Advancing literacy through language - Solomon Star News

Advancing literacy through language

26 February 2020
Dr. Brian Jones, British High Commissioner to SI and READSI Director Joyce Boykin showing the new teachers' handbooks.

The READ program for 2020 received support from the British High Commission Brian Jones when he helped to fund some of the new teachers' handbooks for selected Honiara schools.  

The teachers from these schools will receive training on how to teach English as a spoken language, a statement from READ said.  

“This is crucial! Children need to learn to read in a language that they can speak and understand, then they will be able to be better readers and writers.

“In our country with so many languages, English is simply an additional one, but it is the language of instruction and textbooks from grades 1 - 12 are written in English,” the statement said.  

READ has developed a program so that children learn to speak English and spend time practicing just to listen and speak in that language.  

Last year was a pilot program in Honiara and children were involved in speaking 15 minutes daily.  

This year it will be 30 minutes daily in grades 1 through 6.

The results of 2019 showed that the teachers and students both benefitted and that better writing was done by the students at all grade levels.

Dr. Brian Jones, British High Commissioner:  "The English language is a gateway for young Solomon Islanders to advance successfully in their education and take opportunities open to them in scholarship, business, and entrepreneurial activities.  

“My mother was an English teacher and I have great respect for the hard work they do. The READ program helps to give teachers the tools they need to provide the best in the classroom."

Joyce Boykin, Director of READ SI: "This year READ and MEHRD are working closely together to determine the effectiveness of the oral English program with the possibility of rolling it out across the nation if the results show an increase in reading comprehension and writing abilities.  

Speaking English is essential if children are to have an understanding of what they read.  

Most children only have the opportunity to speak English in school, so teachers need to truly be more fluent in English. 

Language must come before literacy. The READ program will assist teachers in improving their oral English skills so that they can be better English speakers, too.  

Pijin is our most used language in the Solomon Islands and English is the most used language in the world.  Both India and China teach English as a second language to their school children, as do many other countries around the world. It is very important that we speak English and then understanding what we read will be much easier."

In effect, speaking English fluently is crucial for academic achievement and communication at all levels.