The Importance or Significance of Local Zambian Languages in Education, Development and Mass Mobilisation

This article was extracted from a research study and was already published in a Journal. If you want to cite this article, cite it as follows:

Mkandawire, Sitwe Benson (2017). Familiar Language Based Instruction versus Unfamiliar Language for the Teaching of Reading and Writing Skills: A Focus on Zambian Languages and English at two Primary Schools in Lusaka. Zambian Journal of Language Studies, 1(1), 53-82. ISSN: 2415-668X.

The study presented among others, the significance of mother tongue based instruction (Zambian Language) in this case verse English language. The full article can be accessed from this link  https://sitwe.wordpress.com/2018/03/27/familiar-language-based-instruction-versus-unfamiliar-language-for-the-teaching-of-reading-and-writing-literacy-skills-a-focus-on-zambian-languages-and-english-at-two-primary-school-in-lusaka/. The following were the main points presented:

  1. Using unfamiliar language such as English for literacy education cripples and destroy the child’s productive and mental processes in education. This view was supported by Benzies (1940) who further noted that using an unknown language for early education as medium of instruction destroys his productive powers and holds his mental abilities. On the other hand, using mother tongue based instruction as a familiar language to a child empowers the child to think, act and processes information faster.
  2. Zambian languages such as Nyanja empowers pupils in class and the local people in general for mass mobilisation and active participation in the democratic and development of the country (Wakumelo, 2011). In other words, local languages empower citizens to participate effectively in economic, cultural, social and political matters of the country as they will be free to express themselves. At classroom level, local languages help a learner express himself freely.
  3. A country is nothing without its culture and local indigenous languages are a vehicle for transmission. Families tell their children different stories in local languages. Those stories constitute proverbs, riddles, myths, taboos and narratives of social conduct, morals and great heroes of their tradition. The languages they use in their homes, let them be used in education to empower learners and value their cultural heritage. Teaching in English language is as good as teaching English culture which differs in some way with Zambian culture. For instance, a woman can marry in English but she cannot in Nyanja or local languages.
  4. Teaching in local languages promotes an educational principle of moving from known to unknown so that a child can link the old with the new knowledge. Local languages promote and develop a sense of belong among citizens as there will be a feeling of closeness with one language, one tongue and one country. Tembo (1975) says it promotes quick learning on the part of learners.
  5. Teaching a child in unknown language burdens the child with two unknown things: The language itself and the subject matter to be learnt.
  6. Local languages facilitate easy access to information for all Zambians not only in class but also the fact that people can defend themselves in courts.
  7. Promoting local languages alongside English at national level will provide opportunity for generations to learn Zambian local languages and see the value attached to local languages.
  8. Promotion of local languages will equally help raise some critical consciousness in pupils and eventually allow Zambians to elect responsible and credible leaders in the country.
  9. Local languages will breaks class silence and the linguistic classes among Zambians and promote unity as more children in schools will become more literate to reason out issues at different levels.
  10. Promoting local languages will promote more employment or jobs for Zambians because more books will need to be written in local languages and media stations will need more people to translate various information.
  11. Allowing pupils to learn in their languages they use when playing allow them to actively participate in class than having passive ones as the case is in most cases in senior classes.
  12. Multilingualism should not be seen as a problem but as an asset as it helps people to look at a problem or issues from different perspectives. Teachers in grade one code switch languages to help learners learn.
  13. In education, some teachers cannot teach confidently because they are very competent and comfortable in using local languages. Many primary school classrooms have been characterized by teachers who do a lot of code switching: that is shifting from English to a Zambian language.
  14. Local languages can contribute to national development as they are a source of communication for the masses. For instance, politicians campaign using the same languages promising and urging communities what they should do to aid development. Local languages empower the masses to take part in many ventures at national level. They unlock thinking abilities in learners in schools and they are a source of cooperation and gives members of the community a sense of unit and identity.

 Recommendations

The study made the following recommendation:

  • The government should consider multilingual type of education system so that teachers should be free to translate and interpret information from one language to another in the same classroom. This means increasing the number of languages to be used as medium of instruction for teaching initial literacy in schools.
  • The government should introduce training programmes where teachers learn a variety of language so that they can be posted anywhere. This will make them fit in the bilingual, trilingual or multilingual language in education policies.
  • The government should allow the children write grade seven exams in local languages as the two years to learn English language is too short to warrant one to write an exam.
  • The government to encourage language in complementation kind of policy which is already working in Zambia today informally so that where English fails, Zambian languages can take over and vice versa.

 

References 

Adèr, H. J. (2008). Phases and initial steps in data analysis. Netherlands: Johannes van

Kessel Publishing.

Banda, D. (2008). Education for All and African Indigenous Knowledge Systems; The Case of

 the Chewa people of Zambia. Heinrich-Bocking Germany: Lap Lambert

Academic publishing GmbH & co. uk

Benzies, D. (1940). Learning Our Language. Newyork: Longman, Green and Co. LTD

Best, J. W., & Kahn, J. V. (2006 ). Research in Education. 10th ed. New York: Pearson & AB

Coolican, H. (2009). Research methods and statistics in Psychology. 5th Ed. London: Hodder

Education.

Cohen, L. & Manion, L.  (1994). Research Methods in Education. 4th Ed. London: Routledge.

Dakin, J., Tiffen, B. and Widdowson, H. C. (1968). Language in Education. London: Oxford

University Press.

Denzin N. & Lincoln Y. (Eds.) (2000). Handbook of Qualitative Research. London: Sage

Publication Inc.

Groebel, L. (1980). A Comparison of Students Reading Comprehension in their Native

Language with their reading comprehension in the target language. English

 Language Teaching Journal. 35 (1).

Lincoln, Y. and Guba, E. (2000). Paradigmatic Controversies, Contradictions, and Emerging

Confluences in Denzin, N and Lincoln, Y (ed.). Handbook of Qualitative

Research. London: Sage Publication Inc

Luangala, J. R. (2004). A Reading Culture in Zambia: An Alternative Explanation of Its

Absence. Seminar paper presented at the Department of Language and Social Sciences Education of the University of Zambia.

Mkandawire, S. B. (2015). The State of Affairs of Cultural Literacy in Zambia’s Multicultural

Education System. In A. L. Jotia and J. Dudu (Ed.), Multicultural Education Discourses: Breaking Barriers of Exclusion in Selected African Contexts (PP. 190-204). Windhoek, Namibia: Zebra publishing (Pty) LTD

Ministry of Education (1977). Educational Reform: Proposals and Recommendations. Lusaka:

Government Printer.

Nielsen, P., Barbara, N. (2013). A multilingual approach to languages and

literacy education: what can synthesising theories, research and practice achieve? Australia: Flinders University.

Nkosha, D. C. (1995). A comparison of an African Mother Tongue and English as Media of

 Instruction in Zambia. A research proposal at the University of Zambia.

Ohannessian, S. and Kashoki, M. E. (1978). Language in Education. London: International

African institute.

Simwiinga, J. (2003). Language Policy and Language Planning in Zambia: Past, Present and

Future. Seminar paper presented at the Department of Literature and languages of the University of Zambia.

Tembo, L. (1975). The Medium of Instruction. The Bulletin of the Zambian Language Group.

Vol.1 Number 1. Lusaka: University of Zambia.

Wakumelo-Nkolola, M. (2011). An Empowering Language Policy as Pre-requisite to Effective

Mobilisation of the Masses for Participation in the Democratic and Developmental process of the country. Seminar paper presented at the Department of Literature and languages of the University of Zambia.

Whiteley, W. H. (1971). Language Use and Social Change: Problems of Multilingualism

                        withspecial reference to Eastern Africa. London: IAI OUP.

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FAMILIAR LANGUAGE BASED INSTRUCTION VERSUS UNFAMILIAR LANGUAGE FOR THE TEACHING OF READING AND WRITING LITERACY SKILLS: A FOCUS ON ZAMBIAN LANGUAGES AND ENGLISH AT TWO PRIMARY SCHOOL IN LUSAKA

If you want to cite this article, use this:
Mkandawire, Sitwe Benson (2017). Familiar Language Based Instruction versus Unfamiliar Language for the Teaching of Reading and Writing Skills: A Focus on Zambian Languages and English at two Primary Schools in Lusaka. Zambian Journal of Language Studies, 1(1), 53-82. ISSN: 2415-668X.

Abstract

The article is a product of a research conducted to establish the educational value associated with mother tongue based instruction that is familiar to learners verses other languages such as English and local languages that are not familiar to learners as medium of instruction in the teaching of reading and writing literacy skills to grade one at primary level. This was a case study under qualitative research design of post-positivism knowledge generation paradigm. Data was collected from 67 respondents from two primary schools where at one school they used Nyanja as medium of instruction while at another school they used English language. The specific methods used to collect data were done through interviews, focus group discussions and observation of lessons. Some documents were also reviewed on the study related to the topic at hand. The study revealed that both Zambian languages (Nyanja) and English language played a significant role in literacy education as they both facilitated learning to some pupils and they were also a hindrance to some pupils. However, it was noted that children could not actively participate in the lessons offered in English language and they were more active in a Nyanja lesson. Furthermore, children could actively participate in answering teacher’s questions by using common Nyanja spoken in towns and cities when playing and not the chewa taught in schools. It is recommended that teachers at primary school level teaching grade ones should use multiple languages by translating statements, words and phrases from one language to the others which are spoken by pupils in class. This will easily help pupils to understand teaching points easily and would break into reading and writing skills faster.


 

Background

The Zambian education system recognizes a four-tier kind of hierarchy: Pre-school, Primary, Secondary and Ends at Tertiary level. It is characterized by what Banda (2008) calls a broad base type of education starting with formal primary level with a broad base surface and high levels of enrolments and ending with higher education levels with a sharp apex where there are few people completing tertiary levels of education. The drop out starts from primary school to senior secondary school is caused by a number of factors. Among these factors include huge numbers of pupils enrolled at primary level which cannot have adequate attention from the teachers on one to one basis every time they are in class. The methods and strategies used to teach these children on how to read and write might equally be faulty that could lead to pupils dropping out of school. Limited teaching and learning materials are all contributing to low literacy levels and massive dropout. Ill trained teachers is also be a major factor in the education system and finally the language of initial literacy instruction might be another major factor because if pupils are taught in a language (Zambian language or English) that they do not understand, it will always be a challenge for that learner to quickly learn how to read and write and eventually they might dropout from school.  The factors stated above would partly hinder learners to break through to reading and writing skills in most primary schools in Zambia.

Despite the factors stated above, more attention has been given issues of language and methodology used to teach multilingual classes. The questions are on which language of instruction is more appropriate for initial literacy education. Dakin (1968) contended that it does not really matter whether the child receives education through the medium of foreign language or his mother tongue. Scholars with this line of thought argued that if a foreign language attains the status of a second language and is given much power, it would be used as medium of instruction in education and the role it would play would be as good as the child’s mother tongue (Nkosha, 1995). These views were further supported by Groebel (1980) who conducted a study to establish if the level of reading comprehension in student’s mother tongue was the same or correlated with the level of reading comprehension in English language using a sample of first year university students who spoke Hebrew as mother tongue. The findings of this study were that a significant positive correlation did exist between a student’s level of reading comprehension in his mother tongue and his level of reading comprehension in a foreign language, English in this case.  It is, therefore, doubtful whether such evidence can be used to support the use of English language as medium of instruction to a grade one pupil in Zambian schools.

In reaction to Dakin and Groebel’s assertions, Benzies (1940), one of the earliest scholars who wrote in defence of the use of mother tongue as medium of instruction in Education, had this to say:

It is a universally acknowledged principle in modern education that a child should receive instruction both in and through his mother tongue and this privilege should not be withheld from the African child (Benzies, 1940 as quoted by Nkosha 1995:13).

Furthermore, using a language that is not known to the child as medium of instruction in school cripples and destroy his productive powers and it also holds back his mental and cognitive powers and processes. In most multilingual states in post-colonial nations in the early years of their independence, the government’s resolve to pick a second language such as English as the case was for Zambia, Kenyan and Malawi.  Simwiinga (2003:5) noted that “the reasons for selecting English as medium of instruction and for official use was for political expediency and not sociolinguistic one”.  This view was further stated by Ohannessian and Kashoki (1978) who noted that:

After independence, there was a new emphasis on English language. … The reasons behind all these were partly political and partly practical. On one hand, politicians striving for national unit, for suppression of tribalism, for rapid industrialisation and accelerated economic development…. On the other hand, the vast majority of the people wanted to enter quickly into material civilisation….

