An exploration of three rural teachers’ practices on the use of English as a language of learning and teaching (LOLT) when teaching geography.
Mahlaba, Lucky Nkosikhona.
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The purpose of this study is to explore the teachers‟ practices on the use of English as a Language of learning and teaching (henceforth LOLT) when teaching Geography in three secondary schools located in rural areas in the uMshwathi District of KwaZulu-Natal. Three participants teaching Geography at the FET level in these three rural school contexts were selected using a purposive sample method. This research seeks to answer the three following critical questions: What are teachers‟ challenges of teaching Geography in rural schools using English as a LOLT? Secondly, what are teachers‟ practices of teaching Geography using English as a LOLT? Thirdly, how do teachers‟ practices facilitate the learners‟ understanding of Geographical concepts using English as a LOLT? This study lends itself to an interpretivist approach as it aims to understand the challenges and teachers‟ practices on the use of English as a Language of learning and teaching (LOLT) when teaching Geography to ESL learners. Three principles of Geography discourse by Naidoo (2013) were used as a conceptual framework of this study. The semi-structured interviews and classroom observations have been conducted by a researcher to collect a qualitative data from these three grade ten Geography teachers using a case study methodology. Both deductive and inductive approaches to data analysis were adopted to analyse findings using themes that have emerged from the data and three principles of Naidoo‟s (2013) of Geography discourse. The findings showed that most ESL learners attending these rural schools find it difficult to acquire Geography content knowledge presented in English. Some of the factors that contribute to this include learners‟ poor capability to speak/understand English, work volume and the number of concepts used in the subject Geography, teaching strategies used by the teacher to conduct a lesson and the environment in which the learners are located. As a result of these factors and experiences, learners remain silent during lessons where English is used to teach the learners. They also give their answers in chorus whenever the teacher poses a question in English. Consequently, these learners obtain poor results when assessed in English during tests and examinations. Therefore, this study recommends that the South African Department of Education organises more formal workshops based on teaching English Second Language teachers about different ways or strategies of teaching ESL learners whose competency in English is very poor.