Original Research

Culturally sensitive adaptation of the concept of relational communication therapy as a support to language development: An exploratory study in collaboration with a Tanzanian orphanage

Ulrike Schütte
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 63, No 1 | a166 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v63i1.166 | © 2016 Ulrike Schütte | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 June 2016 | Published: 07 November 2016

About the author(s)

Ulrike Schütte, Department of Speech and Language Pedagogy and Therapy, Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany


Background: Orphans and other vulnerable children (OVC) who grow up in institutional care often show communication and language problems. The caregivers lack training, and there are few language didactics programmes aimed at supporting communication and language development in OVC in institutional care in Tanzania.

Objectives: The purpose of the study was to adapt the German concept of relational communication therapy (RCT) as a support to language development in a Tanzanian early childhood education context in a culturally sensitive way. Following the adaptation of the concept, a training programme for Tanzanian caregiver students was developed to compare their competencies in language didactics before and after training.

Methods: A convergent mixed methods design was used to examine changes following training in 12 participating caregiver students in a Tanzanian orphanage. The competencies in relational language didactics were assessed by a self-developed test and video recordings before and after intervention. Based on the results, we drew conclusions regarding necessary modifications to the training modules and to the concept of RCT.

Results: The relational didactics competencies of the caregiver students improved significantly following their training. A detailed analysis of the four training modules showed that the improvement in relational didactics competencies varied depending on the topic and the teacher.

Conclusion: The results provide essential hints for the professionalisation of caregivers and for using the concept of RCT for OVC in institutional care in Tanzania. Training programmes and concepts should not just be transferred across different cultures, disciplines and settings; they must be adapted to the specific cultural setting.


Professionalisation; caregivers; orphans; Innate Intersubjectivity


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