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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring cultural resources as pedagogical tools for language education : a case of two primary schools in Uganda Abiria, Doris Maandebo


In 2007 Uganda launched a new curriculum called the thematic curriculum that emphasizes the use of home languages as the medium of instruction in lower primary classes and the use cultural resources such as local stories and songs as pedagogical tools to improve literacy instruction. The purpose of this study was to examine how Lugbara cultural resources like stories, songs, and riddles ‘travel’ from community sites into classrooms and how teachers used them to enhance language teaching and learning. The study was informed by the New Literacy Studies (Barton & Hamilton, 1998; Street, 1984), which focus on literacy as a situated social practice. This was a qualitative case study that used lesson observations, interviews, focus group discussions and document analysis as the main data sources. For data analysis the study loosely drew on Hymes’ (1974) SPEAKING Model which views discourse as a series of speech events within a cultural context by describing the Setting, the Participants, the End, the Act sequence, the key, the Instrumentalities, the Norms and the Genre of the speech event. Findings from the study revealed that cultural resources ‘travel’ from the community settings where they are traditionally performed to new sites in the classrooms as hybrid forms ranging from strong (retaining a large number of key elements from their place of origin) to weak (with limited elements from their place origin). Strong cultural resources have great potential to transform classroom practices and enhance language teaching and learning, whereas weak cultural resources are stripped of their transformative potential. Thus, cultural resources do not have an intrinsic resourcefulness as pedagogical tools. Their resourcefulness depends on the extent to which they retain their key traditional elements in the course of travelling from the community sites into the new settings. Teachers thus need further training to understand how the cultural resources function as both community and classroom resources to make their best use as pedagogical tools. The study informs the language policy and the new thematic curriculum in Uganda. It brings a much needed non-Western perspective to New Literacy Studies theory by building on literacy as a socio-cultural practice.

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