Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe
On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751
This article discusses the importance of major theories regarding input processes in second language acquisition. It presents an overview of the major strands of research in the field of psycholinguistic theories on information processes in the brain, and discusses how these theories can play an important part for effective learning of especially vocabulary in a second language. The past years have not been easy for teachers of especially second languages. The socio-political changes where the learner profiles became more and more diverse in classes as well as the implementing of a new school curriculum resulted in several challenges for teachers. Not all teachers are familiar with the teaching of a second language, and to complicate the situation further not all teachers of Afrikaans Additional Language are mother tongue speakers of this language. Language teachers are faced with the challenge of adapting their teaching methods to cope with the complexities in education. Technological and demographical changes and development as well as the implementation of the curriculum imply that teachers can no longer simply teach as they themselves have been taught. They need to know how new developments on theories of the teaching and learning of language impact on themselves, the learners, and the context. The low rate of success in academic achievement, especially with regard to the South African schools, emphasizes the need to reflect on why and how we do what we do in education. In a recent study on the teaching and learning of Afrikaans as additional language, in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District in the North West Province, it became clear that the majority of participant teachers do not link new evolving theories to their teaching practices. The cause of concern that stemmed from the research was that the majority of participating teachers was not trained in the specific teaching and learning of an additional language (specifically Afrikaans). Traditionally teachers of Afrikaans were trained to teach Afrikaans as a first language. No attention was paid to train teachers for Afrikaans as a second or foreign language. In recent years the picture of learners who take Afrikaans as an additional language has changed dramatically and today Afrikaans as an additional language must be seen much more as a foreign language rather than be compared with English as a second language; mostly because of the little exposure that learners have to the Afrikaans language, as well as the fact that the majority of learners who learn an additional language, such as English or Afrikaans, can already speak more than two languages; thus implying that Afrikaans is their third or fourth language. The aim of this article is to stress the fact that teachers can best meet this challenge if their methods and practices are informed by a sound theoretical basis. In order to make the teaching of Afrikaans as an additional language effective and efficient, teachers must be aware of theories concerned with additional language acquisition and teaching and learning practices since these theories give a fundamental motivation on why and how an additional language should be taught. The theories are derived from the perspectives of psycholinguistics and involve the processing of information in the brain: Anderson and VanPatten's information processing theories, and Baddeley's multidimensional memory were used. This article is an attempt to fill the gap between theory and practice in the teaching and learning of Afrikaans as an additional language.
Keywords : additional language; T1 (mother tongue); T2 (second language); information acquisition; multimedia; work retention; memory; long term memory; leksikon; information processing; vocabulary.