Kiswahili is widely used in East Africa and serves as the main form of communication in Tanzania. It is also the language of instruction in primary government schools, with English serving as a supplemental language course for primary level students. Yet by secondary school, Tanzania’s language of instruction abruptly switches to English. Students, in turn, enter secondary school with low-levels of English knowledge and are then expected to learn fundamental subjects, such as mathematics, science, and social science, in their non-native language. Without receiving the proper guidance necessary to help ease this linguistic transition, students are oftentimes forced to drop out of school, either before entering secondary school or once enrolled in secondary school, due to difficulties in learning.
In order to help address this issue, this summer, CDI and KITE piloted an English Club for a group of 40 standard five and six students at a local primary school in the Ubungo District of Dar Es Salaam. Using music, games, and activities, volunteers taught students thematically-focused English vocabulary in a fun and interactive manner, with the intention of making English more appealing to the primary school children while also providing students with the vocabulary needed for succeeding in secondary school.
Due to our successful pilot, next summer, we plan to design and implement a full English Club program at this primary school, with each session focusing on different academic themes (i.e., geography, chemistry, geometry) to provide students with the vocabulary relevant for their secondary school coursework. We hope that our initiative can make a positive impact on local students, with future potential for scaling up across additional schools and sparking a broader movement in setting Tanzanian students up for longer term academic success.