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Teachers’ experiences of implementing the English home language curriculum in grade four.

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In the endeavour of the South African government to democratise and provide an all-inclusive education system, its transformative curricula had been amended many times from the initial curriculum change of Outcomes Based Education (OBE), to the current Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS). The changing curriculum policy has impacted the English curriculum, leaving English Home Language (EHL) teachers with the task of adapting and implementing these changes. The national EHL curriculum, however, did not account for different educational contexts that could impede the implementation process – factors such as inadequate training of teachers, or the poor spoken and written English of second language learners. In this study, a qualitative approach, underpinned by the Interpretivist and Constructivist Paradigms, was employed to explore teachers’ experiences of implementing the English Home Language curriculum in Grade four. A case study method was used to collect data from purposively selected participants, namely, six Grade four teachers. The three participating public primary schools in the study, were situated in the Umlazi District, Durban, South Africa. The main data collection instrument was a semi-structured interview conducted with each participant. The Conceptual Framework comprising ten components in the Curricula Spider Web (Berkvens, Van den Akker, & Brugman, 2014) framed this study, and was used as a lens to explore Grade four EHL teachers’ experiences particularly in implementing the curriculum. In addition, the Curricula Spider Web underpinned by the three curriculum levels of what is Intended, Implemented and Attained, were used as a guide to formulate the interview questions and analyse the data. From the participants’ responses, common themes were summarised and reported through the method of content analysis. Besides the theme of challenges teachers faced in implementing the EHL curriculum, other emerging themes included: insufficient time for the volume of content in the curriculum which relates to what is intended by the policy and too many assessments which pertains to the attainment of curriculum goals as specified in EHL curriculum. The data suggests that EHL teachers were challenged with bridging the policy divisions between Intention, Implementation and Attainment of curriculum outcomes. Participants offered practical recommendations such as, a gradual progression of content in EHL between the Foundation Phase and Intermediate Phase as the adjustment for both teachers and learners are considerable. In addition, participants suggested obtaining sustained support from the Department of Education with regard to proper curriculum training and assistance from subject advisors in order to help lighten their curriculum load.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.