The recording of this session is available here.
The final talk in our series was presented by Professor Leon Tikly (University of Bristol) and focused on language support for cross-curriculum engagement, reporting on a DFID funded project looking at the role language supportive textbooks and pedagogy within learning in Rwanda.
The key issue that the project addressed is that Primary year 4 learners in Rwanda cannot read their English-medium textbooks. This is, in part, due to the fact that the English-medium textbooks have been designed for learners with English as their L1. The textbooks are currently inappropriate for the context as the level of English required to use them effectively is too high. Tikly discussed the importance of textbooks as critical learning resources for providing access to the curriculum and as resources which benefit both learners and students.
Among the aims of the Language Supportive Textbooks and Pedagogy (LaST) project were: to work with Rwandan publishers to prototype textbook chapters that Primary 4 learners could access; work with teacher trainers to train teachers in language supportive pedagogy to use the textbooks; and work with publishers and the Rwandan Government to ensure that textbooks are language appropriate.
Tikly provided a detailed overview of why language supportive pedagogy is necessary and what it entails. Among the key issues for introducing language supportive pedagogy are the low L2 levels of both learners and teachers, which impedes the effectiveness of learning and teaching. In addition, initial teacher education often does not prepare teachers for contexts in which the majority of learners have low ability in the medium of instruction. As textbooks are often designed for L1 speakers, in contexts like Rwanda this results in textbooks being unreadable and unused.
Among the key features of language-supportive textbooks are that: bilingualism is promoted; texts are readable; and visuals are used to support learning. Similarly, when adopting a language-supportive pedagogy approach teachers are encouraged to make use of 2 languages and talk in an accessible style. Learners are encouraged to use their L1 and use the L2 only with strong support. Language supported pedagogy is put forward as an approach which will enhance the effectiveness of learning in the Rwandan context and similar contexts.
Professor Tikly is currently the Principal Investigator on the GCRF Network Plus Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures. You can find out more about this here.