Girl jumping on letters

Kano Literacy and Maths Accelerator (KaLMA) is the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)-funded project, implemented (from October 2019 to December 2020) by the British Council in partnership with Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) Africa. The project aims to build foundational Maths, Hausa and English literacy skills for 46,450 primary 4 to primary 6 pupils in two full local government areas, Dawakin Tofa and Wudil in Kano State, Nigeria. A second aim is to test the scalability of two models (one model includes English and another pre-service teacher training). In both models, pupils are assessed on foundational skills and grouped by learning level rather than age or grade level for two hours per day, with a focus on acquiring a foundation in reading and arithmetic. 

Through KaLMA, the British Council is piloting a dual language approach to foundational skills in English using Hausa as a bridge to learning English. It means using the children’s own language to assist their learning of an additional one. Examples include using the L1 (Hausa) for initial engagement in a task that later transitions to English (L2) or using bilingual flashcards and storybooks. It plays out in the classroom as follows: Picture reading – children first say in Hausa what they see in a picture, for example, a market scene, through a vocabulary-focused activity using the words for basic fruits and vegetables, which activity is then extended into English. Another activity is a word-building game where children are given a set of letter cards to form words in Hausa. They then play the game in English. The dual-language approach is consolidated by listening and doing – children are given an oral instruction that they have to respond to by performing a related action (e.g. ‘stand up’). The activity is first done in Hausa, then in English. 

The dual-language approach builds on important research findings referenced in the British Council publication, English language and medium of instruction in basic education in low-and-middle-income countries which shows that if young students in low-or middle-income countries are first taught in their own or a familiar language, rather than English, they are more likely to understand what they are learning and be more successful academically (including in English as a subject) with benefits to education, the economy and society.