Science Teachers’ Practices in Relation to their Perceptions of Translanguaging: The case of Eswatini
This study explored science teachers’ perspectives of the use of translanguaging and their practice in a science classroom. This was prompted by the National Education and Training Sector Policy of Swaziland which stipulates the official language of instruction from Grade 4 as English. This is regardless of the evidence that learners who use second language as a medium of instruction often struggle because they are not able to fully understand instruction in such a language. This study was undertaken, in an attempt to explore chemistry teachers’ perceptions on translanguaging and how their perceptions relate to practice? Bakhtini’s theory was used as the theoretical framework. An interpretive paradigm was used because the researchers wanted to understand both the perspectives and practices of the science teachers. Purposive convenient sampling method was used to select three chemistry teachers from different schools. Data was collected at high school level (Form 4) through a questionnaire, classroom observations and interviews. The findings show that all the teachers have limited understanding of translanguaging. However they believe thatmixing languages, which they confuse with translanguaging enhances learners’ understanding of science. It is concluded that teachers need support to harmonise their perceptions with the effective use of translanguaging strategies in teaching and this has to be aligned with the existing country’ educational policy which currently says that the first language may be used as the only medium of instruction from Grade 1 to Grade 4. However, the policy may be reviewed and include Siswati as medium of instruction even in higher levels.
Keywords: Teachers’ perceptions, teachers’ practices, bilingualism, translanguaging, science education