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What factors are affecting first additional language teaching in South African foundation phase classes? There are many factors that affects the teaching of a first additional language in South African classrooms. However I will be focusing on the factors that I observed during my teaching practice. Alongside these factors there are strategies that should be implemented to help and support first additional language learners in learning Afrikaans.
According to Ellen Lenyai, South Africa consists of eleven official languages, thus making it a multilingual country. Therefore it is important for learners to be able to communicate in other official languages in order to reach high levels of proficiency in at least two official languages (pg 70). According to Julie O’ Connor and Martha Geiger, thus leaving the majority of South African learners bi – or multi-lingual, who attends a school whose medium of instruction is not their home language. Which leads to these learners being inappropriately referred for speech language therapy due to a language disorder. Hence these learners are being pathologised due to educators interpreting language differences as deficiencies.
Therefore speech language therapists should work with educators to promote language learning and prevent academic difficulties that are related to language (pg 352) According to Julie O’ Connor and Martha Geiger, the language policy uses an additive approach to bilingualism or multilingualism where the school’s medium of instruction is used as the basis for learning an additional language. This approach has benefits for learners as learners’ language improves with regards to cognitive, linguistic and academic growth (pg 254). Cummins (2000) distinguishes between basic interpersonal communication skills and cognitive academic language proficiency. The registers of language that children acquire in school and which they need to use effectively if they are to progress successfully through the grades.
Although learners need to be able to use Afrikaans competently among peers and in social settings (BICS) they may not be proficient in the type of language expected in the classroom (CALP). While it takes English second or other language learners approximately two years to become competent in Afrikaans (BICS), it takes them five to seven years to reach the same level as their first language peers in terms of CALP (pg 254). According to Julie O’ Connor and Martha Geiger, educators are concerned that learners are not receiving any support or help at home with regards to the teaching of an additional language. Therefore parents need to collaborate with teachers and be informed about language acquisition and language stimulation (pg 254). These are the factors that I have observed and experienced while completing my teaching practice this year in grade two classroom.
In order to build learners vocabulary the teacher will teach new content through the use of rhymes, poems, songs or drama. The teacher can also label items in the classroom by using flashcards and placing it on the items within the classroom. In addition to increasing and building learners vocabulary their parents can make flashcards with the words in Afrikaans and place them on items in the house. For example, the chair would be stoel. However the spelling of the words would be a challenge, as learners will use and spell the words wrong due to these words sounding the same or similar. Therefore the phonological movement of the mouth is important. For example, vier and vuur. Ask learners to look at the movement of your mouth when pronouncing these words. Now tell learners that vier is flat and vuur is round. So when learners do get confused with regards to spelling these words the teacher guides learners by hinting that it is round or flat. Another strategy that the teacher used was to speak in Afrikaans throughout the lesson with translation here and there.
– Logical processing
In order for learners to develop this skill, the teacher would tell a short story to the class during shared reading. Firstly the teacher would introduce the book to the class and ask learners what is the title of the book? Who is the illustrator? Who is the author? Next the teacher will ask learners to predict what the story is about based on the cover page and a few pages in the book. The teacher will now start to read the book to the class. Once the teacher has completed reading the story she will then ask questions based on the story. Such as, did you enjoy the story? Which part was your favourite? After this learners will receive an activity where they have to arrange the pictures or sentences in order from beginning to end. This is called sequencing. Sometimes learners are even asked to dramatize the events that occurred within the story, from beginning to the end.
– Problems with sentence structure
The teacher would use sentence strips that she cuts up. This means that the words within that sentence would be separated and jumbled. Learners then have to use these jumbled words to form a sentence correctly. Once learners have completed this activity and formed a sentence correctly they have to read the sentence out aloud. Learners will sometimes get a picture with their sentences which is used as a hint. As the picture tells learners what the sentence is about. This activity tests learners cognitive ability. The picture represents the sentence which accommodates visual and verbal linguistic learners. However this activity can be time consuming as some learners might not be able to form and structure sentences correctly.
– No parent involvement
This means that no learning takes place at home, therefore the teacher read Afrikaans stories and label items within the classroom in Afrikaans through the use of flashcards. Due to parents not being interesting in their academic success.
This increases learners vocabulary by reading Afrikaans books that has illustrations so that learners are able to comprehend what is happening in the story. Allow learners to watch Afrikaans programmes on the television. Also ensure that your learning environment is conducive so that learners are able to learn and develop holistically. However the biggest challenge would be that the school has little to none of these resources available.
– Educator does not teach Afrikaans confidently
These are educators whose home language is not Afrikaans. This results in educators not being able to teach Afrikaans fluently and with confidence. Therefore you will find these teachers will write the English word at the back of the Afrikaans flashcard, so that the teacher knows what they are teaching and don’t confuse learners and leave them with uncertainty. This results in educators not using their time to teach Afrikaans effectively, as educators only teach learners vocabulary and not comprehension and reading skills which leads to this being a challenge.
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