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Teacher education for second language learners in Tanzania

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Angeline Barrett with tutors at Butimba Teachers College

8 November 2017

For the last 12 years, School of Education led a series of research projects to support disadvantaged learners in education systems in sub-Saharan Africa, where the language used for teaching and learning changes midway through students’ school careers.

This work is being taken to scale by Phase 2 of the Language Supportive Teaching and Textbooks project in Tanzania. This project is the integrating the theory and practice of a pedagogic approach to integrating language and subject learning lower secondary school. The innovation is being developed and implemented through an adapted version of lesson study that involves collegial professional learning, collaboration between language and science specialists and peer observation.

Angeline Barrett, who is leading the project, recently returned from a visit to Tanzania to review progress. As well as meeting with researchers in our two partner universities, the University of Dodoma and the University of St. John’s, Tanzania, she visited two Teachers’ Colleges – Butimba and Mpwapwa. Just one year into its three-year cycle, the project is already having a positive impact. Around 3000 student teachers across five institutions are being introduced to the theory and practice of language supportive pedagogy. New collegial partnerships have been forged between science and language specialists within and across teacher education institutions. Through these, teacher educators are inspired and supported to innovate, try out and critically review new strategies. At both Mpwapwa and Butimba Teachers’ Colleges, tutors had devised creative ways to engage students in discussion and get them practicing speaking in English. These they were implementing in large class sizes of 60-200 students. Language specialists were team teaching with science education specialists to give explicit feedback on sentence structure and pronunciation. 

As the project moves into a second cycle of lesson study collaboration priorities are being identified for further improvement of practice. These include orienting discussion towards collaborative learning for contextualised problem-solving and developing more detailed and explicit content on assessing and strengthening secondary school students’ writing.

For more information on the LSTT project, see Angeline’s recent CIRE blog and the LSTT website

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