The preference for English language was common because some people thought and “felt that rapid development could effectively be archived through the English language” (Nkosha, 1995:10). In contrast, Simwiinga (2003) noted that although African countries  have embraced imported languages as tools for economic development and national unity, the languages have not effectively served the purpose because the limited number of nationals who are able to use them. On the other hand, when commenting on local languages, they stated that it would be too costly to produce materials in so many local language and that while learners may be conversant with local languages, teachers may not be and therefore, would not be comfortable to teach in local languages, (Ministry of Education, 1977). The policy of using English language as medium of instruction in Zambian schools was pronounce in 1966 and it was to be used as official language in government workplaces and Education from grade one to tertially levels and Zambian languages were to be taken as Subjects where local languages were allowed to be used. This was a common trend among post-colonial states as noted by Simwiinga (2003:7) who noted that:

It is safe to state that overall, the state of European languages in the post-colonial period in Zambia was favoured by the need to foster economic development and national unity on the premise that too many languages would create chaos.  

This decision on language choice was common among post-colonial states as noted by Kaplan and Baldauf (1997:94) who in support of the above statement had this say:

African governments predominantly use the imported languages of their former colonial powers and these are the languages that therefore prevail in national administration, in secondary and higher education, in modern literature….

This adoption of English in Zambia was a similar trend in most African countries. Few years later after the declaration of English as medium of instruction, there was massive drop out in literacy levels countrywide and more courses were introduced in Zambia’s education system such as Zambia Primary Course (ZPC) of 1967, Zambia Teacher Education Course  (ZATEC), Zambia Basic Education Course (ZBEC) and others. These courses were launched to help improve literacy levels in the country.

Recently, in many parts of the world, the issue of initial reading literacy for children has always attracted much attention from governments, civil society organizations, the public and private sector. This issue is well stated by Trudell (2013:1), who stated that:

Literacy in the early primary grades is receiving a great deal of attention among national and international education organizations in Africa. Assessment initiatives, such as those done by UWEZO in East Africa and those using the early grade reading assessment (EGRA) tool across the continent are raising serious questions about the effectiveness of literacy provision in the formal education system.

 

Furthermore, children’s scores in reading are proving to be lower than had been expected; the UWEZO Kenya report in 2011 noted that only 28 percent of the children in standard three can read a standard two level story (Mugo etal 2010:2). The UWEZO Tanzania 2010 report noted that 20 percent of primary school leavers in Tanzania cannot read grade two level Swahili (UWEZO Tanzania, 2010:2).

These statistics as reported by scholars and organisations from the neighbouring countries are not very different from the Zambia’s situation in the period from 1980s to 2015. The concerns about low literacy levels among primary school children were very high. Poor reading culture was noted in most Zambian including among secondary and tertiary students (Luangala, 2004).

The low reading and writing levels were noted by many researchers both Zambians and international ones including some government committees. For instance, a research study done by Eddy Williams who compared reading levels of lower grade children in Malawi and Zambia noted that literacy levels were very low among Zambian children as compared to the Malawian counterparts. He associated this low in literacy levels to the Language of instruction used to teach initial literacy. He reported that the Malawian children did better in reading because they learnt in a language familiar to them in class (Williams, 1993). Other studies by the Southern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality  [(SACMEQ), 1995], National Reading Committee (1997) and even later, National Assessment (2003) all showed very low reading levels among primary school children in Zambia. How low were these reading levels one would wonder? The studies cited about did indicate to what degree the reading levels were low and others expressed them in percentage form.

A research by Luangala (2011) reported that children were reading at three grade levels below their own level. In other words, a grade five pupil in class would prefer to read a grade 2 book and a grade six pupil would prefer to read a grade three text book. Furthermore, the Southern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality  reported that only 3% of children in Grade six were reading at desirable level, meaning reading at their grade level. The national reading committee (NRC) stated that about 70% of grade 7s were leaving school unable to read and write.

The lower rates in reading and writing levels amongst primary school going children in most cases is triggered by many factors such as lack of appropriate learning and teaching materials, improper teaching strategies and the diverse nature of these classrooms. The issues that inappropriate language of instruction and fault teaching strategies could be one of the major causes of poor literacy skills in Zambia.

Following the results from a series of studies, the Zambian government established two major literacy programmes to help improve literacy levels. While ZPC, ZIBEC and ZATEC courses used English as medium of instruction when teaching literacy skills, in the year 2000, a programme tagged Primary Reading Programme (PRP) was established which contained four courses as illustrated in figure 1 below.

Figure 1: PRP Courses

The Primary Reading Programme (PRP) courses key to abbreviations are as follows: NBTL stand for New Breakthrough to Literacy, SITE is Step into English, PWTE is Pathway to English and ROC is Read On Course. These courses were created to help improve literacy levels. Five to ten years after the programme started, there were a few challenges faced with programme and by 2013, a new programme was launched by the government tagged the Primary Literacy Programme (PLP) which was equally aimed at improving literacy levels in the country.

In the last two programmes, there was a shift in language of literacy instruction. In PRP, a familiar regional language was used in grade one only to teach reading and writing skills while in PLP, the policy was  stated in the National Literacy Framework (2013:13-14) for Zambia which stated that:

to support early literacy and later, English literacy instruction, Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education (MESVTEE) will introduce instruction in a familiar language so as to build learners’ arsenal for learning to read in other languages as well as learning content subjects.

Furthermore, the following table depicts the proposed language of instruction strategy in Zambia:

 

Grade Content Subjects and Literacy Language of instruction
1 All learning areas Local languages
2 All learning areas Local Languages
  Content subjects and Literacy in ZL Local Languages
  English Language and Oral Literacy English Language
3 Content subjects and Literacy in ZL Local Language
  English Language and Literacy English Language
4 Content subjects and Literacy in ZL Local Language
  English Language and Literacy English language
5 – 7 Content subjects English Language
  English English Language
  Zambian Languages Local Languages

This table suggest that there is a major shift in terms of language in education policy as the medium in this policy is that from Grade 1 to 4, children will be learning a local language.

 

The policy does not state which local languages but it is implied by the number of languages they have produced teaching and learning materials in. They have only selected the seven regional languages (Bemba, Kaonde, Lunda, Lozi, Luvale, Nyanja and Tonga). These are not the only local languages, familiar languages and mother tongues per se. Anyway, this is not the focus of this paper and the discussion is reserved for another paper.

 

Nielsen and Barbara (2013) observe that many times learners from multilingual classes face several challenges in grasping the content. The teachers find it hard to establish wide‐range on‐going student engagement activities and often fail to help students progress beyond simple pragmatic language use due to barriers in language of instruction and the choice of appropriate literacy teaching methods as the case of Zambia.

Statement of the Problem

It was not clear whether pupils would perform better if they were taught in a mother tongue which was familiar to them as compared to English as a second language which was not familiar as medium of instruction in class. In other words, the study wanted to establish if the use of Zambian Language such as Nyanja as language of instruction in grade 1 would enable pupils perform better than they would do if a second language such as English was used and vice versa.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study was to establish if the use of Zambian Language such as Nyanja as language of instruction in grade 1 would enable pupils perform better than they would do if a second language such as English was used and vice versa.

Research Objectives

This study aimed at addressing the following objectives:

  • to determine the nature of the classes in the two schools
  • to establish if the language of instruction at the two schools facilitated learning.
  • to ascertain the level of class participation on the part of pupils in class in the two schools.
  • to examine the attitude of pupils, parents and teachers towards the use of the chosen medium of instruction in the two schools.

Research questions

The study sought to respond to the following questions:

  • What was the nature of the classes in the two schools?
  • To what extent did the medium of instruction at the two schools facilitated learning?
  • What was the level of class participation on the part of pupils in class in the two schools?
  • What was the attitude of pupils, parents and teachers towards the use of the chosen medium of instruction in schools?

Research Methodology

Research Design

Sim and Wright (2000) define a research design as an overall plan and structure of a piece of research. This study will use qualitative research design. Denzin and Lincoln (2000:3) indicated that “qualitative research involves an interpretive and naturalistic approach: This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or to interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them”. They further indicate that it involves mainly interactive techniques such as interviews, observation and discussions, hence, the choice for this research design.

 Population

Best and Kahn (2006:13) define population as “any group of individuals that has one or more characteristics in common and that are of interest to the researcher”. These researchers suggest that a target population is a specific group of entities necessary for a particular project. In this study, the target population was all the pupils and teachers at the two target schools in Zambia.

 Sample Size

Cohen, Manion and Morrison (2007:100) noted that “a sample size of 30 is held by many to be a minimum number of cases if researchers plan to use some form of statistical analysis on their data .…”  In this study, data was collected from 67 respondents from two primary schools where at one school they used Nyanja as medium of instruction while at another school they used English language. The justification for having such a sample size is that firstly, it is scientifically supported by many scholars to be enough for statistical analysis. Secondly, by sample was representative enough for the population at the two schools and finally, in qualitative studies, numbers do not matter but quality and depth of the information collected.

Data Collection Techniques Used

Field data was collected in a space of two weeks using the following techniques:

Observation

This study employed the observation technique to see which languages were used in class, how pupils were participating in the lessons and how they were responding to the tasks given. Coolican (2009:123) indicate that “observational method involves watching and being with the people. Disclosed observation is where people know exactly what the observer is doing”.

Interviews

Coolican (2009:150) indicated that “the interview method involves asking people direct questions”. This study conducted face to face interviews with the sampled group of the population where the researcher asked specific questions to the subjects about the study.

Focus Group Discussions

This study conducted four focus group discussions two for pupils, one for parents and one for teachers. Wimmer and Dominic (1987:151) say

Focus groups or group interviewing is a research strategy for understanding audience/consumer attitudes and behavior. From 6 to 12 people are interviewed simultaneously with the moderator leading the respondents in a relatively free discussion about the focal topic.

Documents Review

Tesch (1990) observes that document review is a good method of collecting secondary data when answering research questions. It provides a useful check on information that is in existence already relating to your study. For this study, many documents were reviewed to strengthen the study and for triangulation purposes.

 

These techniques listed above entails that triangulation data collection strategy was employed which according to Yin (1994) is used to validate the collected data. This view is also supported by Patton (1990) who indicates that using the triangulation method of data collection entails that multiple sources of information are sought and used because there is no single source of information that can be trusted to provide a comprehensive perspective of the information collected on a particular research project.

Data analysis

Ader (2008:333) describes research data analysis as “a process of inspecting, cleaning, transforming, and modelling data with the goal of highlighting useful information, suggesting conclusions, and supporting decision making”. These views are further supported by Lewis and Michael (1995) who says data analysis is done in a variety of ways depending on the instruments used to collect data and how the researcher want the information to be presented.in this study, data was analysed using thematic analysis where similar themes were discussed under similar headings with respect to the questions.

Findings and Discussion of the study

The findings and discussion of the study have been presented with respect to research objectives and questions. Some themes that emanated from data analysis have also been utilized. It is also important to note that the research objectives and questions have been framed as themes for purposes of data presentation in this section.

 

Participants of the study

Twelve teachers were involved in the study, three school managers two head teachers and one deputy head teacher. Forty-two pupils were involved in the study and ten selected parents to the children in the two target schools. Table 1 below summarizes the nature of the study participants.

Table 1: Nature of Participants

  Research participant Total Number
1 School managers or Head teachers/Deputy 3
2 Parents to the children in two schools 10
3 Teachers involved 12
4 Pupils that took part 42
  Total Research participants 67

It is important to note that the number of pupils is more than the stated above as most pupils were observed outside the two schools playing in their natural languages. For purposes of this study, a few notable ones discussing outside were remotely counted to establish this number plus a few involved in the two focus group discussions. In terms of gender, figure 1 below reflect the nature of participants.

