4.2 Ensuring understanding in general
However carefully they choose their language, sometimes, teachers (and adults in general) use words that are not part of children’s vocabulary, which makes it difficult for pupils to understand instructions.
Thus, while preparing class lessons, it is important to think carefully about how to formulate and give class instructions.
Case study 6: Ms Touré’s instructions
In Segou (Mali), Ms Touré realised that several children in her second-year class always seem to start the work well after the rest of the class even though she gives them the instructions again and individually. She believes that this limits the length of time available to perform the required tasks and that this affects their results.
She asks a colleague to come and observe and to pay particularly attention to the way she gives instructions. After the observation, during the feedback, they agree that the instructions were given in a confusing and hasty way. Therefore, they decide to adopt a new course of action: when she prepares her lessons, Ms Touré will use the prompt card they devise together on how to give instructions. She will also use this card as a reminder in the classroom.
Ms Touré believes that although it will be time consuming, writing the instructions when she does her lesson preparation will allow her to be more precise and clearer in the classroom. She thinks that asking children to repeat the instructions is a useful technique: they will use their own words to explain things and thus will facilitate the understanding of instructions for all pupils. This will allow her, Ms Touré, to check for their understanding.