Original Research

The use of English to offer learner support and enhance perceptual skills development in South African township schools

Nkhensani S. Thuketana, Mmamoyahabo C. Makgabo
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 18, No 1 | a1209 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v18i1.1209 | © 2022 Nkhensani S. Thuketana, Mmamoyahabo C. Makgabo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 February 2022 | Published: 27 June 2022

About the author(s)

Nkhensani S. Thuketana, Department of Early Childhood Education, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Mmamoyahabo C. Makgabo, Department of Humanities Education, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Research has identified the underdevelopment of perceptual skills as a cause of lifelong learning struggles and the restriction of developmental progress in learners. The literature also indicates that early intervention is one strategy that effectively mitigates the long-term effects thereof through learner support. However, the inadequacy of in-service teachers’ skills to assess perceptual skills development, coupled with the implementation of the teaching and learning language policy, are issues for concern, particularly in South African schools.

This article reports on a module-aligned community engagement project conducted with 87 pre-service teachers to assess the perceptual skills development of Foundation Phase learners as part of their work-integrated learning (WIL). The two selected schools used English as their language of teaching and learning. Two lecturers and eight Grade 2 and Grade 3 in-service teachers from Pretoria East schools participated in the project. Play-based pedagogy was used as a resource for assessment as a qualitative approach, thus inspiring in-service teachers’ and learners’ creativity and enjoyment at the schools.

Kolb’s cyclic theoretical framework consisting of four cycles underpinned the project. Firstly, the project confirmed literature findings of teachers’ lack of skills to assess perceptual skills development using English in Foundation Phase learners. Secondly, the use of non-mother tongue language as a medium of instruction in early learning centres affected learners’ knowledge acquisition. Thirdly, the use of the foreign medium of instruction affected the learners’ speaking and listening skills, thus impacting language and cognitive development essential for learning.


Keywords

foundation phase; language of teaching and learning; medium of instruction; play-based pedagogy; perceptual skills development; pre-service teachers; in-service teachers

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