Language Teaching and Literacy Learning in Tanzania Primary Education: A Critical Review

Philipo John


This paper argues that there are key issues associated with language teaching and literacy learning in Tanzania primary education which have yet to be adequately addressed in the curriculum. Using theoretical and empirical evidence drawn from studies in  Tanzania and beyond on language and literacy learning in primary education, the discussion reveals that the key issues hampering effective literacy teaching and learning in Tanzania’s primary education include the question of teachers’ pedagogical competence on literacy teaching; choice of language for literacy teaching and learning, especially in rural areas, for example ethnic community language versus Kiswahili; language teacher  education; and home-school disconnection. The discussion also shows that Tanzania’s primary education curriculum does not accommodate multi-literacy competencies such as the emerging digital and media literacies. Thus, the paper recommends the use and teaching of languages that a school-beginning child speaks and understands well in early childhood education, and the inclusion of multi-literacy competencies.

Key words: Language, mother tongue, literacy, teaching and learning, primary education

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