Figure 1: Gender of Participants

Nature of the classes in the two target schools

The classes in the two target schools contained a number students with different language backgrounds. For instance, at a private school, there were 28 pupils in class. Out of these, eighteen (18) spoke five different Zambian languages as their first languages or mother tongue and they mostly used Nyanja and a little bit of English and Bemba language when playing outside the school set up and ten (10) spoke English as their first languages. On the other hand, in a government school, there were seventy-nine (79) pupils in class. There were eight languages spoken in class and most of the children spoke Nyanja in class and when playing outside the school. One of the respondent during the interview had this to say “in this class children speak different languages and some of them I do not even understand them but Nyanja is the main one”. This multilingual nature of these classes agrees with Mkandawire (2015:190) who noted that:

Zambia like many other African countries is a multi-lingual and multi-cultural society in the sense that there are many languages and dialects that are spoken within the borders of the country.   

This view also agrees with Simwiinga (2003) who noted that there are seventy-three language and dialects spoken within Zambia and each of these languages are important as they are used for communication.

Whether language of classroom instruction facilitated learning or not.

There were two situations that arose from the two schools. The first one was that, at a private school, the teacher was very consistent in using English as medium of instruction in class without making any reference to any other language. The second situation was that in a government school, the teacher used three languages when teaching. Nyanja was the official language for literacy instruction at that school but the teacher could also switch to Bemba and English language occasionally to help pupils that spoke other languages as their familiar languages to understand. Some of the respondents had this to say:

Much of the time we use Nyanja as this is the official language and it is the language that is understood by most learners in class. They also use it when playing outside the school set up. However, occasionally, we switch to other languages such as Bemba, English and Tonga which some of us know already to help pupils understand the lesson or what we are teaching.

In other words, the languages used as medium of instruction in the two target schools are English language for a private school and Nyanja language for the government school. Occasionally, teachers could code switch to other languages that pupils spoke in class to help them understand at a public school.

On whether English language or Nyanja was a barrier to learning on the part of pupils, one of the respondents noted that:

I think that Nyanja is a very good medium of instruction as most pupils at this school literary use Nyanja when playing and when answering questions in class. Most pupils follow what is taught in class in Nyanja however, there are a few pupils who speak other languages who have challenges in understanding Nyanja. Furthermore, for some pupils who speak town or common Nyanja which is diluted, they find it difficult to follow some Nyanja words and phrases that is used in class because it is unfamiliar to them.

This means that both English and local languages (Nyanja) in this case can be a barrier to learning as they can be unfamiliar languages to the pupils that do not speak them. In other words, local languages which are unfamiliar to some pupils are a barrier to learning. In this case, they play the same role as English language except that more pupils in that class speak the local language.

Level of class participation by pupils in class at the two schools

In comparing the English class to the Nyanja class from the two schools, there were two interesting observations noted: The first one was based on what happened at a private school where English language was used as medium of instruction while the second one was at a school where Nyanja was medium of instruction.

 

On one hand, the situation at a private school where English language was used as medium of instruction was that whenever the teacher asked a question in English language, there were three to five pupils who were rightly responding to the questions. They were the same pupils which kept on responding to the questions from the teacher. When the teacher pointed at other pupils, the pupils could either keep quiet or give a contrary response. The majority of the pupils could respond mainly to common and straight forward questions such as ‘have you understood?’. Furthermore, some pupils in class especially at the back where I sat were talking using Nyanja, Bemba and a few in English language to ask their friends to move and others. When the teacher showed them a picture from a book for pupils to state what it was, some pupils gave responses in local languages. Pupils here successfully imitated the teacher using a number of drills.

 

On the other hand, the situation at a public school where Nyanja language was used as medium of instruction was that whenever the teacher asked a question in Nyanja language, there were several hands of pupils who wanted to respond to the teacher’s questions. Sometimes the pupils could respond to the teachers’ questions in chorusing at the same time just after the question. They could describe the images they saw on a chart displaced to them in class by the teacher in Nyanja while a few others could state them in other local languages. Pupils in this situation could quickly describe the sounds made for example by a snake and other objects like situation one above. They could also imitate the teacher successfully.

 

There are several implications of these findings regarding medium of instruction in class. The situation learnt from the two classes is a replication of what happens at national level when debates about the constitution, homosexuality and other  social themes erupts.  Very few Zambians actively take part in the debates and discussions that take place in English language.

 

Attitude of parents and teachers towards the use of the chosen medium of instruction at the two schools

In an interview with a primary school teacher, she indicated that there was no problem in using Nyanja as it is a language which pupils used when playing in class as well as outside the classroom. Furthermore, she had this to say:

When I teach them in Nyanja they heavily take part in the lesson and they answer questions quickly, do their tasks on time. Most of them easily follow what I teach them and this is grade one term two, some pupils have known how to read already.

The argument that Nyanja is a language of play for pupils in Lusaka was also reported by Mwanza (2012) wo noted that Nyanja was a major language of play for most pupils in a cosmopolitan city of Lusaka. Furthermore, another teacher noted that both pupils and teachers enjoy lessons offered in Nyanja because they know and understand what they are doing in class. It helps them to think fast and pick up pieces together.

 

In an interview with a school manager, she noted that “local languages like Nyanja help most pupils to quickly break through to reading and writing skill as they easily understand what they learn in class”. This view is also supported by Nkosha (1996) as noted in the background that mother tongue based instruction help pupils quickly learn how to read and write.

 

On a contrary view, a focus group discussion with some parents revealed that some parents did not want their children to learn in any Zambian language as they just wanted their children to be associated with English language. One of the respondent had this to say:

what will my child gain by learning in Nyanja? Everywhere you go they employ people with English this is why I got him from that school to here so that we do not talk about Nyanja again.

This parent was supported by another one who had this to share “we were just transferred from North-western to here and my child only speak Lunda and English, if he is given Nyanja class it will be worse”. This is not all, another respondent in an interview indicated raised the following:

These people want our children to learn in Nyanja up to grade 4, how will the children write the examination in grade twelve in English if they cannot speak it or write it well. This will confuse our children as two years of English before they write grade seven examination is too is short to pass the exam.

These statements from parents suggests that the current language policy for initial literacy education has not been welcomed well by some Zambians. These parents criticised the government for allowing pupils to learn in local languages from grades 1-4 as outlined in the policy 2013 national literacy framework policy.

 

It is important to realise that the restless debates on whether or not Zambian languages are needed for teaching reading and writing skills in primary schools of Zambia as noted by some parents are merely a parental attitude cancer.  This cancer is still a serious disease that has masked the faces of minority urban communities in towns and cities especially families of the crossroads. The mask does not distinguish what is good and bad for the innocent child but it is there because one is a parent. Being a parent is one thing and deciding what is good for a child is another issue. Combining the two should always work to the advantage of the innocent child and not vice versa. This situation in Zambia is a serious oxymoron when it comes to issues of political will because much literature about multilingual states such as those by Whiteley (1971), Ellis and Tomlinson (1980), Wilkins (1972), Ohannesian and Kashoki (1978) reported that most multilingual states in Africa takes on a European language as medium of instruction from early grades to university due to political reasons and other factors.

 

The alleged blame on government for introducing a new language policy in Zambia is totally misplaced. The current literacy policy is not new at all. It started as early as 1880s when the missionaries were teaching in local languages in the earliest schools which were established (Manchishi, 2004). For instance, In 1927 to 1928, the Advisory Board of Native Education of Northern Rhodesia made a decision and recommended four local languages to be used as medium of instruction in schools from grade one to four. These were; Sikolo (lozi) in Barotse Land, Chitonga-Chila in North western Rhodesia, Chibemba in north eastern rhodesia west of Luangwa and Chinyanja in north eastern rhodesia east of Luangwa (Ohennessiaan & Kashoki 1978:287). These languages were further increased after independence to seven and later awarded the regional official languages in Zambia.  This development so far is a good sign for Zambia as it is moving towards sustainable future through multilingual education.

Summary of the Findings

The study noted that the nature of the classes in the two schools were generally multilingual and the language used as medium of instruction was English for a private school and Nyanja plus other languages for a public school. It was noted that the attitude of some parents was not good towards local languages and the policy. It was also noted that in classes where local languages such as Nyanja was used, most pupils were very active in class as compared to those in English language class. In other words, the findings of the study on the significance of mother tongue based instruction verse English language revealed that the following in summary:

  • Using unfamiliar language such as English for literacy education cripples and destroy the child’s productive and mental processes in education. This view was supported by Benzies (1940) who further noted that using an unknown language for early education as medium of instruction destroys his productive powers and holds his mental abilities. On the other hand, using mother tongue based instruction as a familiar language to a child empowers the child to think, act and processes information faster.
  • Zambian languages such as Nyanja empowers pupils in class and the local people in general for mass mobilisation and active participation in the democratic and development of the country (Wakumelo, 2011). In other words, local languages empower citizens to participate effectively in economic, cultural, social and political matters of the country as they will be free to express themselves. At classroom level, local languages help a learner express himself freely.
  • A country is nothing without its culture and local indigenous languages are a vehicle for transmission. Families tell their children different stories in local languages. Those stories constitute proverbs, riddles, myths, taboos and narratives of social conduct, morals and great heroes of their tradition. The languages they use in their homes, let them be used in education to empower learners and value their cultural heritage. Teaching in English language is as good as teaching English culture which differs in some way with Zambian culture. For instance, a woman can marry in English but she cannot in Nyanja or local languages.
  • Teaching in local languages promotes an educational principle of moving from known to unknown so that a child can link the old with the new knowledge. Local languages promote and develop a sense of belong among citizens as there will be a feeling of closeness with one language, one tongue and one country. Tembo (1975) says it promotes quick learning on the part of learners.
  • Teaching a child in unknown language burdens the child with two unknown things: The language itself and the subject matter to be learnt.
  • Local languages facilitate easy access to information for all Zambians not only in class but also the fact that people can defend themselves in courts.
  • Promoting local languages alongside English at national level will provide opportunity for generations to learn Zambian local languages and see the value attached to local languages.
  • Promotion of local languages will equally help raise some critical consciousness in pupils and eventually allow Zambians to elect responsible and credible leaders in the country.
  • Local languages will breaks class silence and the linguistic classes among Zambians and promote unity as more children in schools will become more literate to reason out issues at different levels.
  • Promoting local languages will promote more employment or jobs for Zambians because more books will need to be written in local languages and media stations will need more people to translate various information.
  • Allowing pupils to learn in their languages they use when playing allow them to actively participate in class than having passive ones as the case is in most cases in senior classes.
  • Multilingualism should not be seen as a problem but as an asset as it helps people to look at a problem or issues from different perspectives. Teachers in grade one code switch languages to help learners learn.
  • In education, Teachers cannot teach confidently because they are very competent and comfortable in using local languages. Many primary school classrooms have been characterized by teachers who do a lot of code switching: that is shifting from English to a Zambian language.
  • Local languages can contribute to national development as they are a source of communication for the masses, politicians campaign using the same languages promising and urging communities what they should do to aid development. Local languages empower the masses to take part in many ventures at national level. They unlock thinking abilities in learners in schools and they are a source of cooperation and gives members of the community a sense of unit and identity.

 

 

 

Recommendations

The study makes the following recommendation:

  • The government should consider multilingual type of education system so that teachers should be free to translate and interpret information from one language to another in the same classroom. This means increasing the number of languages to be used as medium of instruction for teaching initial literacy in schools.
  • The government should introduce training programmes where teachers learn a variety of language so that they can be posted anywhere. This will make them fit in the bilingual, trilingual or multilingual language in education policies.
  • The government should allow the children write grade seven exams in local languages as the two years to learn English language is too short to warrant one to write an exam.
  • The government to encourage language in complementation kind of policy which is already working in Zambia today informally so that where English fails, Zambian languages can take over and vice versa.

 

References 

Adèr, H. J. (2008). Phases and initial steps in data analysis. Netherlands: Johannes van

Kessel Publishing.

Banda, D. (2008). Education for All and African Indigenous Knowledge Systems; The Case of

 the Chewa people of Zambia. Heinrich-Bocking Germany: Lap Lambert

Academic publishing GmbH & co. uk

Benzies, D. (1940). Learning Our Language. Newyork: Longman, Green and Co. LTD

Best, J. W., & Kahn, J. V. (2006 ). Research in Education. 10th ed. New York: Pearson & AB

Coolican, H. (2009). Research methods and statistics in Psychology. 5th Ed. London: Hodder

Education.

Cohen, L. & Manion, L.  (1994). Research Methods in Education. 4th Ed. London: Routledge.

