Teachers' curriculum development experiences of the transition from mother tongue to English as a medium of instruction : a case study of three primary schools in Lesotho.
Masilo, 'Mamotloang Grace.
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In the Lesotho primary education system, the language policy states that the mother tongue (Sesotho) should be used up to Standard Three (this is the third year of schooling in Lesotho) as the medium of instruction. English is prescribed as the medium of instruction from Standard Four upwards. This sudden change presents enormous challenges for teachers, especially in Standard Four. The purpose of my study was to investigate Standard Four teachers’ curriculum development experiences of the transition from the mother tongue to English as medium of instruction. The study also sought to understand how teachers plan and teach at this level. This was a qualitative interpretive study that adopted a case study methodology. Participants were purposively selected. They were three Sesotho-speaking Standard Four teachers in three different urban schools. In addressing the research questions, data was generated through qualitative methods such as semi-structured teachers’ interviews, classroom observations, document analysis and a personal reflective journal. Data was analyzed and interpreted through an open coding process. The findings revealed that these teachers experienced several challenges in the use of English as the medium of instruction. Teachers were faced with three key issues that they had to deal with, namely, overcoming their own perceptions of their competence in English, their low sense of self efficacy with regard to teaching at this transition class, and the difficulty with teaching pupils in a second language before these pupils had gained proficiency in their mother tongue. Teachers regularly employed codeswitching as a strategy to make meaning in their classrooms. The study recommends pre- and in-service teacher professional development, and a review of the Lesotho language policy in the primary school.