Language related barriers and teacher-child interactions in preschool: a study of Kisumu County, Kenya
Opinde, Judith Atieno
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There are difficulties faced by preschool teachers when instruction children. Some of these are occasioned by the differences in language of instruction used by the teacher from that spoken by the children. Language Policy in education demands that preschool children be taught in their mother tongue. This is challenging, particularly when the language of the teacher and that of the preschool children are different. Previous research studies both global and local have majorly concentrated on the importance of using mother tongue as the language of instruction in preschool, but do not identify the challenges faced by pre-school teachers in instructing children from diverse linguistic backgrounds. This study sought to identify the language related barriers in teacher -child interaction in preschools. The objectives of this study were to establish the linguistic diversity among pre-school children entering preschool, to find out language related barriers faced by teachers who do not speak language of the local community and to find out language related barriers experienced by the pre-school children who are not familiar with the language of instruction. The study is anchored on Linguistic relativity theory by Sapir and Whorf (1884-1939) which states that the way people think is strongly influenced by their native languages. This study used a descriptive research design using survey method to collect data through the use of questionnaires. Purposive sampling technique and simple random sampling was used to select target population. The study was conducted in Nyakach Sub- County in Kisumu County. Validity and reliability was established using pre-test trial and test-retest methods respectively. The study found that preschool children enrolled into theschools within yakach sub-county are linguistically diverse. The challenges faced by teachers who do not speak the language used by the local community were; language barrier, limited learning and inactive children in class activities. The language barrier impedes quality of learning and interaction between the teachers and the pre-school chi ldren. The study recommends that the education policy that states pre-school children to be taught using the language of the catchment area be strictly implemented to facilitate adequate interaction between the teachers and the preschool children. In areas with homogenous language of catchment area, it is recommended that linguistic diversity be considered when employing pre-school teachers, while in areas and schools with diverse linguistic composition, teachers be equipped with skills to handle diverse learners.