Dakin, J., Tiffen, B. and Widdowson, H. C. (1968). Language in Education. London: Oxford

University Press.

Denzin N. & Lincoln Y. (Eds.) (2000). Handbook of Qualitative Research. London: Sage

Publication Inc.

Groebel, L. (1980). A Comparison of Students Reading Comprehension in their Native

Language with their reading comprehension in the target language. English

 Language Teaching Journal. 35 (1).

Lincoln, Y. and Guba, E. (2000). Paradigmatic Controversies, Contradictions, and Emerging

Confluences in Denzin, N and Lincoln, Y (ed.). Handbook of Qualitative

Research. London: Sage Publication Inc

Luangala, J. R. (2004). A Reading Culture in Zambia: An Alternative Explanation of Its

Absence. Seminar paper presented at the Department of Language and Social Sciences Education of the University of Zambia.

Mkandawire, S. B. (2015). The State of Affairs of Cultural Literacy in Zambia’s Multicultural

Education System. In A. L. Jotia and J. Dudu (Ed.), Multicultural Education Discourses: Breaking Barriers of Exclusion in Selected African Contexts (PP. 190-204). Windhoek, Namibia: Zebra publishing (Pty) LTD

Ministry of Education (1977). Educational Reform: Proposals and Recommendations. Lusaka:

Government Printer.

Nielsen, P., Barbara, N. (2013). A multilingual approach to languages and

literacy education: what can synthesising theories, research and practice achieve? Australia: Flinders University.

Nkosha, D. C. (1995). A comparison of an African Mother Tongue and English as Media of

 Instruction in Zambia. A research proposal at the University of Zambia.

Ohannessian, S. and Kashoki, M. E. (1978). Language in Education. London: International

African institute.

Simwiinga, J. (2003). Language Policy and Language Planning in Zambia: Past, Present and

Future. Seminar paper presented at the Department of Literature and languages of the University of Zambia.

Tembo, L. (1975). The Medium of Instruction. The Bulletin of the Zambian Language Group.

Vol.1 Number 1. Lusaka: University of Zambia.

Wakumelo-Nkolola, M. (2011). An Empowering Language Policy as Pre-requisite to Effective

Mobilisation of the Masses for Participation in the Democratic and Developmental process of the country. Seminar paper presented at the Department of Literature and languages of the University of Zambia.

Whiteley, W. H. (1971). Language Use and Social Change: Problems of Multilingualism

                        withspecial reference to Eastern Africa. London: IAI OUP.

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2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 170,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 7 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Theories of Literacy and Theories of Literacy Development

Reference as: Mkandawire, S. B. (2015). LTC 1000 Theories of Literacy and Theories of Literacy Development. The University of Zambia Lecture notes for week 9. Retrieved from https://sitwe.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/306/

What is a Theory?
A theory is an idealized representation of reality that help us explain some natural phenomena. It is an idea or thought pattern about a particular subject matter and how it should be perceived. Campbell & Zazkis (2002) contended that theories are like toothbrushes where everyone has their own and no one wants to use anyone else’s theory. Read the following theories or views or ideas from http://www.public.asu.edu/~petergo/courses/eng556/556.html

There are other theories or views on what literacy is or should be and all these depend on how individuals in different field view the concept of literacy.
6.3 Theories of Literacy Development
There are a number of theories associated with literacy development. These theories are based on people’s ideas about early literacy development and how children learn. In trying to discuss the subject matter, we explore by asking ourselves a number of questions such how our ideas about early literacy have developed. What researchers and educators have influenced the way reading and writing are approached today? It is important for teachers who work with young children and their families to be familiar with the history of early literacy as a foundation for current practices (http://www.education.com/reference/article/early-literacy/).
Theories of literacy development include the following: Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development, Maturation Theory, Theory of Literacy Development, Stage Models of Reading, Emergent Literacy Theory, and Family Literacy Theory. These theories help us explain how literacy development in children is done in the early years of education.
6.3.1 Piaget’s theory of Cognitive Development
The cognitive development theory by Jean Piaget contends that there are different phases of intellectual development and each stage is associated with certain behavioural activities. It is these activities that guide educators and theorists in literacy on what is and what is not tenable. Educationalists using this theory believe that the nature of content that is given to pupils for learning must relate their level of intellectual development. In other ways, the emphasis is sequencing learner’s activities based on their stages of intellectual development. This position is based on Piaget’s theory that children’s cognitive growth occurs in a sequential pattern through four related stages. In this way, what and how a child learns is determined largely by the child’s present stage of development. The Theory of Cognitive Development was conceptualized by Jean Piaget in 1969 who is classified as both a constructivist an a developmental theorist. It is one of the most famous theories used to explain children’s overall cognitive development. It can be used by literacy educators to understand the learning stages though which students’ progress as they mature and their relationship to literacy achievement.

Jean Piaget’s theory of Cognitive Development describes the ways in which the quality of children’s thinking changes over time based on their intellectual development. According to Piaget, there are four factors that affect the quality of an individual’s thinking: biological maturation, activity, social experiences and equilibration. All these factors are linked to Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development as discussed by Godwin, Herb, Ricketts & Wymer (2013) namely:
1. Sensorimotor stage (birth to 2 years of age) – Children use sensory exploration of the world: They do not use or have language skills and are dependent on their senses. Class activities for literacy development in this stage include: (i) Board books with brightly colored pictures and (ii) Books with sound, things to touch, or smell
2. Preoperational stage (2 to 7 years of age) – There is rapid language development skills in this stage as children begin to categorize things with words. Literacy activities include story book reading and discussing the story
3. Concrete Operational (7 to 11 years of age) – In this stage of development, children use concrete objects to begin to think about abstract concepts. Activities for Literacy development include Graphic Organizers {Venn Diagrams, Flow Maps}and others.
4. Formal Operational (11 years of age to adult) – In this stage, children use language in an abstract way. Activities for Literacy include the use of metacognitive reading strategies helps students to “think about their thinking” before and after they read. Examples: Making Inferences and Summarizing information.
A literacy study that was conducted using theory of Cognitive Development concluded that the mental age of six and half year old child performed better on reading achievement than younger children (https://prezi.com/a4yxj-rcptjs/theories-of-literacy-development/). Using this research and other related studies resolved that in applying Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development, the following should be observed for literacy education:
(i) reading instruction should not be implemented until students reached the age of 6 1/2 years of age
(ii) Initial literacy activities that are given to children at home must be linked or related to the level of child’s intellectual development. Other studies recommendations suggested that parents should not attempt to teach reading to their children at home as educators would cause damage to children’s reading ability if they attempted to teach reading to children who were too young.
(iii) Reading abilities are linked to Maturation Theory which believe learning to read is viewed as a natural developmental occurrence. Furthermore, theorists believed that learning to read begins in the home when children first see their parents read and have stories read to them. In other ways, parents here are the models for children and children strive to emulate what their parents do by all means necessary. Emulation results in children’s first attempts at reading, which are usually quite inaccurate and parents should reinforce children’s first attempts at reading. As children’s attempts at reading are reinforced, their skills develop, and children begin to read for real and this is linked to the theory of Literacy Development which purport that the ways in which children approach the task of reading qualitatively change as they mature (https://prezi.com/a4yxj-rcptjs/theories-of-literacy-development/).
The site further reported that theorists believe that as children’s reading skills develop, they increase both the number and type of strategies they can use during reading experiences
Four stages of word development stages are discussed:
1. Pre-alphabetic Stage, 2. Partial Alphabetic Stage, 3. Full Alphabetic Stage and 4. The Consolidated Alphabetic Stage. This is what is known as the Stage Models of Reading which explains literacy development and provides instructional guidance to promote early literacy growth. The emphasis on these stages is the period in a child’s life between birth and when the child can read and write at a desirable level or in a conventional manner.

6.3.2 Maturation Theory
The maturation theory states that Children would be ready to read when they have developed certain prerequisite skills and there is little that teachers and parents can do to hurry the process of cognitive development. In other ways, the theory advocate for not teaching reading until children were mature enough for instruction. Scholars for this theory hypothesized that this could happen when children were at mental age of 6 1/2. Aldridge & Goldman (2007) noted that the Maturational Theory of child development was developed by Arnold Gesell with his colleagues including Morphette and Washburne who constructed a set of behavioral norms that illustrate sequential and predictable patterns of growth and development. Gesell contended that all children go through similar stages, although each child may move through these stages at their own rate (Godwin, Herb, Ricketts & Wymer, 2013).
6.3.3 Theory of Literacy Development
The theory was developed by Holdaway in 1979 and it states that learning to read was a natural development that is closely linked to a child’s natural development of oral language skills. Holdaway’s theory of literacy further contends that literacy development begins in children’s homes and is based on meaningful learning experiences. There are four key components in this theory as itemized by (Godwin etal, 2013):
(a) observation -which demand that children need to have the opportunity to observe literacy behaviours from others. For example, parents and siblings to read for them.
(b) Collaboration – this require that children need to interact with others who provide encouragement and help with the reading process.
(c) Practice – children need the opportunity to practice alone in order to self-evaluate, make corrections and increase their skills independently.
(d) Performance – children need the opportunity to share their new reading skills with those who support them.

It is important to note that these components are linked to the child’s natural development occurrence which begins at home which leads to a gradual formation of literacy development practices. The classroom application or characteristics of natural literacy development include;
i. Rich home literacy environment
ii. Parent – Child interactions of modeling literacy behaviors
iii. Rich literacy classroom environment by
 Labeling key items around the room
 Wide variety of high quality reading materials
 Meaningful language experiences
 Use of big books and shared reading
Holdaway highly recommends the use of big books and shared reading to foster natural literacy development. He believes big books can create the same positive feelings about story time that children have when they read at home. He believes that these natural storytelling times build student’s oral language, print tracking, concept of letters, and words (Godwin etal, 2013).

6.3.4 Stages Model of Reading
Stage Model theorists such as Frith (1985), Ehri (1991), and Gough, Joel & Griffith (1992), believe that children’s reading is in stages of word identification and that students increase the number of strategies used during reading as their reading skills develop. Lower staged reading strategies remain available to a reader as they incorporate more difficult reading skills in later strategies. Chall (1983) as quoted by Godwin etal, (2013) noted that there are four Stages of Word Identification: 1. Pre – Alphabetic Stage 2. Partial Alphabetic Stage 3. Full Alphabetic Stage 4. Consolidated Alphabetic Stage, also available on the following site (http://www.tiki-toki.com/timeline/entry/92488/Theories-of-Literacy-Development/).
The four stages of word identification as discussed by (Godwin etal, 2013) have been expanded in detail:
(i) Pre – Alphabetic Stage {Logographic Stage}. This stage is associated with a number of feature which include the following: (a) Visual cues are primary method of word identification (b) One might memorize words by their shape or “look” (c) Use of environmental print and logos (d) Word Identification is not yet related to letter – sound knowledge. Class activities for Literacy in this stage include collecting samples of Environmental Print to display in the classroom.

(ii) Partial Alphabetic Stage. This stage according to Godwin etal (2013) uses “Phonetic Cue Reading” which further demand the use of some letter – sound cues. First letter of the word and then use just a letter or two as children develop.

(iii) Full Alphabetic Stage. In this stage students relies more on letter – sound knowledge. Student tries to process all the letters in a word and a child may become tied to letter-by-letter reading which slows down the reading process. Class activities for Literacy here includes: Puzzles, Word Card Games, Magnetic Letters, Alphabet Books. Magazine Search, Letter Bingo and Word Sort: Beginning, Middle, and End Sounds

(iv) Consolidated Alphabetic Stage. Here there is automatic knowledge of sound – letter relationships. Students read letter patterns within words and they use word family knowledge to aid the reading process. Activities for Literacy include word Wheels, Word Family Sorts, Poetry, Flip Books (Godwin etal, 2013

6.3.5 Family Literacy Theory
Godwin etal, (2013) contended that family literacy refers to a series of ideas that researchers share, including the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs to help facilitate literacy development of family members; the relationship between family literacy and student achievement; and the ways in which literacy is naturally used in the home. This theory stresses the importance of family involvement on student achievement. The actions to encourage Family Literacy include;
i. Create a two – way street between parents and teachers in order to gain information about literacy in the home.
ii. Teach parents about the school culture and necessary skills for a student to be successful.
iii. Help parents understand what they can do at home to help support and encourage their children’s academic success. Many studies have been done on parent and child reading interactions to support the importance of the connection between home and school.
iv. Parent Volunteers Reading in the Classroom

6.3.6 Emergent Literacy Theory
The Emergent Literacy Theory states that there are levels of literacy behaviours which children acquire before they formally get into classroom which facilitates the acquisition of reading and writing skills at a conventional level. Emergent literacy theorists believe that literacy development starts in the maternity ward and is continuous and ongoing. This early literacy development provides educators with instructional guidance to promote early literacy growth among their students. Theorists believe that children’s development in the areas of listening, speaking, reading, and writing are all interrelated (http://www.tiki-toki.com/timeline/entry/92488/Theories-of-Literacy-Development/). In other ways, Emergent Literacy Theorists believe that children’s listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills begin at birth, it also emphasizes the importance of a literacy rich home environment. Components of a literacy rich home environment include; having large number of books available in the home, Newspapers and Magazines, Parents read a variety of materials and Reading is associated with pleasure, Parents frequently read to children.

