A new curriculum for English language learners in South Africa? Possibilities for academic language development at school level

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Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University
ENGLISH SUMMARY : South Africa is a diverse country in which multilingualism and bilingualism are normal occurrences. The importance of English is evident in its economic and political power, its representation of social cohesion and the global advantages it holds. Furthermore, it is seen as language of liberation. Currently, English is the preferred language of learning and teaching, attracting the highest number of learners in the National Senior Certificate examination, which means that many South African learners study through their second or even third language. South Africa’s low numeracy and literacy rates, the high dropout rate and learners’ struggle to meet the minimum requirements for university entrance is an indication that the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) fails to develop the academic proficiency of many South African learners. This study problematizes the Home Language and First Additional Language distinction, and it explores the possibility of a new curriculum for English Language learners in order to develop academic language at school level. The CAPS documents for English Home Language and English First Additional Language acknowledge that, although learners should be reasonably proficient regarding interpersonal and cognitive academic skills by the time they reach Grade 10, many leaners still cannot communicate well in their First Additional Language at this stage. Fundamentally, the acknowledgement means that CAPS fails to develop the academic proficiency of English learners. Furthermore, teachers are expected to continue teaching a curriculum that is failing the learners. The main historical movements regarding second language teaching are discussed to show the incompatibility of bilingual and immersion programmes for today’s South African English First Additional Language class. I discuss the basic interpersonal communication skills and cognitive academic language proficiency distinction to gain insight on learners’ struggle to achieve the English academic language proficiency needed to be successful in academic learning situations. The CAPS documents for English Home Language and English First Additional Language were analysed using directed content analysis to assess whether CAPS prepare learners for further academic study. My research findings indicate that CAPS does not promote academic proficiency and that there is a mismatch between CAPS and learners’ academic development. The two-curriculum scenario, with Home Language and First Additional Language, is found to be problematic because it does not promote academic proficiency. Content and language integrated learning (CLIL) is discussed as an alternative to the two-curriculum scenario in South Africa. CLIL is found to increase learner motivation, promote language proficiency and foster multilingualism, and is beneficial for learning across the curriculum and for the social interaction of learners. Therefore, this study concludes that it is necessary that CAPS be revised and a CLIL-like curriculum be considered as an alternative curriculum to be implemented in South African schools.
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Thesis (MEd)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.
English language -- Study and teaching -- Curricula -- South Africa, Academic language proficiency, English language -- Study and teaching -- African speakers -- South Africa, English language -- Knowledge and learning -- African speakers -- South Africa, UCTD