Exploring schooling experiences and challenges of immigrant learners in a multilingual primary school.
Mbhele, Mildred Sanele.
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This thesis is a presentation of immigrant learners’ schooling experiences and challenges in a multilingual primary school in South Africa. The study was guided by three research questions: What are the schooling experiences and challenges of immigrant learners in a multilingual primary school? How do these experiences and challenges impact on the learners’ social well-being? How do immigrant learners navigate the challenges they are faced with in a multilingual primary school? The study employed Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory as it focuses on the role played by systems or contexts in the development of a learner of which he is part. This case study was approached from an interpretivist paradigm and adopted a qualitative approach. All participants were purposely sampled which included six immigrant learners, one English Language teacher, one Life Skills teacher and one First Additional Language teacher, that is, an isiZulu teacher. Data generation tools that were utilised were semi-structured interviews with all the participants, focus group discussions and diary entries with the learners. Data was analysed using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis approach. The findings of the study unveiled factors that contribute to the schooling experiences and challenges of immigrant learners in a multilingual primary school. Five themes emerged from the data that was generated. The themes were the discovery of the role played by the school context in the social well-being of immigrant learners; inclusivity and exclusivity of immigrant learners during the process of learning; the parental involvement in the adaptation of the immigrant learners in a new school context; the effect of indigenous language as a source of discrimination and English Language and accent as a barrier and also how learners navigate the challenges. Among the negative challenges highlighted were issues of stereotyping, isolation, discrimination and exclusion. The positive experiences included better living standards, better standard of education in South Africa, and the exposure of the learners to diverse languages and cultures. Based on the findings, the following recommendations emerged: The development of strategic plans by the department of education and interventions by the school for the effective adaptation of immigrant learners to the new context, enlightenment of parents about the importance of immigrant learners learning isiZulu which is the most spoken indigenous language in the school, and also the provision of the platform for immigrant learners to showcase their talents and skills.
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