Browsing by Author "Grove, Agneta Alison"
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- ItemThe English language abilities of Grade R learners in an English-medium South African classroom : is there a correlation between objective measurements and teacher and parent perceptions?(Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2019-12) Grove, Agneta Alison; Southwood, Frenette; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of General Linguistics.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: English is the preferred language of learning and teaching in South African schools (Badenhorst & Van der Merwe, 2017). Whilst there are various factors working together to cause this default preference (see Heugh, 2008), in many cases, learners have not been adequately exposed to English by the time they enter the Foundation Phase, which results in academic difficulties for them (Lessing & De Witt, 2005). This thesis stems from my practical experience with the difficulties that English second language (L2) learners in English-medium classes experience. Their inabilities to express themselves easily and adequately and to progress sufficiently academically in a language that is not their mother tongue are difficult to address. They experience problems with listening, speaking, understanding, reading and writing, and require parental and educational support in order to succeed (Dixon & Peake, 2008). In this study, the English language abilities of a group of 87 Grade R learners at two different schools were assessed with standardised child language assessment instruments. Within this group, there were first language (L1) speakers of English (n = 20) and L2 speakers of English (n = 67). Each learner was assessed individually with a test of receptive vocabulary, the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (Fourth Edition). Their expressive vocabulary was also assessed, by means of the Renfrew Word Finding Scale. The Renfrew Action Picture Test was used to assess the amount of information provided and grammar used during picture description. The learners’ narrative skills (information conveyed during story-retelling) and sentence length when talking were also assessed, with the Renfrew Bus Story Test. Lastly, their school readiness on verbal levels was assessed, with the Kindergarten Language School Readiness Test (Second Edition). Thereafter, the parents and the teachers were requested to assess the learners on the same language skills. The test results on the objective measures were then correlated with the ratings given by the teachers and the parents. It was found that there were large inter-correlations between the scores obtained on the objective tests. There were, however, discrepancies between the results of these tests and the ratings by the parents and teachers of the language abilities of the participants. Both groups (parents and teachers) rated the participants higher, indicating perceived better skills than what the objective tests indicated. As was found in several other studies (see White, 2018; Lessing & De Witt, 2005), the English L1 learners outperformed the L2 learners on all language measures. There was furthermore a difference in scores between the two schools: The school with more English L1 learners outperformed the school with more L2 learners. Reasons for the lack of correlation between the objective measurement of Grade R learners’ language abilities and the teacher and parent ratings of these abilities should be further investigated. This is particularly important because most referrals of Grade R learners to speech-language therapists are made by teachers or parents, and therefore it is important that these adults have a good basis on which to decide whom to refer for language screening.