Acquisition of lexicon by Kenyan primary school children in a multilingual environment: a case of Kyeni Location, Embu County
Nduma, Jayne R. F.
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For a long time, schools in rural Embu have been using instructional materials written in Gikuyu. This is due to lack of instructional materials written in the language of the catchment area which is Kiembu. Various Education Commissions recommended the use of mother-tongue as a language of instruction in the first three years of schooling. In line with this, the schools in Embu teach using mother tongue but they use instructional materials written in Gikuyu. This study sought to determine the process of acquisition of noun and verb lexical items of school going children in a multilingual environment. The study was an attempt to investigate some of the factors that may influence language acquisition at a critical stage of age 6-7 years. It is hoped that the findings of the study will inform policy makers on the need to have instructional materials written in Kiembu for use in primary schools in Embu County. Data was collected from six children aged between six and seven years. Three of them were pupils at Kiamboa Primary school in Kyeni location, Embu County, an environment where they are exposed to Kiembu, Gikuyu, Kiswahili and English. The other three children were from Kiamboa village, also in Kyeni location, Embu County, an environment where the language of interaction is mostly Kiembu. The study used two theories namely: Nativist Theory and The Krashens Monitor Model to analyze data. The Stories were by tape- recorded and oral interviews were used durng interactions with respondents. The Gikuyu and Kiembu nouns and verbs used by respondents were identified. The researcher sought to assess the influence that teaching using resource materials written in Gikuyu has had on the acquisition of Kiembu noun and verb words. The noun classes of all nouns were indicated. The verbs were interlinealized. The researcher identified the Gikuyu and Kiembu nouns and verbs used by the respondents.The study found out that the 6-7 year olds use only Kiembu before joining class one. This was attributed to the fact that these children are only exposed to Kiembu hence the competence in the use of Kiembu.The study further found out that the 6-7 year olds use Kiembu and Gikuyu in their conversations after they have joined class one. This was attributed to the fact that they are taught using books and other instructional materials written in Gikuyu. The study further showed that the exposure to a multilingual linguistic environment has little effect on the acquisition of Kiembu by the 6-7 year olds.