Multilingual teaching resources

– Pictures and more coming soon!

Project description

Multilingual teaching resources: primary schools in The Gambia project (December 2021-August 2022) is centered around a one-week workshop with five teachers which took place in The Gambia (21-25 March). The five teachers involved in this bespoke workshop received support in developing their own multilingual teaching aids (e.g. multilingual posters) and in leading a one-day train the trainer event which took place after the workshop. Multilingual teaching resources: primary schools in The Gambia has three core components: 

I. Four-day materials development workshop with five teachers co-designed and co-delivered by three collaborators with relevant expertise / 21-24 March 2022 

  • Collaborators

Dr Clyde Ancarno – Lecturer in Linguistics at King’s College London (UK) whose research focusses on multilingualism and multilingual education in The Gambia. Developer of the Multilingual Education in The Gambia platform.

Kitabu Jabang – Chair of the Organisation for Training and Production of Literacy Materials/OTPLM (Gambia). Gambian language literacy expert with over 30 years of experience, including adult and children Gambian language literacy course design, bespoke material development (e.g. a grammar of Gambian Mandinka), and teacher training

Dr Sabine Little – Lecturer in Languages Education at Sheffield University (UK) with many years of experience in curriculum design, supporting teachers in multilingual classrooms all over the world and developing and running her own project on multilingual resources in the classroom.

  • Five teachers

The Multilingual teaching resources: primary schools in The Gambia project was largely centered around the involvement of five highly motivated teachers who represented a rich and diverse range of teaching experiences, and linguistic and cultural backgrounds. These teachers’ profiles below highlight the complementarity of their expertise in primary school teaching and national language teaching. 

Alhagie S. Cham - P.T.C. 20+ years of versatile teaching experience throughout The Gambia. In his current school: Sports Coordinator Zone 7; Senior Teacher; Stream Head Mentor (Grade 1), School Librarian, and Theater & Drama coordinator for lower and upper basic pupils. He is also an active member of the community-led Adolescent Neighbour Watch Group which protects vulnerable children in tourism development areas in The Gambia.  

Ida L. B. Ceesay – P.T.C. & H.T.C. Primary. 12 years of primary school teaching experience in The Gambia. Trainer for Mandinka adult literacy facilitators for the National Women Farmers Association (NAWFA) (2012- 2017). Business Development Officer, Mentor and Coach for the Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN) in The Gambia since 2020. In this post, she successfully uses Gambian languages to work with and teach young people. 

Abdoulie Salam Jallow – In-service teacher training. 4 years of teaching experience as primary and secondary school teacher. 6+ years of experience of teaching Pulaar adult literacy lessons in Kerewaan Demba for the Department of Non Formal Education of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education. In this role, he has worked extensively with women farmers through the National Association of Women Farmers (NAWFA) and has coordinated a wide range of Pulaar adult literacy projects. Also works as a Mentor and Literacy Facilitator (Pulaar) for Petty Trading, organisation responsible for helping women entrepreneurs in rural areas to develop essential life skills and build confidence.  

Naisatou Konteh - A.D.S (2018-21; the dissertation she wrote focussed on the Mandinka literacy lessons of The Gambia’s early parallel biliteracy programme) 25+ years of experience as National Language Teacher (Mandinka and Wollof): Peace Corp volunteers, St Mary’s College of Maryland study abroad program in the Gambia and  private tuition. Trained and certified Entrepreneurial Coach by IOM for Standing for Youths (The Gambia). Also experienced in translation and interpreting (Mandinka to English/English to Mandinka) and host radio talk shows (2007-2008).  

Bangally Sabally - P.T.C. & A.D.P. 20+ years of teaching experience (primary school teaching and teaching French as a foreign language to children and adults). Aims to develop story books in Pulaar. Remains an active teacher in the Gambian education system. Has taught in a wide range of countries in Africa (Mali, Senegal, Guinea Bissau). 

  • Project administrator

Lamin Ceesay – Undergraduate Student at the University of The Gambia with experience of teaching in The Gambia. He is the project administrator of Multilingual teaching resources: primary schools in The Gambia. He has also worked as a research assistant on Dr Clyde Ancarno’s academic research projects into multilingual education in The Gambia.

II. One-day train the trainer event led by the five teachers after they had participated in the four-day workshop—25 March 2022

The aim of this shorter event was to train trainers to facilitate workshops to support teachers in developing their multilingual teaching aids beyond the scope of the project.  Attendees included a diverse range of Gambian educators who might be interested in being trained, e.g. teacher trainers, literacy facilitators, curriculum developers, national language desk officers. 

III. Online toolkit for Gambian educators

The outcome and outputs of the four-day workshop and one-day train the trainer event are being used to develop an online toolkit showcasing examples of multilingual teaching resources which could be used by primary teachers in The Gambia. This toolkit makes it possible: 

  1. for other resources to be added beyond the scope of the project 
  1. for users to liaise with the three core collaborators beyond the scope of the project 
  1. for prospective facilitators to access relevant training resources 


Several people were key to the success of our one-week workshop. We would like to thank the following individuals in particular: our five teachers for their enthusiasm and passion for education, our twelve guests who attended the train the trainer for their valuable contributions, Alieu Secka at Shelley’s Lodge for making us feel welcome, Mrs Sanneh for her endless support of the project, and last but not least thank ‘Fatou and Fatou’ for their delicious food all week. We would also like to thank Mr Darboe for sharing some of his experiences during his surprise visit.

What does the project contribute?

The project makes a timely contribution to current debates regarding the integration of Gambian languages in The Gambia’s otherwise quasi English only education system. Many of those involved in this debate are motivated by the view that using children’s home language can facilitate content learning, promote a better learning experience in general and support the wellbeing of Gambian children by embracing their linguistic citizenship.  This echoes key international education institutions’ established support for mother tongue teaching (e.g. UNESCO since the 1950s), while reflecting more recent endorsement among donors having previously been criticised for their hidden support for English language policies in post-colonial countries. This applies to the July 2021 report ’Loud and Clear: Effective Language of Instruction Policies for Learning by the World Bank, for example—largest education donor in The Gambia. 

The Multilingual teaching resources: primary schools in The Gambia intervention was designed to be sustainable. The ways in which the development of multilingual teaching aids can continue beyond the scope of the project was therefore carefully considered. The one-day training was also open to a diverse range of participants, including teacher trainers, literacy facilitators, etc., in the hope that our five teachers as well as others will continue delivering workshops where they can support the development of multilingual teaching resources after the project ends. The online toolkit—with examples of material—is also about supporting the sustainability of the project.