Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe
On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751
BASSON, Maylene and LE CORDEUR, Michael. Enhancing the vocabulary of isiXhosa mother tongue speakers in grade 4 to 6 in Afrikaans schools. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2013, vol.53, n.3, pp.377-390. ISSN 2224-7912.
Results of the Annual National Assessment tests indicate that only 28% of all learners in South Africa performed at an internationallly acceptable level. The situation is compounded by Xhosa parents exercising their democratic right by enrolling their children in English or Afrikaans medium schools. The purpose of this study was to develop a literacy intervention programme to improve the vocabulary and reading comprehension of isiXhosa mother tongue speakers in grade 4 to 6 Afrikaans classes. Secondly, the study aimed to determine whether the implementation of the literacy intervention programme will lead to the improvement of the vocabulary and reading comprehension of isiXhosa learners. The research methods employed were a literature review supported by an empirical investigation that included pre- and post-tests with learners and interviews with educators. A mixed method research design was used. The theoretical basis of the study is Piaget's theory of cognitive development as well as Vygotsky's social interactive language acquisition theory. Three theories of second language acquisition were explored. They are the communicative approach, shared reading and the schema-theory. Research has been conducted at a previously disenfranchised primary school in Stellenbosch. Twenty isiXhosa mother tongue speakers in grades 4 to 6 Afrikaans classes at this school took part in the study. Second language acquisition is multifaceted and draws from a number of disciplines (Eisenchlas 2009). Large numbers of learners from lower-income homes experience delays in vocabulary and reading comprehension (Pollard-Durodola, Gonzalez, Simmons, Kwok, Taylor & Davis 2011). Emotional experiences in the classroom determine how motivated learners will be to participate in the learning process. It is therefore essential that educators assist learners to develop self confidence (Linnenbrink & Pintrich 2000). The intervention program was conducted once a week for six months during the Afrikaans period. Skills prescribed in the home language curriculum were included in the intervention program. They are (i) listening and speaking and (ii) reading and viewing. The results of the study indicate that the implementation of the literacy intervention programme led to the improvement of the learners' vocabulary and reading comprehension. The interviews verified the results of the standardised tests. The study concludes that some isiXhosa speaking parents choose to enroll their children at Afrikaans medium schools, because they are of the opninion that higher standards exist in these schools. They are, however, unaware of the important role that mother tongue education plays in learner achievement. Secondly, teacher training does not equip educators with the skills of language acquisition, thus they are unable to support these learners (O'Connor & Geiger; Hooijer & Fourie 2009). The study therefore recommends that educators be equipped with skills and knowledge to deal with language diversity. A second recommendation is that the value of mother tongue education be communicated to isiXhosa speaking parents in order to convince them of the value thereof.
Keywords : literacy; intervention program; mother tongue; vocabulary; reading comprehension; schemata; pre- and post tests.