The Oxford First Bilingual Dictionary offer pupils the opportunity to read, write and understand grammar and comprehension. Picture: Supplied.
The Oxford First Bilingual Dictionary offer pupils the opportunity to read, write and understand grammar and comprehension. Picture: Supplied.

Oxford’s multilingual dictionary to encourage bilingualism in schools

By Murphy Nganga Time of article published Jul 13, 2021

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Cape Town - In order to assist children in developing their language skills in their native language, Oxford University Press South Africa has released the second edition of the Oxford First Bilingual Dictionary to address the challenges pupils face ahead due to a lack of understanding sufficient vocabulary and grammar in their home language.

While most students are obliged to acquire a First Additional Language in the Foundation Phase, our multilingual culture also includes pupils who struggle to adjust to English as the language of learning and teaching.

Grade 1 teacher Nosiphiwo Ntlemeza said that in most of the schools, lack of resources to teach in the native language has been the primary issue.

“I've noticed that Xhosa pupils across the schools I've taught are very similar in the sense that they are so ashamed to use or speak in their home language and this drives them away from learning and understanding more about their culture and mostly not embracing their language.”

“The main issue around this is that schools do not have enough Xhosa resources like books and posters that would put more emphasis on language. For example, why can't non-Xhosa teachers be taught basic Xhosa language or vocabulary that they can use in class or instal in class. Currently at my school, I am required to teach Afrikaans and I know little Afrikaans but thankfully, I am able to teach the basics required, but nevertheless I think this dictionary will benefit our kids and non-Xhosa speakers as a whole to learn the language and it's dialects,” said Ntlemeza.

Oxford University Press South Africa managing editor Linda Roos said that the curriculum specifies that vocabulary should come from the environment familiar to the child.

“To ensure that children acquire, apply knowledge and skills in ways that are meaningful to their own lives, the curriculum stipulates that the child's vocabulary should originate from his or her everyday surroundings in order to assist with vocabulary building and deepen their comprehension so that the child can become actively and critically literate and not merely learn to parrot sounds by rote.”

“Research has shown that a bilingual dictionary is best for promoting comprehension of the vocabulary. This means that the dictionary will help increase the child's ability to read and write as the child’s vocabulary, comprehension and grasp of grammar increases.”

“The dictionary will also offer lots of opportunities for asking questions, telling and listening to stories, playing language games, acting out scenarios and practising conversations,” said Roos.

The Oxford First Bilingual Dictionary is now available in English Zulu/Xhosa/Afrikaans/Sesotho sa Leboa/Setswana/Sesotho. The themed double-page spreads in the dictionaries supply the basic high-frequency vocabulary that children need to start talking, while the rich, full-colour illustrations offer further opportunities for vocabulary development, storytelling and language games.

Weekend Argus

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