Investigating benefits of mother tongue instruction in multilingual Africa: The role of Content and Language Integrated Learning
The paper sought to investigate Grade 7 pass rates in Zambian languages, English, maths and science subjects for three groups of students following Zambia’s change of initial literacy of 1996 from English to Zambian languages; to compare the pass rates across urban and rural schools, and to examine the extent of integration of English into the content subjects. A quantitative method was used to investigate the problem, the purpose of which was to explore the extent to which outcomes could be apportioned to the integration of English into the content subjects, typifying Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). Results showed that the pass rates for all the subjects were generally low and those for urban schools were better than the ones for rural schools. Pass rates in English tended to be slightly better than those in Zambian languages and those in maths and science – content subjects. Given the better pass rates in English, the study concludes that the outcome may be indicative of failure by the teachers to integrate English into content subjects. The study makes a case for implementing a CLIL approach
in the African multilingual learning context for the improvement of academic achievement.
Key terms: English language, multilingualism, academic achievement, content and language integrated learning