Marie Clay’s studies on emergent literacy indicated that children know a great deal about reading and writing before they come to school, and they are able to experiment with and apply their knowledge in various ways (Clay, 1975). Reading readiness seemed to be an inaccurate term, since Clay’s research showed that there was not a specific sequence of skills children needed to master prior to reading and writing. The children she studied seemed instead to “emerge” into literacy—with writing, reading, and oral language abilities developing together.
Emergent literacy was recently defined as “the view that literacy learning begins at birth and is encouraged through participation with adults in meaningful activities; these literacy behaviors change and eventually become conventional over time” (Neuman, Copple, & Bredekamp, 2000, p. 123). From a very young age, children who are exposed to oral and written language gradually gain control over the forms of literacy. Print-related knowledge develops similarly to the way children learn oral language (Morrow, 1997). When children are actively engaged with interesting and meaningful reading and writing experiences, they develop literacy knowledge early in their lives.
6.3.7 Everyday Theories
These are ideas which individual people have about certain things in the society and how they impinge on people’s lives. Everybody makes theories almost every day about certain practices, values and norm in the society. These theories are not known to many people and they are not conventional in nature as they may be known to one person only (Barton, 2007).
6.3.8 Professional Theories
These are conventionally recognized theories worldwide such as those discussed above. In other ways, examples of professional theories include Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development, Maturation Theory, Theory of Literacy Development, Stage Models of Reading, Emergent Literacy Theory, and Family Literacy Theory.

References
Aldridge, j. & R. L. Goldman (2007). Current Issues and Trends in Education. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

Barton, D. (2007). Literacy: An introduction to the ecology of the written Language. 2nd Ed.
USA. Blackwell Publishing.

Campbell, S. R., & Zazkis, R. (2002). Toward number theory as a conceptual field. In S. R. Campbell & R. Zazkis (Eds.) Learning and teaching number theory: Research in cognition and instruction (pp. 1-14). Westport, CT: Ablex Publishing.

Godwin, E., Herb, B., Ricketts, A. & Wymer, S. (2013). Theories of Literacy Development 1930s – Present Day. Available at http//:hillerspires.wikispaces.com/file/view/Theories%

Lilly, E. & Green, C. (2004). Developing Partnerships with Families through Children’s Literature. Boston: Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall

http://www.education.com/reference/article/early-literacy/
http//:hillerspires.wikispaces.com/file/view/Theories%2Bof%2BLiteracy%2BDevelopmentm

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Types of Literacy or Literacies

Reference as: Mkandawire, S. B. (2015). LTC 1000 Types of Literacy or Literacies. The University of Zambia Lecture notes for week 2. Retrieved from https://sitwe.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/types-of-literacy-or-literacies/

Types of Literacy
In today’s world, there are different forms and types of literacies that people in different fields talk of in the society. By now, you must have heard or used some type of these types of literacy in the society. Lets consider some of the most common discussed types of literacies.
(a) Conventional Literacy is a type of literacy that deals with reading and writing skills of letters in a particular language. It involves issues such as knowing the alphabet, phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics that govern the reading and writing skills in a conventional manner. McGee and Richgels (1996:30) describe the use of conventional literacy in terms of the behavior manifested by readers, “Conventional readers and writers read and write in ways that most people in our literate society recognize as ‘really’ reading and writing. For example, they use a variety of reading strategies, know hundreds of sight words, read texts written in a variety of structures, are aware of audience, monitor their own performances as writers and readers, and spell conventionally.”

(b) Emergent Literacy is a type of literacy that deals with the earliest behaviors that relate to a kind of literacy in form of the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that are manifested before the actual conventional level of literacy is attained. The term was first used in 1966 by a New Zealand researcher Marie Clay to describe the behaviors seen in young children when they use books and writing materials to imitate reading and writing activities, even though the children cannot actually read and write in the conventional sense (Ramsburg, 1998). Today the term has expanded in usage. Sulzby and Teale (1996: 728) “Emergent literacy is concerned with the earliest phases of literacy development, the period between birth and the time when children read and write conventionally. The term emergent literacy signals a belief that, in a literate society, young children even one and two year olds, are in the process of becoming literate”.

(c) Initial Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at the time or stage an individual learns or is expected to learn the basics or the process of acquiring basic skills in a particular field such as reading and writing in a particular language. It is a critical foundation of conventional literacy as it has to do with knowing expected skills in a conventional manner.

(d) Basic Literacy – refer to a type of knowledge that is expected to be known by everyone in a particular field. In the world today, people expects everyone to know basics of conventional literacy that is to know how to read and write. For example, everyone is expected to know how to read and write as a basic literacy skill.

(e) Functional Literacy – A type of literacy that deals with application of conventional form of literacy such as reading and writing well enough to understand signs, read newspaper headings, read labels on medicine bottles, make shopping lists, read Bible, write letters, fill in forms, apply for jobs, practice the language skills verbally & in written form, reading for pleasure and purposive writing. Functional Literacy – A type or type of literacy that prepares an individual to engage in all those activities available in his or her group and community and also for enabling him or her to continue to use reading, writing and calculation for his or her own and the community’s development. Functional literacy as noted by different scholars is used for different activities in the society. Gray (1956:21) notes: Functional literacy is used for the training of adults to ‘meet independently the reading and writing demands placed on them’. Currently, the phrase describes those approaches to literacy which stresses the acquisition of appropriate verbal, cognitive, and computational skills to accomplish practical ends in culturally specific settings.

(f) Critical literacy – A type of literacy that involves interpreting a piece more than mere piece of work such as determining what effect a writer is attempting to bring about in readers, why he or she is making that effort and just who those readers are. According to (Freire, 1970) Critical Literacy looks at the teaching of critical consciousness skills relating to an individual’s ability to perceive social, political, and economic oppression and to take action against the oppressive elements of society. The concept of critical consciousness (conscientization) was developed by Paulo Freire primarily in his books: Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Education for Critical Consciousness, Kirkendall (2004). The emphasis here is in an individual’s ability to use reading, writing, and thinking, listening, speaking, and evaluating skills in order to effectively interact, construct meaning, and communicate for real-life situations. An active literate person is constantly thinking, learning, reflecting, and is assuming the responsibility for continued growth in their own literacy development. Critical literacy involves the analysis and critique of the relationships among texts, language, power, social groups and social practices. It shows us ways of looking at written, visual, spoken, multimedia and performance texts to question and challenge the attitudes, values and beliefs that lie beneath the surface.

(g) Aliteracy – refer to a level of conventional literacy analysis that deals with literate individuals who are lazy to apply reading and writing skills regularly. In other ways, an alliterate person is he or she who knows how to read and write but cannot apply this skill to read a book, an article, a newspaper and other written materials.

(h) Profession Literacy – A type of knowledge specialized in a particular field or profession. It looks at individuals specialized in particular professions such as; Medical profession, teaching profession, legal profession and others.

(I) Legal Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at law related knowledge, skills and proficiency an individual may possess in executing legal related matters. The difference between a lawyer and a client is the knowledge gap between them that the lawyer possess which the client doesn’t have.

(J) Medical Literacy – A type of literacy that fall under profession literacy. Medical literacy look at the knowledge, skills and proficiency in the medical field and health care in particular.

(K) Financial literacy – A type of literacy that looks at accounting, auditing, and any other profession relating to money or financial management issues.

(L) Statistical literacy – A type of literacy that looks at the ability to understand statistics as presented in different forms of publications such as newspapers, television, and the Internet. Numeracy is a prerequisite to being statistically literate. Being statistically literate is sometimes taken to include having both the ability to critically evaluate statistical material and to appreciate the relevance of statistically-based approaches to all aspects of life in general.

(M) Film Literacy – skills and abilities possessed by an individual to practice the art and craft of film making and its processes. Processing the messages packaged in films is also a form of film literacy.

(N) Teaching literacy – A form of literacy that focuses on an individual’s abilities to teach effectively in a particular subject matter. He or she understand the craft of teaching and the necessities that can be applied for an effective teacher.

(O) Workforce literacy – A type of literacy that prepares an individual to know what transpires at a workplace before they start work. It deals with a pre-service employment preparation for an individual intending to be in a particular profession.

(P) Workplace literacy – A type of literacy that supports current workers already in employment with regard to their rights, conditions of service and their plight.

(Q) Survival Literacy – A type of functional literacy that involves teaching survival skills like income generating skills that empowers societies economically to be independent and self-sustaining. Applying other forms of literacy such as reading to survive.

(R) Business Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at business oriented knowledge, skills and proficiency. Failure to sale products an individual has harvested, made or accumulated is an instance of business illiteracy. Business literacy refers to an individual’s ability to posses business oriented skills by means of adapting to trade oriented environments in meeting the market standards.

(S) Street Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at an individual’s ability to survive and adapt to the life of the streets and maintain its standards as their immediate environment for purposes of survival.

(T) Scientific Literacy – A type of literacy that categorically addresses the scientific know how of popular science disciplines.

(U) Agricultural literacy – An individual’s ability to farm, establish and ascertain agricultural related environments and practice the actual competencies in the field. Knowledge of the soil that support good farming and what types of crops to grow, when and where is all part of agriculture literacy.

(V) Computer Literacy – A type of literacy that look at an individual’s knowledge and ability to use computers and technology efficiently. It includes the comfort level someone has in using computer programs and other applications that are associated with computers. Recently, the concept include an individual’s ability to play and manipulate computer components, software, designing computer programs and use computers in a variety of ways in meeting the age of technology efficiently. Computer Literacy – A type of literacy that look at an individual’s knowledge and ability to use computers and technology efficiently. It includes the comfort level someone has in using computer programs and other applications that are associated with computers. Recently, the concept include an individual’s ability to play and manipulate computer components, software, designing computer programs and use computers in a variety of ways in meeting the age of technology efficiently.

(W) Technological literacy – This form of literacy refer to an individual’s ability to use technology tools to access, manage, integrate, evaluate, create and communicate information. It also extends to the knowledge possessed to create or develop technology related products in a broad sense. This includes to that look at technological issues.

(X) Ecological literacy – refer to an individual’s ability to understand the natural systems that makes life on earth possible. This include such things as nature (water, trees, glass, animals and others) that suport human life.

(Y) Translitertacy – Refer to the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks (http://firstmonday.org/article/view/2060/1908).

(Z) Magical Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at magic, witchcraft, and an understanding of the operations of the dark forces, how they threaten people’s lives , how they work, how to use and control them.

