From Oracy to Literacy in the Classroom: Implications for Mother Tongue-based Bilingual Education in Cameroon

Blasius Agha-ah Chiatoh


Observation of early childhood education in Cameroon reveals that children on their first day at school have not acquired sufficient oral competence in their L1. They go to school at the age of two when the language acquisition phase is still in its initial stages. The result is systematic separation of the child from the family. Among educated and working families, this separation becomes almost total and communication significantly reduces between parents and their children who are either under the care of the school mistress or that of the caretaker. This has a serious effect on the development of oral communication competencies as an essential phase in language acquisition and learning. In this paper, I examine oral competence in the classroom as an important phase in the successful development of children’s reading and writing skills. Based on the Cameroonian situation, I argue that efficient mother tongue-based bilingual education must consider oracy as a primary link in overall literacy achievement in the classroom. Oracy is presented to have significant cultural, cognitive and pedagogic implications. Accordingly, programmes for the training of trainers should systematically integrate oral mother tongue teaching at all levels for better and improved levels of sustained literacy skills.

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