and has been referred to as a ‘policy panacea’. The basic premise of LCE is that it offers learners substantial control over what and how they learn through active engagement. Pair and group work involving talk are key aspects of LCE; however, in contexts where teachers and students are not proficient in the official LoI, the efficacy of this pedagogic approach is brought into question. Drawing on vignettes based on observational data of early years and primary classroom practice in South Africa and Zambia, this paper offers a discursive exploration of how valuing oracy and legitimising multilingualism alter classroom dynamics and interactions between teachers and children. Encouraging translanguaging as a pedagogical approach enables more effective meaning-making through talk and supports pedagogic shifts to more learner-centred classrooms. Exploring the potential of professional development to inspire change, we critically draw out some of the observable shifts in practice, alongside the challenges, for practitioners moving to a more multilingual classroom whilst simultaneously operating within the LoI policy.

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