Vocabulary : it's all about words working together : an interactive multimedia program to improve senior phase English first additional language learners’ functional vocabulary through an increased understanding of everyday authentic texts and classical and contemporary poetry
The continuing decline in Matriculation pass rates is a matter of concern for government, educators, parents and students in South African schools. According to official statistics, only 8% of South Africans are mother-tongue English speakers, yet English is the chief language of learning and teaching in South African schools. Researchers relate the poor pass rate to inadequate proficiency in English of both English First Additional Language learners and some of their teachers. Research has further revealed a significant positive correlation between reading comprehension and academic achievement. Consensus exists among researchers about the necessity of a basic vocabulary (variously estimated at 2000 to 3000 words and more) for developing the necessary reading comprehension. Theories and approaches regarding the development of vocabulary, however, are sometimes diametrically opposed to one another. Among the most conflicting theories are those which advocate the acquisition of vocabulary by guessing the meanings of words from the context as opposed to those favouring conscious and deliberate vocabulary teaching, which may include lists of words. The current study briefly investigates underlying problems, theories, methods and approaches to enhancing learners’ vocabularies. Conclusions are applied to the development of an interactive, multimedia program for improving learners’ functional vocabularies. The content of the program is based on authentic texts and simulations of situations which call for language interaction. This is supplemented with extracts from classical literary works and poetry and entertaining verses which present possibilities for use in vocabulary building.