Teaching experiences of language educators in selected grade ten multilingual classrooms.
Hlatshwayo, Zandile Virginia.
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This study explores teaching experiences of language educators in multilingual classrooms in urban schools. Urban school populations have drastically changed since 1994. There has been gravitation towards former model C schools. Although classroom contexts in urban schools had become linguistically diverse, educators' linguistic profiles have remained largely unchanged. Teachers are expected to teach in a vastly different context from the one in which they were schooled and practised to teach. Teaching language in a fluid linguistic ecology is therefore a crucial issue. The study explores languages in contact at classroom level. Multilingual classrooms have important and varying implications for language teaching and learning. The South African language-in-education policy advocates for the promotion of additive multilingualism. Teachers are regarded as the best people to cater for the specific needs of their learners. The study examines the realities of multilingual classrooms told from language teachers' perspectives. The study is a qualitative study premised on an interpretive paradigm. The researcher endeavours to understand the subjective world of human experience. Language teachers' experiences will be constructed by language teachers themselves. The study explores cognition and conceptualisation by language educators as they experience evolving linguistic landscapes in their schools. It attempts to get insight into multiple realities of multilingual classrooms through the eyes of the participants. Data was collected through narratives written by grade ten language educators in the Empangeni district. Unstructured one-to-one interviews were used for triangulation purposes. Research findings show that language educators are facing challenges when teaching multilingual learners. They are also conscious of classroom dynamics but do nothing about them. They find themselves in a paradoxical situation as they teach English alongside other languages. They are not empowered to promote multilingualism and they do not get professional support from the department of Education. As a result they have not devised teaching strategies to address multilingual learners' specific needs. Learners' repertoires are not recognised. A monolingual approach is still used in multilingual classes. The researcher recommends that in-service programmes be designed for language educators. They also need to be conscientised about multilingual education. The Department of Education should work hand in glove with the whole school community for meaningful language education to take place. Proper guidelines on multilingual education should be added to language curriculum documents for teachers.