Study: Language of Instruction Transition in Education Systems (LITES)
Period of Implementation
October 2021 – July 2023
USAID Center for Education
- ResilientAfrica Network (RAN), Regional hub partner in East Africa
- University of Nairobi, Kenya
- Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique
- Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), Philippines
- Associates in Research and Education for Development (ARED), Senegal
Kenya, Mozambique, the Philippines, Senegal
Large numbers of learners in low- middle-income countries are failing to acquire foundational skills largely due to a mismatch between the languages spoken at home and at school (World Bank, 2021). There is significant evidence that learning in a child’s first language (L1) promotes consistent learning gains across a variety of programs and contexts (Evans & Acosta, 2020; Nag, et al., 2019). However, much less is understood about how education systems should effectively add or transition instruction from a first language to a second language (L2) and sometimes additional languages. This cross-country LITES study seeks to fill this knowledge gap by generating empirical evidence regarding factors that contribute to the success of language of instruction transitions for learners’ second language literacy skills. Evidence generated from this study will provide useful insights to bilingual and multilingual education in low-resource settings.
How do different LITES policy approaches, system factors, and local-level conditions and practices explain variations in key language and reading outcomes in target languages in primary grades?
Methods and Analysis
The LITES study integrates both qualitative and quantitative analysis in two parts: Phase 1 involves literature review, data mapping, and ecosystem workshops. Phase 2 includes literacy assessments (collected at one time for two different grades) and student and teacher surveys. Local research partners will also interview parents, teachers, and system leaders. The analysis will focus on two levels: 1) how system-level policy and implementation creates school and classroom conditions and 2) how these conditions relate to student language and literacy outcomes in students’ first and second languages.
LITES aims to provide evidence-informed guidance on the language of instruction transition policy design and practice in linguistically diverse countries. These results will be shared through both academic and policy platforms. Ultimately, the University of Notre Dame expects that this will increase bilingualism and biliteracy for students in low- middle-income countries and allow them to develop foundational skills that empower them to meaningfully contribute as well-informed citizens.
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