An exploration of the knowledge base for teaching language that foundation phase teachers bring into the Advanced Certificate in Teaching (ACT) Programme.
Mcaba, Pandora Pemrose Sibongiseni.
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This study explores the knowledge base that Foundation Phase teachers have regarding language teaching when they enrol on the Advanced Certificate in Teaching (ACT). The ACT is a part-time programme for practicing teachers who already have a teaching diploma. The purpose of this study was to explore the teachers’ knowledge base, with the focus on English First Additional Language (EFAL) and Home Language (HL). Data was collected from eighty-six students registered for ACT at UKZN. The approach adopted for this study is an interpretive approach. Quantitative data was collected through tests and qualitative data through interviews. The focus of the test was on Content Knowledge (CK), Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) and beliefs that Foundation Phase teachers have regarding the teaching of language EFAL and HL. South Africa has performed poorly in the studies conducted in the South African Consortium for Monitoring Education Quality (SACMEQ), (2002) and Progress in International reading (PIRLS), (2006, and 2011). In the Annual National Assessment (ANA), learners did not achieve as per the required standard, which was 50%. Many studies conducted have identified language gaps especially with reading in Foundation Phase (FP), hence many reading intervention strategies were initiated by the Department of Education, but results have not been promising. In 2011, Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) were introduced with English as an additional compulsory subject in the FP with the hope that learners would develop English competence (DBE, 2011). However, language results were consistently poor. Teachers in the FP have to be in possession of a distinctive body of knowledge to be able to teach effectively. At the same time, Literacy content knowledge is not enough if teachers do not have appropriate strategies to teach each literacy component. It is important for teachers to understand how to connect CK and PCK. The research findings were that teachers’ content and PCK was lacking, as most teachers did not get trained in curriculum transformation and could not implement the necessary changes. Teachers in this study did not identify a similar body of CK required by FP teachers to teach, which shows there is little agreement amongst teachers regarding this. At the same time, a quarter of teachers struggled to diagnose reading errors in English and isiZulu, despite the fact that isiZulu teachers were the majority in the study. Regarding PCK, 23% of participants seemed not able to articulate how they could use the example of a picture of a market place as a resource to enhance language. Participants noted that the reasons for learners’ lack of language acquisition were external factors like the lack of resources and lack of parental support. Many did not see their own pedagogy as a reason for learners not developing language skills effectively.