Identifying potential grammatical features for explicit instruction to isiXhosa-speaking learners of English

Perold, Anneke (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2011-12)

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Given the promise of upward socio-economic mobility that English is currently deemed to hold in South Africa, it is a matter of egalitarian principle that the schooling system provides all learners in this country with a fair chance at acquiring English to a high level of proficiency. There exists a common misconception, however, that such a chance is necessarily provided in the form of English medium education for all learners, regardless of what their mother tongue may be. As a result, the majority of learners are caught in a system that cites English as medium of instruction, despite their and often also their teachers’ low overall proficiency in this language; the little opportunity many have for the naturalistic acquisition of English; and the national Language-in-Education Policy of 1997’s advice to the contrary, in promoting additive bilingualism with the home language serving as foundation through the use thereof as medium of instruction. As an interim solution, it is suggested that English-as-an-additional-language be developed to serve as a strong support subject in explicitly teaching learners the grammar of English. In order to identify grammatical features for explicit instruction, an initial step was taken in analysing the free speech of eight first language speakers of isiXhosa, the African language most commonly spoken in the Western Cape. The grammatical intuitions of these speakers, who had all reached a near-native level of proficiency in English, were tested in an English grammaticality judgement task. Collectively, results revealed syntactic, semantic and morphological features of English, in that order, to prove most problematic to these speakers. More specifically, in terms of syntax, the omission of especially prepositions and articles was identified as a candidate topic for explicit instruction, along with the syntactic positioning of adverbs and particles. In terms of semantics, incorrect lexical selection, especially of prepositions / prepositional phrases and pronouns, proved the most common non-native feature to be suggested for explicit teaching. Lastly, in terms of morphology, inflection proved most problematic, with the accurate formulation (especially in terms of tense and / or aspect forms) of past tense, progressive and irrealis structures being the features suggested for explicit instruction, along with the third person singular feature.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Aangesien Engels tans vir baie Suid-Afrikaners die belofte van opwaartse sosio-ekonomiese mobiliteit inhou, is dit ’n egalitêre beginselsaak dat die skoolsisteem alle leerders in hierdie land voorsien van ’n regverdige kans op die verwerwing van Engels tot op ’n hoë vaardigheidsvlak. Daar bestaan egter ’n algemene wanopvatting dat só ’n kans homself noodwendig voordoen in die vorm van Engels-medium onderrig vir alle leerders, ongeag wat hul moedertaal ook al mag wees. Gevolglik is die meerderheid leerders vandag vasgevang in ’n sisteem wat Engels as onderrigmedium voorhou, ten spyte van hul en dikwels ook hul onderwysers se algehele lae vaardigheidsvlak in Engels én vele se beperkte geleenthede om Engels op ’n naturalistiese wyse te verwerf. Hierdie sisteem is verder ook teenstrydig met die nasionale Taal-in-Onderrigbeleid van 1997 se bevordering van toevoegende tweetaligheid met die huistaal as fondasie in die gebruik daarvan as onderrigmedium. As ’n interim-oplossing word daar voorgestel dat English-as-an-additional-language ontwikkel word tot ’n sterk ondersteunende vak deurdat dit leerders die grammatika van Engels eksplisiet leer. Ten einde grammatikale eienskappe vir eksplisiete instruksie te identifiseer, is ’n eerste stap geneem in die analise van die vrye spraak van agt eerstetaalsprekers van isiXhosa, die Afrikataal wat die algemeenste gebesig word in die Wes- Kaap. Hierdie sprekers, wat almal ’n naby-eerstetaalsprekervlak van vaardigheid bereik het in Engels, se grammatikale intuïsies is deur middel van ’n grammatikaliteitsoordeel-taak getoets. Resultate het gesamentlik daarop gedui dat sintaktiese, semantiese en morfologiese eienskappe van Engels, in hierdie volgorde, die grootste probleme ingehou het vir hierdie sprekers. Meer spesifiek, ten opsigte van sintaksis, is die weglating van veral voorsetsels en lidwoorde as kandidaatonderwerpe vir eksplisiete instruksie geïdentifiseer, tesame met die sintaktiese posisionering van bywoorde en partikels. Ten opsigte van semantiek, was onakkurate leksikale seleksie, veral in die geval van voorsetsels / voorsetselfrases en voornaamwoorde, die algemeenste problematiese eienskap wat gevolglik vir eksplisiete instruksie voorgestel is. Laastens, ten opsigte van morfologie, het infleksie die grootste uitdaging blyk te wees, en is die akkurate formulering (veral ingevolge tempus- en / of aspekvorme) van verledetyds-, progressiewe en irrealisstrukture voorgestel as kandidaatonderwerpe vir eksplisiete instruksie, tesame met die derdepersoon-enkelvoudeienskap.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/17789
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