Introductory Materials

Tips for instructors

This module uses the general topic of religion in East Africa to give students opportunites to practice the skills needed to acheive Advanced Low proficiency on the ACTLF scale. In this section, you’ll find suggestions on how to use this module with your students. The module is organized into Units, lessons, exercises and Primary Source Texts. It begins with a unit on conversations, then asks students to extend what they learn about conversations to a slightly different mode, through a unit on interviewing, and finally moves on to a unit on reading. Students will be exposed to information on Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam, with a slightly greater focus on Islam. Each unit has at least two lessons with exercises. Some lessons and exercises are designed to be done for homework, some for self-assessment, some as preparation for in-class activities, and others to be submitted to you for assessment. If you use everything in this module, it will take about twenty-nine to thirty class days to get through, and about sixty hours of accompanying homework time.

Throughout the module, you will find links back to the relevant parts of this page that give you suggestions on how to use assignments that will require your assessment or on how to use them in class.

Each header below corresponds to a lesson of the module; clicking on it will take you to that lesson.

Throughout the module, I recommend that you read each lesson and exercise carefully before assigning any of them to students (which will sometimes require clicking through and/or completing an activity yourself), so that you can make a plan about how to use each one in class, assign any preparatory work your students may need in order to complete it successfully, note any errors you find so that you can explain them to students, and notice any areas with which your students are likely to have difficulty.


Proficiency objectives

Proficiency objectives tell you and your students what they should be able to do with Swahili by the end of the module. Specific proficiency objectives, alongside content objectives, are also included at the start of each activity in the module. You might take some time to assess your students at the start of the module, to determine which proficiency objectives they most need to work on and assign particular activities that will help them achieve those objectives. At the end of the module, you might ask students to submit a portfolio of evidence that documents their achievement of the can-do statements.


Msamiati wa Dini

This page contains religious vocabulary that I expect students to already know and be able to use before they begin the activities in this chapter. They will also encounter and acquire some additional vocabulary while doing the activities and exercises that follow. After assigning students to study this vocabulary, you could review it in class through various activities, such as handing out cards with each vocabulary item to each student and have them either use the word in a sentence, define it using circumlocution, or act it out. You could award “points” and make it a competition among individuals or teams. You could give students a graded quiz either in class or using an online quiz in your course website. Feel free to add additional vocabulary you think is important, and/or to leave a comment on the page if you’d like me to add anything.

Encourage students to keep a personalized vocabulary notebook where they keep track of all new words they encounter, whether in this module, in class, or through research.


Unit 1: Conversations

The first unit will take about seven class days to get through if you assign everything.

Warming up to conversations about religion

If you assign everything on this page, it will take about five class days to get through.

You might begin this lesson by sharing what you know about Hindus and people of Indian ancestry in East Africa. Be careful to share your own experiences, not to make blanket generalizations about anyone. It is important that students understand the tensions between people of various ancestries in East Africa, but not to perpetuate stereotypes.

Pre-reading exercise

In class, ask students to share the vocabulary they reviewed while researching the basic tenets of a religion. You can write these on the board while they share their ideas, or assign one or more students to do so. Ask students to explain the meanings of new words using circumlocution and/or examples.

Post-reading exercises

Exercise 1

Exercise 1 is a series of questions about the text that students can use to check their own understanding. It can be assigned for homework and you might just ask students in class afterwards if they have any questions about it. If you want to grade it, you could ask students to take a screen shot of their final score and print it out or email it to you.

Exercise 2

Exercise 2 includes three questions for students to think about and that you might discuss in class in small groups or as a whole class.

Talking about religion

If you assign everything in this lesson, it will take about two class days to get through.

Exercise 1

In preparation for Exercise 1, assign students the following homework:

  • Exercise 1 asks you to talk about your religious beliefs and practices with your classmates. Think about the questions you will discuss, how you will ask them in Swahili, and how you might respond. Look up, learn, and/or review any relevant vocabulary you will need in order to describe your religious beliefs and ask about those of others. Bring a list of new vocabulary to class.

You might also remind them about what they learned from their reading and discussion of the transcript of Braj and Irene’s conversation in the previous activity (if you assigned it).

