Our courses have two levels. Level 1 is aimed at learners who do not read and write regularly in their daily lives. The Level 2 courses cater for learners who regularly practice literacy but who do not use national languages of Senegal in reading and writing, or only to a limited extent.

Each level contains 10 course units. These 10 units can be organised flexibly to be held at times and intervals that reflect teachers’ and learners’ needs. This means that units can be spread out over as many teaching hours as necessary, and that teaching timetables can be adapted to economic activities, family schedules and religious festivals as well as to unforeseen events such as celebrations, ceremonies and funerals.

Classes are taught by LILIEMA teachers from the local area in which the courses are offered. Prior to the opening of LILIEMA classes in a particular location, the LILIEMA materials are adapted to the multilingual configuration of that locality. Letters are explained through words chosen from all languages of which we know that they are used in a particular place, and exercises also feature words, sentences and short texts from all these languages. Because of the great mobility of people and the individual shapes of multilingual repertoires, it is unlikely that we will be able to include all languages in learners’ repertoires in the course materials. For this reason, our resources contain activities that invite learners’ to share their repertoires themselves, thus actively enriching the course content.

In the classes, we teach associations between sounds and letters following the conventions of the official alphabet of Senegal, focusing on the sound-letter associations most widely shared by languages of Senegal. This alphabet does not reflect all phonological contrasts of each and every language, a design principle shared by orthographies that sets them apart from phonological transcriptions. If desired by learners who have previously learned language-particular alphabets with letters not widely used in the writing of other languages, teachers explain these letters and their sound values, and they can be used in class. Sometimes, different spelling possibilities exist for one and the same sound. We do not enforce of these options but explain all possible spellings and tolerate this variation, as well as variation in the linguistic forms themselves. Speakers, readers and writers encounter variation in speech and writing and the co-existence of different scripts, writing and spelling systems in their daily lives, and it is a fundamental design principle of LILIEMA to teach a versatile and adaptive form of literacy that familiarises learners’ with variation.