The language background of children referred to the remedial teacher for language teaching : a socio-didactic study of a selected sample of children in Indian Schools in Natal.
This study seeks to throw light on the language background of fifty-nine primary school children in schools for Indian South Africans in the Durban area of Natal. The schools were all under the control of the Department of Internal Affairs. At some time before February 1982, each child had been referred to the remedial teacher employed at his school, and had subsequently received help in language, specifically reading, for at least the period from February 1982 - November 1983. Even after that time, the children were not considered able to achieve satisfactorily in the "normal" class without further help. Data were initially collected by remedial teachers who interviewed the adult considered most significant in the child's life, using scheduled interviews. In addition they collected information from the child and the school and filled in personal questionnaires. After the first school term of 1984, Diploma in Specialise Education (Remedial Education) students at the University of Durban-Westville visited the homes of twenty children in the study and tape-recorded unstructured interviews with the adults. Three of these tapes are used in this text. The data collected is used to show that despite the poverty many families experience, the reason for the child's language difficulties is caused less by lack of material possessions than by parental ignorance of how best they can encourage language development and help close the gap between the spoken language of home and both the spoken and written language the children meet in school. The inefficiency of questionnaires as research tools became increasingly apparent as the project progressed, and that there is a real need for a thorough qualitative investigation into the language background of pupils-in-need is clear.