(AA) Cultural and Cross Cultural Literacy – A type of literacy that look at an individual’s ability to understand and appreciate the similarities and differences in the customs, values, and beliefs of one’s own culture and the cultures of others. There is no culture that can live, if it attempts to be exclusive in its own. This emphasizes on the importance of cultural literacy in its varying degrees in the global world. Therefore, as citizens of the global world, it is particularly important that all nations be sensitive to the role that culture plays in the behaviors, beliefs, and values of themselves and others. Understanding other cultures has two notable benefits: It multiplies our access to practices, ideas, and people that can make positive contributions to our own society; and secondly, it helps us understand ourselves more deeply. By understanding a range of alternatives, we become aware of our own implicit beliefs – beliefs so deeply imbedded that we routinely take them for granted (Stigler, Gallimore and Hiebert, 2000). “Cultural literacy is applied in a variety of ways. For instance, with regard to text analysis, what a text means depends on what readers bring to the text and what they bring will depend on the background, training, values, traditions, beliefs and norms they have experienced. It also extends beyond text to mean understanding the cultural context and practices an individual is Cultural and Cross Cultural Literacy – A type of literacy that look at an individual’s ability to understand and appreciate the similarities and differences in the customs, values, and beliefs of one’s own culture and the cultures of others. There is no culture that can live, if it attempts to be exclusive in its own. This emphasizes on the importance of cultural literacy in its varying degrees in the global world. Therefore, as citizens of the global world, it is particularly important that all nations be sensitive to the role that culture plays in the behaviors, beliefs, and values of themselves and others. Understanding other cultures has two notable benefits: It multiplies our access to practices, ideas, and people that can make positive contributions to our own society; and secondly, it helps us understand ourselves more deeply. By understanding a range of alternatives, we become aware of our own implicit beliefs – beliefs so deeply imbedded that we routinely take them for granted (Stigler, Gallimore and Hiebert, 2000).
“Cultural literacy is applied in a variety of ways. For instance, with regard to text analysis, what a text means depends on what readers bring to the text and what they bring will depend on the background, training, values, traditions, beliefs and norms they have experienced. It also extends beyond text to mean understanding the cultural context and practices an individual is found in”.
(BB) Family literacy – A type of literacy that looks at family related matters with regard to how to keep a wife, a husband, children and other relatives happily and morally right. It deals with knowledge on how to be in a family, relationships, resolve family conflicts internally, keeping secretes under the roof and home economics.
(CC) Art(s) Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at an individual’s ability to manifest art skills in exceptionally and relatively varying degrees by selecting or shaping materials to convey an idea, emotion, or visually interesting form. Art literacy also refer to the film and visual arts, including painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, decorative arts, crafts, and other visual works that combine materials or forms. In contemporary world, art literacy include forms of creative activity, such as dance, drama (Drama literacy), and music (Musical literacy), or even having the ability to use art to describe art other artistic skills. Art(s) Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at an individual’s ability to manifest art skills in exceptionally and relatively varying degrees by selecting or shaping materials to convey an idea, emotion, or visually interesting form. Art literacy also refer to the film and visual arts, including painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, decorative arts, crafts, and other visual works that combine materials or forms. In contemporary world, art literacy include forms of creative activity, such as dance, drama (Drama literacy), and music (Musical literacy), or even having the ability to use art to describe art other artistic skills.
(DD) Civic Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at the plight of citizens, patriotism, rights, the city, powers of leaders and how the nation is run and being governed. This type of education is offered to the citizens on different issues concerning the affairs of the country and the world. Civic Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at the plight of citizens, patriotism, rights, the city, powers of leaders and how the nation is run and being governed. This type of education is offered to the citizens on different issues concerning the affairs of the country and the world.
(EE) Electoral Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at the knowledge, skills and abilities associated with electoral matters; election strategies, conducting free and fair elections, involving different stake holders in the elections and so on. Electoral Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at the knowledge, skills and abilities associated with electoral matters; election strategies, conducting free and fair elections, involving different stake holders in the elections and so on.
(FF) Adult Literacy – A type of literacy that look at the type of education offered to the adults in order for them to adapt to their respective environments with survivalistic skills. It involves the teaching of income generating skills, civic education and other critical issues within their own environment by making use of the available resources. It involves understanding the way adults behave, how they learn and how to interact with them more effectively. Adult Literacy – A type of literacy that look at the type of education offered to the adults in order for them to adapt to their respective environments with survivalistic skills. It involves the teaching of income generating skills, civic education and other critical issues within their own environment by making use of the available resources. It involves understanding the way adults behave, how they learn and how to interact with them more effectively.
(GG) Information Literacy – A type or type of literacy that look at the ability to recognize the extent and nature of the information needed, to locate, evaluate, and effectively use the needed information in the manner that would befit it. It constitutes the abilities to recognize when information is needed and to locate, evaluate, effectively use, and communicate information in its various formats. A person is said to be information literate if they are able to recognize when the information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. Producing such a citizenry will require that schools and colleges appreciate and integrate the concept of information literacy into their learning programs and that they play a leadership role in equipping individuals and institutions to take advantage of the opportunities inherent within the information society. Information literacy has to do with knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner, implies knowing several skills. We believe that the skills (or competencies) that are required to be information literate require an understanding of a need for information; the resources available; how to find information; the need to evaluate results; how to work with or exploit results; ethics and responsibility of use; how to communicate or share your findings and how to manage your findings, Information and Computer Literacy Task Force (2001).
(HH) Media Literacy – A type of literacy similar to information literacy that look at an individual’s ability to understand information or read information from the different media by filtering or sifting through and analyzing the messages that inform, edutain and sell to us everyday. He further indicate that media literacy is having the ability to bring critical thinking skills to bear on all media; from music videos and web environments to product placement in films and virtual displays on billboards. “Media literacy is about asking pertinent questions about what is there, and noticing what is not there. And the instinct to questions about what lies behind media productions; the motives, the money, the values and the ownership and to be aware of how these factors influence content. Media literacy encourages a probing approach to the world of media: Who is this message intended for? Who wants to reach the audience, and why? From whose perspective is this story told? Whose voices are heard, and whose are absent? What strategies does this message use to get my attention and make me feel included? In our world of multi-tasking, commercialism, globalization and interactivity, media education is not about having the right answers – it is about asking the right questions”, Bowen (1996). The result is lifelong empowerment of the learner and the citizen. Worsnop (1994) says Media literacy has three stages; The first stage is simply becoming aware of the importance of managing one’s media diet that is, making choices and reducing the time spent with television, videos, electronic games, films and various print media forms. The second stage is learning specific skills of critical viewing— learning to analyze and question what is in the frame, how it is constructed and what may have been left out. Skills of critical viewing are best learned through inquiry-based classes or interactive group activities, as well as from creating and producing one’s own media messages. The third stage goes behind the frame to explore deeper issues. Who produces the media we experience—and for what purpose? Who profits? Who loses? And who decides? This stage of social, political and economic analysis looks at how everyone in society makes meaning from our media experiences, and how the mass media drive our global consumer economy. This inquiry can sometimes set the stage for various media advocacy efforts to challenge or redress public policies or corporate practices. Media range from television to T-shirts, from billboards to the Internet. To be media literate today require that people must be able to decode, understand, evaluate and write through, and with, all forms of media. People must be able to read, evaluate and create text, images and sounds, or any combination of these elements. Media literacy seeks to empower citizens and to transform their passive relationship to media into an active, critical engagement, capable of challenging the traditions and structures of a privatized, commercial media culture, and finding new avenues of citizen speech and discourse.
(II) Political Literacy – A type of literacy that refers to the knowledge, skills and information associated with the politics of the location, Mkandaŵile (2011). It is a set of abilities possessed by citizens considered necessary to participate in a particular government. It is a civic education skill that includes the different forces that shape the economy and politics of the country with an understanding of how government works and of the important issues facing society, as well as the critical thinking skills to evaluate different points of view. Many organizations interested in participatory democracy are concerned about political literacy, http://sitwe,wordpress.com.
(JJ) Popular Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at popular knowledge, speculations, values that come from advertising, the entertainment industry, the media, and icons of style and are targeted to the ordinary people in society. Popular literacy values are distinguished from those espoused by more traditional political, educational, or religious institutions as they are typically to do with popular knowledge.
(KK) Diaspora literacy
This is the ability to understand the traditions, beliefs, culture and communication patterns from a scattered population with a common origin in a geographical area. Diaspora folk stories, words, and other folk sayings within any given community of a particular diaspora constitute diaspora literacy. All the knowledge and experience of political, social, historical, and cultural climates of the various cultures of the people in a particular diaspora constitutes diaspora literacy.
(LL) Electoral Literacy (Electracy) – Electracy is a form of literacy that looks at the knowledge, skills and abilities associated with electoral matters; election strategies, conducting free and fair elections, involving different stake holders in the election process.
(MM) Emotional literacy – Emotional literacy refer to one’s ability to manage and understand their emotions as well as that of others. Emotionally literate people listen to others and empathise with their emotions. They express their emotions productively.
(NN) oral literacy – Oral literacy (Oracy) refer to the ability to transfer norms, traditions, customs, culture and language from one generation or person to another through the word of mouth. It is the oldest communication and teaching method in the history of humanity.
(OO) Multiliteracies – The notion and acknowledgement that there are so much literacy that exists in different fields associated with different domains of the society. “Multiliteracies – a word we chose because it describes two important arguments we might have with the emerging cultural, institutional and global order. The first argument engages with the multiplicity of communications channels and media; the second is with the increasing salience of cultural and linguistic diversity”. This quotation suggests that the concept of Multiliteracies acknowledges the existence of many literacies as it supplements traditional perception of literacy, Cope and Kalantzis (2000).
(PP) Visual literacy – A type of literacy that deal with an individual’s ability to interpret, negotiate, and make meaning from information presented in the form of an images, graphic designs and other visuals aspects. Visual literacy is based on the idea that pictures can be “read” and that meaning can be communicated through a process of reading. It is an instance of Visual Memory: retaining a “picture” of what a word or object looks like and how to make sense out of it.

REFERENCES
Barton, D. (2007). Literacy: An introduction to the ecology of the written Language. 2nd Ed. USA. Blackwell Publishing.
Bowman, K. and G. Woolf, (1994). Literacy and Power in the Ancient World. Cambridge.
Cope, B. and Kalantzis, M. (2000). Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Designs of Social futures. London: Routledge.
Graff, H. J. (1991). The literacy myth: cultural integration and social structure in the nineteenth century. Transaction Publishers. p. xxvi. ISBN 978-0-88738-884-2
Olson D. R. and Torrance, N. (2009). The Cambridge handbook of literacy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Corridors of Hope II (2008). Reflect Methodology and Participatory Rural Apraisal (PRA) Tools Guide. Lusaka: Corridors of Hope.
Duffy, M, Fransman, J, and Pearce, E. (2009). Review of 16 Reflect Evaluations.
Dvv International, (2009).Adult Education and Development. International conference on financing adult education for development held on 23-24 June 2009 in Bonn, Germany.
Barton, D. (2007). Literacy; An introduction to the ecology of the written Language.2ndEd.USA.Blackwell publishing.
Steiner, C. & Perry, P. (1997) Achieving Emotional Literacy. London: Bloomsbury.

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Introduction to Literacy

Reference as: Mkandawire, Sitwe Benson (2015) LTC1100 Introduction to Literacy. The University of Zambia Lecture notes for week 1. Retrieved from https://sitwe.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/introduction-to-literacy/

1.2 What is Literacy?
In today’s world, Literacy as an emerging academic field of study is one of the complex terms to define as it has been defined differently by different scholars from various fields. The following is a list of definitions with their reflections.
Definition 1: literacy is being able to identify letters in Latin (Etymology Dictionary, 2000).
This definition is void and redundant. It is null and invalid because literacy is more than mere identification of scant letters in Latin. One would wonder, does it mean that a person is still illiterate when they can identify letters in Tumbuka or English language but they cannot identify a letter in Latin?
Although the first definition is null and invalid, it is important because it provides a foundation for literacy discussions. The fact that it is making reference to the origins of the term literacy (Litera in Latin), it is enough for ground breaking.
The online etymology dictionary notes that the word literacy has its origins from Latin word litterātus (literate) which also came from littera or lītera which means letter to refer to the ‘one who knows the letters’ (literate).
Early writings in the 12th century indicate that the oldest kings of England including King Henry I and those that followed were instructed in Latin through a series of letters from the church superiors particularly pope of the catholic church. These letters stressed the need for the king of England to be literate with his clan’s men. It is believed that the word must have existed long before the 12th century.
The 12th century was a significant time in the expansion of literacy and literate usage. There is evidence that the kings of England from Henry I onward were instructed in Latin. The desire to be litteratus extended to the aristocracy of the court in the reign of Henry II, as learned discussion on matters intellectual in the manner of the clerical school men was evidently quite the done thing at court. http://medievalwriting.50megs.com/literacy/laity3.htm

Definition 2: “Literacy is the ability to read and write” The National Literacy Framework (2013:6)

Critique 2: This definition is very vague and misleading. One would ask, reading and writing what? Arrows for road signage or traffic control? Is it reading and writing pictorial images? Or is it reading and writing Chinese Characters such as 你叫什么名字?In this case, if someone is not able to read and write Chinese for example, does it mean they are illiterate? Therefore, the second definition raises a lot of questions than answers.