Prior to doing Exercise 1, start with a brainstorming activity where students share questions they might ask one another and/or the vocabulary they reviewed. You can write these on the board while they share their ideas, or assign one or more students to do so. Ask students to explain the meanings of new words using circumlocution and/or examples.

After doing Exercise 1, ask students to share what they learned about their conversations partners. If you have an odd number of students and need one group of three, ask the third person to report on what he or she heard as she listened to the conversation of the other two.

Exercise 2

In preparation for Exercise 2, ask each student to select a religion other than his or her own to research for homework. If you want to ensure variety, and depending on the number of students in your class, you might provide a list from which they can choose, and/or include denominations of the major religions (e.g. Protestantism, Pentecostalism, or Catholicism rather than simply Christianity; Sunni and Shia rather than simply Islam).

In class, prior to doing Exercise 2, start with a brainstorming activity where students share the vocabulary they reviewed. You can write these on the board while they share their ideas, or assign one or more students to do so. Ask students to explain the meanings of new words using circumlocution and/or examples.


Unit 2: Interviewing

The second unit, Interviewing, builds on what students learned in Unit 1, Conversations, asking students to think about the similarities and differences between ordinary conversations and interviews, and then to practice interviewing and using what they learn through interviews to practice writing. If you assign everything in this unit, it will take about eight class days to get through.

Warming up to interviewing about religion: Warm up

If you assign everything in this lesson, it will take about three class days to get through.

Pre-reading Exercises

For homework, assign students to do the pre-reading exercises, and tell them whether they should submit their responses to you via email or print it out to turn in during class. Note that they must do both Exercise 1 and 2 in order to export their answers. There are no right or wrong answers to the questions, though you might grade them based on grammatical accuracy or use of relevant vocabulary. They are primarily to get students thinking before class so that you can discuss the same questions during an in-class oral discussion.

Alternatively, you could skip having students do the pre-reading exercises in writing, and instead simply discuss the questions in class, though students will likely perform better if they have had a chance to think and write about the questions in advance.

Pre-reading Exercise 1, Question 3

In class, ask students to compare and discuss their responses to Pre-reading Exercises 1 and 2. You could do this in pairs and then have them report back to the whole class, or simply have the whole class discuss. On one side of the board, take note of any new vocabulary that arises so students can add it to their study lists.

Post-reading Exercises

Post-reading Exercise 1

This is a self-check exercise that gets students to notice supportive minimal vocalizations. In class the next day, you might ask students to discuss it in class afterwards, and to practice making these vocalizations during their in-class conversations.

Post-reading Exercise 2

For homework, assign students to do the post-reading exercises, and tell them whether they should submit their responses to you via email or print it out to turn in during class. There are no right or wrong answers to the questions, though you might grade them based on grammatical accuracy or use of relevant vocabulary. They are primarily to get students thinking before class so that you can discuss the same questions during an in-class oral discussion.

Post-reading Exercise 3

This is a self-check exercise focused on comprehension. You might ask students to bring their questions about Primary Source 1 to class so you can discuss any grammar or vocabulary they had difficulty comprehending.

Post-reading Exercise 4

For homework, assign students to do the post-reading exercise, and tell them whether they should submit their responses to you via email or print it out to turn in during class. There are no right or wrong answers to the questions, though you might grade them based on grammatical accuracy or use of relevant vocabulary. They are primarily to get students thinking before class so that you can discuss the same questions during an in-class oral discussion.

Conducting an interview

If you assign everything in this lesson, it will take about five class days to get through.

Exercise 1

Before beginning this exercise, you might share some Swahili magazines with your students—either physical copies if you have them, or links to online magazines.

Step 1

Students could do the first component of this exercise (writing a list of topics) for homework or in class, and you might ask them to share the topics they came up with in pairs or as a whole class brainstorming activity. Students should be encouraged to list topics rather than actual questions, so that when they conduct interviews they have to spontaneously generate questions rather than simply reading them off the page.

Step 2

Students can do their audio-recordings for homework or during class. Or they could practice during class (with different partners) and then do the actual recording for homework. But discourage them from rehearsing so much that the interview becomes unnatural. Let students know how to submit their audio-recordings—e.g. should they email them to you? upload them to your course management system? share them in a course Facebook group or on their own blogs?

