Teacher Preparedness to Utilize Emergent Literacy for Teaching Initial Literacy in Selected Schools of Mansa District

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Samuel Imangea*and John Simwinga,b Ph.D.

a Mansa College of Education, P.O. Box 710391, Mansa, Zambia

    b Department of Literature and Languages, UNZA, P. O. Box 32379, Lusaka,


*Corresponding author: Email address: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether or not primary school teachers in Mansa District utilized emergent literacy skills in their teaching of conventional reading and writing skills to learners in Grade 1 considering the fact that emergent literacy lays a firm and solid foundation for continuous development of literacy skills. The study employed a descriptive qualitative research design since it required the researcher to describe the phenomenon under investigation as obtaining and as observed in the natural setting in the research sites. The sample comprised 62 Grade 1 teachers and 3,594 Grade 1 primary school pupils. Only schools teaching initial literacy in the local familiar language using the Breakthrough to Literacy (BTL) methodology were targeted for this research.

The findings indicated that teachers lacked knowledge about emergent literacy and did not know how useful it was for continuous literacy development among the children; most of the teachers ignored pupils’ prior literacy knowledge and considered their learners as complete illiterates who knew nothing about literacy skills; teachers never designed extra teaching and learning materials for teaching literacy; and, the class sizes were large resulting in lack of meaningful scaffolding.

This study concluded that emergent literacy skills were not utilized by Grade One primary school teachers, thereby delaying the acquisition of higher level skills by learners. The study recommends that the Ministry of Education in Zambia should equip teachers with knowledge of emergent literacy through deliberate training.