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South African Journal of Education

Print version ISSN 0256-0100

Abstract

PLESSIS, Sandra du  and  LOUW, Brenda. Challenges to preschool teachers in learner's acquisition of English as Language of Learning and Teaching. S. Afr. j. educ. [online]. 2008, vol.28, n.1, pp. 53-74. ISSN 0256-0100.

Multilingualism in classrooms is currently prompting debate and has significantly impacted on schooling in South Africa over the last decade. At present South African educators face the challenge of coping with and finding solutions to culturally and linguistically diverse urban school contexts which did not exist before. In many South African communities young learners, without any prior knowledge of English, are enrolled in English preschools. Preschool teachers have the demanding task of preparing these multilingual preschoolers for formal schooling in English, and, in addition, are pressurised by parents or caregivers who expect their children to be fluent in English by the time they enter primary school. A group of preschool teachers in a specific urban, multilingual preschool context expressed concern about multilingual preschool learners' academic performances and their future, and requested advice and support from speech-language therapists. To investigate this need, an exploratory, descriptive, contextual research design, incorporating the quantitative perspective, was selected to describe the specific educational context of multilingual preschools in the Pretoria central business district (CBD) and the Sunnyside area. Results indicated that the participants perceived certain personal challenges while supporting the preschool learners acquiring English as Language of Learning and Teaching (ELoLT). These participants expressed a need for knowledge and support.

Keywords : English as Language of Learning and Teaching; multilingualism; urban preschools.

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