It is important to note that the second definition is very significant as it is introducing a discussion on a type of literacy called Conventional Literacy. A detailed discussion on the subject matter is provided in the next unit.

Definition 3: “Literacy is the ability to read and write in a particular Language” Mkandawire (2010:1)
Critique 3: This definition is interesting as it is a practical orientation to Conventional Literacy and a direct response to the second critique, but it is not a true representation of the phenomenon. Literacy is a broad discipline and it cannot be reduced to merely reading and writing or encoding and decoding of skills in a named language. Where do you put for example computer literacy, Profession literacy, media literacy, legal literacy, family literacy and health literacy? We cannot use this definition to describe literacy in general. The definition is only correct for one type of literacy called Conventional Literacy.
It is important to note that this definition has a fundamental difference as it is relating reading to interpretation of written symbols into spoken skills. It is the basis for the origins of worldwide known form of literacy. It is focusing upon specific skills which are considered vital and should be attained by all learners worldwide as the ultimate beneficiaries of conventional literacy.

Definition 4: “Literacy is a set of Technical Skills of Reading, Writing and Numeracy” (Unesco, 2000).
Critique 4: Defining literacy as Technical Skills of Reading, Writing and Numeracy is fascinating and special in that it has added the aspect of applied skills and mathematical competence. It entails that a literate person must have mathematical skills needed to cope with everyday life and at least a basic understanding of information presented mathematically such as tables and charts. It suggests a range of skills discussed in definition 3 with the exceptive emphasis on numeracy and technical skills which were not adequately addressed in the previous definitions.
It is also vital to note that, this is the traditional notion about literacy. It postulates that literacy is the ability to read, write and do numeracy or and do arithmetic. Today, however, it is questionable that the three skills constitute literacy due to the existence of other literacies.
It is important to note that although definition 4 has excluded other forms of literacy, it has included quiet a number of skills such as applied literacy skills and mathematical competence. By extension, the definition clearly suggests that all kinds of activities that occur in a literacy classroom have some practical application and mathematical skills embedded in them.
Definition 5: “literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society”, (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – UNESCO).
Critique 5: This definition is abstract, tedious and intangible. It has just listed terms without explaining them in a valid way that people can easily follow and understand.

Definition 6: Literacy refers to the awareness skills, competence, abilities, access to information and the knowledge possessed in a particular field.
Critique 6: This definition is too slippery, elusive, ethereal and intangible. It is just mentioning terms without putting them into context for discussion by the general populace. It is not focused and generally delusional and not easy to understand.

This definition is psychologically trying to divert the contextual thinking of critiques by highlighting things in general. It is important as it is opening doors to literacy perception in the modern world.

Definition 7: Literacy is the ability to use printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.

Critique 7: The definition is close to functional literacy as it focuses on applied literacy as opposed to aliteracy. It is vital as it is context specific but does not adequately address the scope and depth of literacy as perceived in today’s world.

Definition 8: Literacy is the scientific study of skill acquisition and its processes, appliance and assessment of the state of competent knowledge and information possessed as approved by the community in a specified area.
Critique 8 : This definition is invincible, enticing, hilarious, luxurious and omnipotent for literacy discussions. It is broad enough to probably exhaust different forms of literacies. Studying skill acquisition and its processes on one hand is really something hard to imagine. On the other, assessing the state of competent knowledge and information possessed as approved by the community in a specific area is generally charming. Can these issues really be proven in real situations? If so how?

What is more peculiar in definition eight is the presence of scientific study of skill acquisition and its processes. The definition is suggesting that the art of skill acquisition and its processes can be proven scientifically by a community specialized in it. It is done by assessing the state of competent knowledge and information possessed that defines, let us say that profession. It is also worth to note that this definition is a clear attempt to widen the focus of literacy as perceived in the world today.
It is crucial to observe that definitions mostly provide a guide to word usage and not necessary what the word(s) mean. This is common knowledge especially amongst linguists that words mean nothing on their own but in context. Definitions therefore, help in establishing the contexts to use them, though, not always. Some people do not like definitions because they are not in most cases a true representation of what they define. The same can be said about literacy definitions. They may be meaningful in one context and wrong in another.

This by extension entails that defining terms can be very problematic at times because words may change meanings depending on the context, century and the generation as the case of literacy today. In the 12th to 17th century, literacy had to do with reading and writing only with its related terms: illiteracy, literate and illiterate. Today we talk of multi-literacies; computer literacy, legal literacy, health literacy, cultural literacy, environmental literacy, media just to mention a few.

1.3 Reflections on diversity of Literacy
There are several views of scholars in various fields of what literacy is as used in everyday life. Some of these are as follows;
“A person who can read his or her environment but cannot read a word should not be deemed ignorant and illiterate. To me an illiterate person is he /she who, even with more than enough schooling cannot read his/her environment, identify the wealth it has and protect that wealth, multiply it and enhance his/her own quality of life. Hence, real illiteracy is about failure or incompetence in reading the wealth of one’s environment”, (Tambulukani and Banda, 2010 quoting longest serving permanent Secretary in Ministry of Education).
This quotation is looking at literacy from a broader point of view to include people’s ways of life, environmental management and generally how people survival in their environments.

“You do not need to have books in order to have literature and to have literacy. The term literacy includes survival knowledge or functional literacy. Stories, proverbs, sayings of the wise, riddles, beliefs, poems, fairy tails, myths, taboos, legends were books and not only books but theatre. My family, my home, and nature around my home were my libraries. My literary events took place in our cowshed as we were milking cows” (Vuolab, 2000).
This quotation is also perceiving literacy from a broader point of view as it touches people’s ways of life and their related social and cultural activities.

These reflections are similar to the ones obtained in a similar study recently where some respondents were saying;
“I do not need reading books to find food, raise a family, make friends or survive in my community. Our fathers lived thousands of years before us and all was well: wealthy, known leader and respected. Two of my sons and one daughter are excellent literate people compared to me but they cannot compare what they are doing to what I have. The attention and wealthy I have accumulated. All these have nothing to do with literacy alone but personality and wellbeing”.
These views suggest that it is impossible for a rational being to exclusively fit into any society without the existence of literacy. Literacy and existence to a large extent are inseparable because all forms of nature employ literacy skills to survive: humans, birds, fish, animals and all living nature. Literacy is an end to itself.

1.4 The Concept of Literacy
The concept of literacy has undergone different phases in terms of usage and meaning. From a mere identification of Latin letters to broader ways used by the people to survival, the operations they carry out and the different fields that affect their lives.

The nature of literacy is complex to establish as it touches on every aspect of human endeavor. It is part of our living as all humans make sense of their own lives, they talk about what they do, they explain and justify their actions, their feelings, their intentions and thoughts (Barton, 2007). Literacy is at the center of our everyday life.
Literacy is a basic instrument for change and development in the society. It is a beacon of hope reflecting the life cycle of a single human being in their own world. It raises critical awareness of the citizens so that they become subjects, rather than objects, of the world. This is empirically done by teaching citizens to think democratically and to continually question and critique everything they interact with in their daily lives. With literacy in its full swing, there is no room for tolerating nonsense from any sector of the society. There are no classified subjects or stories that literate people would not talk about.
Literate men and women have created this world by naming it, using words, images, objects and abstract entities. The world is a social construct in the eyes of the literates. The process of constructing it which involves the whole conscious self, feelings, emotions, memory, affects, an epistemologically curious mind, focused on the object, equally involves other thinking subjects capable of knowing and driving curious minds.
Literacy is naturally political and its processes are virtually crucial in making real democracy. There is no democracy if people are blocked or stopped from airing their views against anything and anyone. Ideal democracy is not made or attained by spiritual words or political forces but with people’s reflection and practice. It advocates for people’s practical democracy praising the goodness of all humans but discarding the devil in them. Literacy discard ideas of politicians, parents, business and the community leaders who use the educational system like schools to impose their values and beliefs at the expense of the majority.
The concept of literacy is very complex today as it impinges on every aspect of human life.
1.5 Misconceptions about Literacy
There are currently several misconceptions about literacy. The world, international and national literacy statistics are very misleading, false and unreliable mainly propagated by oppressors for their hidden agendas and ideologies. The criterion used to measure literacy levels is often very rough, biased and selfish. The research coverage of the data used to compile such false figures is often incomplete and non-representative. The majorities are measuring literacy levels in the eyes of donor lenses and developed countries using international languages. Those who are literate in other languages are deemed illiterate, poor and inferior. This is noted by a number of scholars including Arnove and Graff who observe that;
Global figures on literacy levels are noted as both unreliable and hard to interpret. Literacy statistics for Africa “do not include persons who are literate in other languages other than the official languages” which are French, English, Spanish and Portuguese, to be more specific (Arnove and Graff.1992: 285).
This suggests that failure by such mediocre researchers and media institutions to acknowledge the variation of literacy perceptions from country to country is not only a danger to the world but also to researchers themselves. They are typical examples of the illiterate literates.
1.6 The Evolution in the use of Literacy
The word literacy was used in the 12th century and probably the time before that in a series of letters from church to kingdoms in Europe for purposes of communication. Kings and royal families were urged to become literate for easy communication especially when there was confidential information sent through letters delivered by illiterate massagers. Therefore, it was restricted to a small number of elites. Although some ruling class was illiterate, literacy was one of the distinguishing marks, (Bowman and Woolf, 1994).

Graff (1991) notes that in the twelfth century, the ability to recite, in Latin, a particular passage from the Bible entitled a common law defendant to a benefit of clergy. Later a literate person was used as an admission criteria for those who wanted to be trained in clergy works for religious training institutions. During this time, many literacy related terms such as illiterate and literate developed. Some dictionaries in the early days did not even acknowledge or associate the use of literate to early letters from the church to kings. Barton (2007:19) note that;
Tracing the historical changes on how dictionaries deal with such words is generally instructive. With literacy, there are actually four words to consider: literate, illiterate, literacy and illiteracy and these can both be nouns as in ‘an illiterate’ and adjectives as in literate behaviour. Going back to Samuel Johnson’s first dictionary of English in 1755, only one term ‘illiterate’ is found. I have examined 20 dictionaries published in the 19th century and early in the 20th century. Barclay’s dictionary of 1820 also only has illiterate. Illiteracy is found in Walker’s critical pronouncing dictionary of 1839 with the caveat that it is uncommon word. Literate, but only in the sense of educate or learnt appears too.
According to Barton (2007), the word literacy finally appeared in the dictionary of 1924 with an addition of meaning ‘being able to read and write”. This meaning according to Barton gradually grows in importance so that in contemporary dictionaries, such as the COBUID English language dictionary or the concise oxford, it is the first meaning with educated as a subsidiary meaning.

In the late1930s, the word literacy started expanding in usage and meaning. The oxford English dictionary has a quotation from 1943 referring to economic literacy. This suggests that for the quotation to appear in 1943 in a written document, it means it must have started being used years before that year.

REFERENCES
Arnove, R.F. and Graff, H., J. (1992). “National literacy campaigns in historical and comparative perspective: legacies, lessons, and issues.” In: R.F
Barton, D. (2007). Literacy: An introduction to the ecology of the written Language. 2nd Ed. USA. Blackwell Publishing.
Vuolab, K. (2000). Such a Treasure of Knowledge for Human Survival. In: Phillipson, Robert (2000). Rights To Languages .Equity, Power, and Education. London: Lawrence Erilbaum Associates, Publishers.
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=literate
http://medievalwriting.50megs.com/literacy/laity3.htm

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LANGUAGE USAGE IN ACADEMIC WRITING

Reference as: Mkandawire, S. B. (2015). LTC1100 Language Use in Academic Writing. The University of Zambia Lecture notes for week 4. Retrieved from https://sitwe.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/language-usage-in-academic-writing/

4.2 Avoidable Language in Academic writing?
Academic writing follows certain conventions which are universally accepted. One of the rules in academic writing is that certain forms of language or words used when writing should not be accepted. Such words or forms of language are used in informal setting and may be hard to be understood by others. The following are examples of avoidable language in academic writing:
(a) Do not use contractions and abbreviations
Contractions are words written in short version such as can’t for cannot in full form, don’t for do not in full form, it’s there for it is there in full form, and he’ll for he will in full form, doesn’t for does not in full form and shouldn’t for should not in full form. Any form of contraction is not allowed in academic writing. Make sure you always use the full forms of those contractions.

