1. Showing that you value home languages

Pupils who speak a language at home that is different from the language of the classroom need to know that you value their home language. This is important because a home language is part of who a person is. One way of demonstrating this is to encourage your pupils to tell stories and riddles, recite poems, sing songs and explain games in their home languages and then to write these down, either in their home languages or in another language.

In Activity 1, you help pupils explore the similarities and differences between oral and written texts. You will encourage them to think about what is valuable about the oral tradition, why people write things down and which languages are used in speech and writing.

Case Study 1: Telling stories in home languages; writing them in a lingua franca

Mr Okitikpi, a Yoruba-speaking teacher, has recently been transferred to a community in Northern Nigeria that has Hausa as a common language, but a number of pupils speak three Nigerian languages. A few parents and young adults have agreed to act as teaching ‘aides’. They know Hausa and some English and are helping Mr Okitikpi to learn Hausa so he can communicate with his pupils better. As some of his pupils can speak three Nigerian languages, Mr Okitikpi has involved these aides in storytelling activities to build pupils’ confidence in speaking and to show that their home languages are valued.

He wants pupils to write some stories down, ideally in their home languages. However, a number of the languages do not have a written form, so he decides they should write the stories in Hausa.

One of his aides discusses with pupils why people write stories down. Next, they write down their favourite story, in Hausa, so that they can put it into a book for the class library. Mr Okitikpi puts the pupils into groups for this writing activity, making sure that at least one group member is fairly fluent in Hausa and can support the others. He also asks his aide to help him monitor the writing process.

Activity 1: Writing down oral literature and games

First, read Resource 1: How stories are made into books, and think about the answers to the five questions for pupils.

Ask pupils for the titles of home language stories, poems, songs and games they know. Write these on the chalkboard.

Discuss these questions with pupils:

  • are these home language texts written in books?
  • why do people write down stories, poems, songs and games in books?
  • would you like your home language stories, poems, songs and games to be written in books? Why, or why not?
  • in which language or languages would you write poems, stories and games for a book? Why?
  • how do books get written and produced? Tell pupils they will be making books for a class library.

Ask pupils to each choose a favourite story and to write the first draft in the language of their choice.

Were you pleased with the discussion?

How did pupils respond to this activity?

Section 5: Turning oral stories, poems and games into books

2. Turning stories into books