As part of their commitment to understanding the impact of LOLT (the language of learning and teaching) on the learners of Sophakama, the Books and Beyond project team attended a presentation on the Language of Learning and Teaching: How to deal with the challenges of many languages in one classroom.
It was organised by the School Leadership Forum and Symphonia for South Africa and presented by the very experienced Margie Owen-Smith of the Home Language Project.
Margie outlined a step-by-step approach to introducing multilingualism into classrooms to address the language disadvantages that may be experienced by learners in South African schools. She explained how multi-bilingual strategies and techniques can be implemented and how teachers can be trained to use the techniques in their classrooms.
She emphasised the need for more multilingual school materials, especially textbooks. She believes that principals and teachers should be adopting a multi-bilingual mindset in their schools and developing plans to implement strategies to support it. She feels they need to update how they teach languages and how they use language to teach other subjects.
It gave interesting food-for-thought to the complex issue of teaching in a common language versus teaching in a learner’s home language. Perhaps there doesn’t need to be such a rigid division between the two options?