Implementation of Dual Language Programmes in Junior Schools: the Case of the Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa- Kenya
Njoroge, Esther Njeri
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Dual language programmes (DLPs) have continued to show the biggest gains when it comes to language proficiency and academic achievements. Many countries especially in Europe, have adopted this programme to deal with the challenge of immigrants who have limited English proficiency. In Africa, plans of implementing this programme are underway in Maputo. Kenya pioneered this programme at the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa County, with the aim of developing learners who are bilingual and biliterate with high academic achievements. The major concern of this study was that though research indicates massive gains’ accruing from DLPs, students under the DLP have been exiting from the programme prematurely at the end of year 3 for three consecutive groups of students, following concerns on students' academic achievement under the programme. The central problem of this study was to evaluate the implementation of DLP at the Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa, where Kiswahili and English languages are used as the medium of instruction. Thus, the objectives of this study were to examine the characteristics of the 50:50 DLP model adopted by the school, the instructional approaches used as well as the students’ attitude towards English and Kiswahili as languages of instruction, challenges faced in the implementation of the DLP and suggest appropriate strategies that can be adopted in DLP implementation. In line with Vygotsky's Socio-cultural Theory and Cummins’ theory on Integrated Second Language Instruction, it is hypothesised that learners acquire language in a social environment where the language is used under the guidance of teachers. Case study research design was adopted. The target population was 198 students, 16 homeroom teachers, 2 male and 14 female, 2 syndicate leaders, the Principal of Junior School and the Head of the Academy. The sample for the study was 148 respondents comprising 130 students, two syndicate leaders, fourteen teachers, the Principal of the Junior school and the Head of the Academy. This represented 68% of the target population. Three research instruments were used namely; questionnaires, interview schedule and observation schedule. A pilot study was carried out on one assistant teacher, one syndicate leader and five students, one from each grade. The study used test-retest method to test the reliability of the instruments and the triangulated data was to increase the internal validity. Qualitative data collected was analysed thematically and presented in narrative form while quantitative data was analysed with the aid of SPSS software and presented in form of frequency tables and bar graphs. The study found out that the Academy comprises of learners from diverse race and nationalities who were neither native speakers of English nor Kiswahili. All learners were found to be proficient in English while only 15% were proficient in Kiswahili. Teachers in the Academy were also found to be more comfortable teaching in English as compared to teaching in Kiswahili and most of the instruction was done in English. Differentiation, cooperative learning and scaffolding which support implementation of DLP, were rarely used. Further, the study found out that as compared to English language, students had a negative attitude towards Kiswahili language. The study identified various challenges that teachers face in the implementation of DLP that includes, students’ negative attitude towards Kiswahili language, inadequate resources to support implementation of DLP, lack of training of teachers in DLP and retention of trained teachers, inadequate planning time and low proficiency levels in Kiswahili among the students. The study recommended that Kiswahili should be taught intensively in early years to help learners gain adequate proficiency and teachers should continuously receive in-service training in DLP from DLP experts. Further, it was recommended that rather than sticking to the 50:50 DLP model, the school should adopt a DLP model that best fits its context. All stakeholders should be educated on the importance and purpose of DLP in achieving bilingualism and biliteracy in today’s world.