Step 3

Let students know how to submit their homework—to you? shared with one another somewhere? You might consider combining all their “articles” into your own online course magazine and sharing it with the public. Decide how you will grade their articles and whether they will have the opportunity to revise. You could also incorporate peer revision, giving them a chance to share their articles with a classmate who will offer corrections and suggestions, after which each student will turn in a final version to you for grading.

Step 4

In class, students can share what they wrote about interviewing and use this as a basis for discussion.

Exercise 2

Assign each student a character (make sure you flesh them out well) or spend some time in class having them come up with characters together and/or for one another. They could be famous East Africans or simply imaginary people. For homework, they will conduct the research necessary to pretend to be their assigned or chosen characters.


Unit 3: Reading

Unit 3 focus on reading skills, using examples from both the Qur’an and an interview transcript. The interview is with a former Muslim, now Christian, about invisible beings, exposing students to several different East African religions and the overlap among them. If you assign everything in this unit, it will take about twelve class days to get through.

The Qur’an

If you assign everything in this lesson, it will take about seven class days to get through.

Assign students to read the cultural notes on “Al Fatiha.” You could play some online audio versions in class. If you are Muslim, you might share with students your own experience of reciting Al Fatiha or of performing ritual prayers, and/or your interpretation of the verse.

Exercise 1

This is an ungraded exercise that can be done for homework.

Exercises 2 & 3

Exercise 2 offers new vocabulary, while Exercise 3 is a self-assessment of it. In between the two, you could go over new vocabulary in class, have students practice circumlocution to explain the words to one another. After students have completed Exercise 3, you might give them a graded quiz on the new vocabulary, either in class or online.

Exercise 4 (Grammar)

There are grammar explanations and short self-check exercises for three grammatical points that are evident in the Swahili translation of “Al Fatiha.” Assign the ones you think your students need to review, and spend time on them in class as needed.

Exercise 5

Exercise 5 includes discussion questions for students to write about in preparation for an in class discussion in small groups or as a whole class. There are no right or wrong answers. If you decide to grade them, you might do so based on grammatical accuracy and/or appropriate use of (new) vocabulary.

Religious Metadiscourse

If you assign everything in this lesson, it will take about five class days to get through.

The focus of this lesson is on religious vocabulary and circumlocution. Before assigning it, you might have students review the religious vocabulary they already know and practice discussing it with one another, e.g. asking one another “What does x mean? Is it similar to y? How is it different from z?” Model this for them and then have them practice in pairs or small groups.

This lesson is also the first one in this module that has instructions in Swahili, because one of the proficiency goals is being able to understand simple written instructions. You may need to go over some vocabulary used in the instructions. You might have students practice writing instructions for one another and see if they can carry out the instructions. (In class, these could be simple activities like Erase the chalkboard or Arrange the chairs in a circle, etc.)

Kabla ya kusoma

Ask students to bring their list to class to brainstorm a shared longer list. You could also review the concept of kisichoonekena with non-religious vocabulary, e.g. various other abstract concepts that are unseeable such as love, pride, etc. Have students practice using this vocabulary in sentences, offering definitions using circumlocution, etc.

Soma

Assign Primary Source 2 for homework. You could go over it in class afterwards if there is vocabulary or grammar that students find too difficult in it.

Baada ya kusoma

Zoezi la kwanza

This is a self-check exercise designed to get students to notice the various words used for invisible beings.

Zoezi la pili

Assign each student one invisible being to examine more closely in the interview and through other research. If you have access to various Swahili dictionaries, bring as many as you can to class so students can compare and contrast how different dictionaries define these words. During the following class period, each student can present what they learned.


Insha ya kujumlisha ulichojifunza

In this final assessment, students will need at least two weeks to conduct their research into an interesting topic related to religion in East Africa, including conducting an interview with a Swahili speaker, and to write a final five-page essay. You might break it up into smaller assignments with deadlines spread out over a few weeks, such as a one-paragraph abstract of the topic, a list of interview questions/topics, an annotated bibliography, or a rough draft of the essay, with periodic opportunities for feedback from you and classmates. You might specify how long the interview should be, ask students to transcribe it, etc. Most of the work can be done outside of class, but you will need at least one class day to discuss the assignment, have students brainstorm ideas or give one another peer feedback, and one class day for presentations.

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Dini Afrika ya Mashariki by Katrina Daly Thompson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.