Examining language used in science instruction in pupils’ conceptualization of science ideas in secondary schools: a case study of one Tanzanian public secondary school

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Fredrick Mtenzi

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Veronica Sarungi


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


Language used in science instruction is regarded as a carrier of the science content to be delivered in the classroom. For the content to be implicit to students the language used in science instruction needs to be simple and understandable to learners during the instruction. The study was aimed at examining the language used in science instruction in conceptualization of science ideas. The study employed qualitative methodology using a case study design. The study involved three form one science teachers (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) of one secondary school who were purposefully selected. Data were collected using direct classroom observations, one-on-one interviews with teachers and document analysis (syllabus and textbooks). The data were analyzed using thematic analysis. The finding show that Science teachers are aware of the existence of language used in science instructions, though their actual teaching do not fully address the difficulties that the language may attribute due to incorrect uses of the terms that form the language. The findings further showed that teachers seem to be aware of the misconceptions due to language, and in very few occasions they tried to implement methods to help identify them and address them. Furthermore, teachers’ code-switching as a method to help learners on language acquisition and usage seem to be a source of misconceptions as their translations bring in words that misled learners. It was generally found that the language used in science instruction seem to be a barrier to pupils’ conceptualization of science ideas. Basing on these findings, it is recommended that teachers should adjust their classroom instructions so that language teaching is manifested in the science classes; and Curriculum developers to include language of science in teacher colleges so that teachers trainees may get used to it.

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