The geographies of literacy teaching and learning in isiZulu mother tongue in a Grade 3 classroom.
Sibeko, Sindisiwe Petronella.
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This study sought to explore literacy teaching and learning in a ‘mother tongue’ language – isiZulu- at a primary school in KwaZulu-Natal. The focus was on the literacy practices of one Grade 3 teacher, specifically speaking and listening, reading and expressive writing, and written language use, however the aspect of spelling was not included as part of this research stud. The study was a qualitative case study undertaken with one Grade 3 isiZulu mother tongue literacy teacher at the school situated in the greater Durban area. A geographical lens was utilised to examine the spatialities of isiZulu mother tongue literacy teaching and learning, in particular reading, expressive writing, speaking and listening. Data production involved individual interviews, informal classroom observation, video-taping of lessons, and document analysis. The study illuminated various contradictions in the teaching practices of the participant that negated her constructivist beliefs, and these included repetition, drill, and mechanical copying from the chalkboard as part of expressive writing lessons. Although the teacher did demonstrate sound practices in the teaching of reading, there was found to be a need for a range of fun and exciting materials and activities that would actively engage the learners in authentic meaning making within all facets of literacy, in a range of literacy contexts, and in literacy for different purposes. The study highlighted that teachers need to understand that when children learn literacy in the mother tongue, they need exciting opportunities to practice reading, expressive writing and speaking and listening. Practice is not about repetition and drill but about giving learners a range of creative practice tasks and activities, and a variety of printed materials and other media to build a love of literacy in the isiZulu mother tongue. The study also points to the need for exploring and researching the use of digital educational tools for literacy learning in languages other than English. The study has important implications for isiZulu mother tongue teaching and learning and for teacher professional development.