Factors affecting the poor performance in Afrikaans (second language) in grade 12: a survey of three schools in the Pietermaritzburg region.
The purpose of this study is to investigate factors that affected the poor performance of students in Afrikaans FAL1 at grade twelve level in three schools in the Pietermaritzburg region. The critical questions addressed relate to the attitudes of learners and educators towards Afrikaans as a subject; the factors that influenced the choice of Afrikaans FAL as a subject; the influence of teacher qualification on the results; and the effect of assessment techniques on student performance. A preliminary review of related literature suggested that no research has been carried out in Pietermaritzburg with regard to Afrikaans - Second Language or in any other subject in relation to grade twelve results. This research is designed to address these gaps that exist especially with regard to research on performance in Afrikaans - Second Language in grade twelve and to expose areas of weaknesses that contribute to poor performance. Krashen's (1982) Multiple Hypothesis Theory will underpin the theoretical framework of this study. I will also draw on Cook's (1991) theory about the role motivation plays in the learning of an additional language. This study employed both qualitative and quantitative techniques for data collection. This involved the use of structured interviews and questionnaires that were administered to educators, questionnaires that were administered to learners and checklists that were filled in by the principals to indicate the level at which their schools were resourced. An interview with learners and a weeklong observation schedule with educators would have added valuable data. Data analysis was carried out with the aid of a computer package called SPSS (Statistical Packages for Social Science). Pre-coded questionnaire responses were entered into a computer spreadsheet file and sorting and statistical comparisons of responses were carried out as appropriate. The study concluded with the finding that the use of a mother tongue and its impact on the acquisition of an additional language plays a major role in performance. In addition to this, the negative attitudes of African learners towards Afrikaans also had a disastrous impact on the results in grade twelve. Thirdly, the fact that learners did not study Afrikaans - Second Language prior to entering grade 10 made it difficult to grasp the language without any grounding that is normally acquired in primary school. Furthermore, students are fixed into course streams from grade 10 and Afrikaans Second Language is forced upon them if they choose certain subject packages. Finally in spite of one of the educators not being suitably qualified to teach Afrikaans - Second Language in the secondary school they were not exposed to professional development courses. Having identified certain factors that led to the poor performance of learners in Afrikaans - Second Language at grade 12 level, I hope that this information will be useful to the subject advisors, district managers and educators to address areas of concern. My recommendations are based on language policy, and professional development of educators. In terms of language acquisition, a second language should be introduced at grade three level. Secondly, I recommended that the Department of Education support the educators of Afrikaans FAL in the form of workshops and in service training and development. I suggest further research should be carried out with African learners but in different learning environments so that a comparison could be made between the two groups. A limitation of my study has reference to research tools. 1. Afrikaans FAL [First Additional Language] is also referred to as - Afrikaans Second Language.