Abbreviations such as etc. must not be used in academic writing. Furthermore, you must use the full forms of words. For instance, rather than using TV, memo, or quote. You must use Television, memorandum or quotation.

(b) Avoid using informal English language
This means that when writing your essay consider the following:
(i) Do not write your essay in point or bullet form, numbering or sub-headings, these are expected in your research or observation reports.
(ii) Do not use colloquial words or slang expressions such as thing, cool, kid, a lot of, stuff and sort of.
(iii) Avoid double words such as what’s up, put off, bring up, get away with but instead, use words equivalent to these phrasal verbs.
(iv) Avoid common but vague words and phrase such as nice, get and thing.
(v) Do not ask questions or use exclamation marks and dashes in academic writing.
(vi) Do not use the language for phone texting or sms.
(vii) Avoid using sexist language such as him/her or herself/himself, chairman, mankind in your writing. For example, do not refer to the country as he or she nor a doctor as he or she. It is better to make them subject plurals and refer to them as they or in the case of the country, state it in neutral way.
Exercise to check your formal language extracted from http://www.uefap.com/writing/exercise/feature/styleex1.htm
1. With women especially, there is a lot of social pressure to conform to a certain physical shape.
2. Significantly, even at this late date, Lautrec was considered a bit conservative by his peers.
3. It focused on a subject that a lot of the bourgeois and upper-class exhibition-going public regarded as anti-social and anti-establishment.

The answers to these questions are:
1. With women especially, there is a great deal of social pressure to conform to a certain physical shape.
2. Significantly, even at this late date, Lautrec was considered somewhat conservative by his peers.
3. It focused on a subject that much of the bourgeois and upper-class exhibition-going public regarded as anti-social and anti-establishment.
(c) Be objective and avoid Personal Language and make your writing formal (be impersonal)
Make your writing formal and impersonal by avoiding the use of personal language such as I, My, Our, me, myself and we. Use third person to show that you are objective. Compare these:
Wrong: In this essay, I am going to discuss the importance of ……
Correct: This essay discusses the importance of ………
Wrong: My research has shown that the people of Zambia are friendly.
Correct: This research has shown that the people of Zambia are friendly.
Wrong: what I can say about this is that …….
Correct: On this subject matter, it could be said that…..

Nobody is interested in your opinion but everybody wants to know what you have ready about a particular topic. Your reader will assume that any idea not referenced in your essay is your own. It is therefore unnecessary to make this explicit use of personal language. You should not say: “In my opinion, this study is very interesting.” You must say that “this is a very interesting study.” Do not use “you” to refer to the reader or people in general. For example, do not write “You can remember life struggles of the Zambian people during colonial era”. You must say or write: “It is easy to remember the life struggles of the Zambian people during colonial era”. This means that you must not utilize emotional language but be objective rather than subjective. Meaning state points in a neutral way by using impersonal subjects. For example, instead of saying;
“I believe that singing at night help reduce fear of the dark”, you should say “It is believed that singing at night help reduce fear of the dark” or you can say “It can be argued that singing at night help reduce fear of the dark”. Note that such points must be supported by evidence from your reading by quoting the authors correctly.
More examples of objective writing in academic essays or starting arguments in writing academic style include the following:
(i) The information provided by Debby (2014:23) clearly shows that …..
(ii) This is a point of departure…….
(iii) This is where the disagreements and controversies begin …
(iv) A common conclusion on this matter is that
(v) This is not a view shared by everyone, Sitwe (2015) for example, claims that …
(vi) It is important at this stage to consider …
(vii) Several possibilities emerge …
(viii) It can be imagined that …
(ix) It may be argued that …
(x) It is widely held that …
Furthermore, to show that the writer is objective, they use the following words: ‘It was resolved that …….’ “it was observed that…….”, “it was noted that …………..”, “it was thought …….”, and “the Act was signed”, all of these suggest some space between the writer and what was observed, noted, thought and signed.
(d) Avoid making sweeping statement or generalizations but be precise and accurate
You must ensure that the phrases and sentences you are making in your essays are based on facts with evidence well stated or supported. Use hedging or dodging language in your academic writing which is more neutral. Hedging language help create some distance between what you are writing and yourself as a writer so that you are cautious and neutral about what you are writing. To avoid over generalizations, you can use words such words as some, a few, others and so forth.

Academic writing also demand precision, you need to be precise when using information, dates or figures. For example, you must not say “many people believe that” or “a lot of people believe that” when you can say “200 people believe that”.

Accuracy on the other hand demand that you must choose the correct words when writing. For example, synonyms such as meeting, assembly, gathering and conference must be well utilised. Equally, words such as money, cash, currency, capital or funds must be accurately utilised.

(e) Structure your writing carefully
When writing, make short, clear and complete sentences. Organize your writing into paragraphs, use connecting words and phrases to make your writing explicitly and easy to follow. You must also check your grammar correctly. As a writer, you are also expected to use language in expressing you points carefully so that you conform academic writing style. For example, avoid expressing strong opinions too directly Academic writing is concerned with presenting your discussion in an objective way, so there is no need to assert your opinions too strongly and openly. For instance,
Do not say: Banda has an extremely important point to make because he…..
You should say: Banda’s view is significant because…… avoiding words such as very, really, quite and extremely.
Remember that when you are writing, your views are merely contributing to the wider knowledge so you should not be too assertive to the extent that whatever you present is correct. Because of this, writers tend to use hedge language. For instance;
Do not say: Banda’s view is very correct because ………
You should say: It appears Banda’s view is ……… or It could be said that Banda’s view….
Part of this information was extracted from http://www.library.dmu.ac.uk/Support/Heat/index.php?page=488
(f) Use evidence from your reading to support your cases and reference this correctly.
Good academic essays are supported by existing literature on a particular subject matter. Every major point cited must be supported by at least one scholar to qualify or support the point raised. This is what we call responsibility.

(g) Use passive verbs than active to avoid stating the doer
This is important and it is usually done with such sentences as “tests have been conducted on ——“. Other recommended verbs to use include imagine, suggest and claim. In addition, attitudinal signals such as apparently, arguably, ideally, strangely and unexpectedly. Note that all these words allows you to hint at your attitude about something without using personal language.
Examples:
Do not say: In my essay I will discuss the role of the citizens in a country. (=active verb)
You could write: In this essay the role of the citizens in a country will be discussed. (=passive verb)
Do not say: I have divided the chapter into three sections.
You could say: The chapter is divided into three sections.
(h) Make use of Hedging language
When writing academic essays, you must make a decisions about your stance on a particular subject, or the strength of the claims you are making. This is done using what linguists call hedging. The following phrases on hedging are taken from
http://www.uefap.com/writing/feature/hedge.htm
The language used in hedging for academic writing includes:
1. Introductory verbs: e.g. seem, tend, look like, appear to be, think, believe, doubt, be sure, indicate, suggest
2. Certain lexical verbs e.g. believe, assume, suggest
3. Certain modal verbs: e.g. will, must, would, may, might, could
4. Adverbs of frequency e.g. often, sometimes, usually
4. Modal adverbs e.g. certainly, definitely, clearly, probably, possibly, perhaps, conceivably,
5. Modal adjectives e.g. certain, definite, clear, probable, possible
6. Modal nouns e.g. assumption, possibility, probability
7. That clauses e.g. It could be the case that .
e.g. It might be suggested that .
e.g. There is every hope that .
8. To-clause + adjective e.g. It may be possible to obtain .
e.g. It is important to develop .
e.g. It is useful to study .
Hedging words and examples and examples are exemplified in the following phrases from the same site. Compare the following statements:
1. It may be said that the commitment to some of the social and economic concepts was less strong than it is now.
The commitment to some of the social and economic concepts was less strong than it is now.
2. The lives they chose may seem overly ascetic and self-denying to most women today.
The lives they chose seem overly ascetic and self-denying to most women today.
3. Weismann suggested that animals become old because, if they did not, there could be no successive replacement of individuals and hence no evolution.
Weismann proved that animals become old because, if they did not, there could be no successive replacement of individuals and hence no evolution.
4. Yet often it cannot have been the case that a recalcitrant trustee remained in possession of the property entrusted to him.
Yet a recalcitrant trustee did not remain in possession of the property entrusted to him.
5. Recent work on the religious demography of Northern Ireland indicates a separating out of protestant and catholic, with the catholic population drifting westwards and vice versa.
Recent work on the religious demography of Northern Ireland shows a separating out of protestant and catholic, with the catholic population drifting westwards and vice versa.
6. By analogy, it may be possible to walk from one point in hilly country to another by a path which is always level or uphill, and yet a straight line between the points would cross a valley.
By analogy, one can walk from one point in hilly country to another by a path which is always level or uphill, and yet a straight line between the points would cross a valley.
7. There are certainly cases where this would seem to have been the only possible method of transmission.
There are cases where this would have been the only possible method of transmission.
8. Nowadays the urinary symptoms seem to be of a lesser order.
Nowadays the urinary symptoms are of a lesser order.
The choice of these phrases and sentences depends on the level of surety in the claims.
4.3 Use of Grammatical words and Tenses
When writing academic essays, do not waste time by using words anyhow. Make sure that every word count. For example:
Avoid saying: A famous theorist scholar called Albert Bandura wrote a beautiful piece of work on social learning which offers valuable insights into this discussion…
You should say: Bandura (2003) offers valuable insights into …

This demand that every word you use must be of significance in that sentence and it is informative enough.

Words must also be used clearly and concisely so that the meaning that they carry in those context are simple and straight forward. This demand that huge words must be avoided by all means necessary. For instance;
Do not say: A corpulent lackadaisical unicorn.
You should say: A fat lazy admired girl.
Do not say: The denotation was obfuscated by the orator.
You should say: The meaning was hidden by the speaker.
As a writer, you must aim for the right word for the right occasion expressed in a manner that it would be easy to understand by your readers.
Furthermore, if you are reporting on past tense or present tense, you must be consistent with the tense you are using to inform your audience readers. For example;
(a) The Past Tense
If you are writing on something that happened in the past, you have to maintain the past tense so that you do not mix up ideas. For instance,
(i) The Second World War had devastating impact upon the society in the countries affected.
(ii) The group discussions were conducted with nine groups of parents in Muchinga Province.
(iii) By 9 hours AM on Monday, everyone had already reported for work.
(b) The Present Tense
If you are writing on something that is still happening now, you have to maintain the present tense unless you want to compare it with something in the past or future. For instance,
(i) Banda’s book emphasises that fighting for boys or girls is wasting time.
(ii) The deviance theory support the view that ……
(iii) His argument illustrates that…..
Remember that when talking about events that happened in the past, avoid phrases such as: ‘in the past’ or ‘in recent times’ this and this happened but focus on specific issues at hand so your writing does not become redundant.
You must also avoid generalizing phrases and certain grammatical aspects when used, you must ensure that your reader knows what you are referring to when you use words such as: it, them, and they. Words such as people and ideas have the potential to be vague. So, avoid saying: ‘according to many people’. Ensure that you explain which people or which ideas.
4.4 Conclusion
The most important things in academic writing is to keep your writing clear and concise and make sure that you get your ideas over in a comprehensible form. Do not use informal language but your sentences must be complete with ideas arranged in paragraphs and sections.

REFERENCES
Adler, N. (1997) International Dimensions of Organizational Behaviour. 3rd ed.Ohio: South-Western College Publishing.
Heaton, J. B. (1975) Studying in English. London: Longman
Hefferman, James & John Lincoln (1986) Writing. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
Sir Ernest Gowers says in his The Complete Plain Words.
Quick, Radolph & Sidney Greenbaum (1973) A University Grammar of English Essex: Longman
Sheal, P. (1981). Writing Skills Essex: Longman
Byrd, P. (1994). Writing grammar textbooks: Theory and practice. System, 22 (2), 245-255.
http://www.library.dmu.ac.uk/Support/Heat/index.php?page=488

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