Conflicting paradigms : an investigation into teachers' perceptions of language teaching in English second language primary school classrooms, KwaZulu-Natal.
Stielau, Joanne Dorothy Melanie.
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The aim of this dissertation is to contribute towards research in the area of Second Language Learning and Teaching, with particular focus on English Second Language (ESL) Learning and Teaching in the context of a South African distance college. This report investigates the notion of 'best practice' in language classrooms and compares this notion with a sample of teachers' own views about what constitutes 'best practice' in language teaching. Included in this report are critical discussions regarding language teacher education and the pervasive influence of different language policies in South Africa with regard to the way such policies have influenced teachers' beliefs about their practice. There is also a focus on the debate surrounding the prescription of a single 'best practice' in teacher education. The investigative approach used in this research was essentially qualitative and this report includes details on the benefits and challenges of the narrative task as a research tool, as well as much authentic material in the form of student responses. This investigation found that while many teachers do support practices which are in keeping with official notions of 'best practice' as described in the South African language-in-education policy and Curriculum 2005, there are significant numbers of teachers who advocate practices for language teaching which seem to contradict the notion of 'best practice' including Subtractive Bilingualism, Audiolingual methodology, rote learning and even coersion. Based on these findings, recommendations for the upgrading of existing teacher education programmes and the development of new programmes include the following: • information on changing policies and practices. • credibility in change through practice. • enactment of a process syllabus. • skills development in general classroom practice. • language development as part of teacher education. • acceptance that there is no 'best method'. • the development of broad critical reflexive practice in teachers.
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