ENHANCING THE SELF-CONCEPT OF ESL LEARNERS WITH LITERACY DIFFICULTIES: EXPLORING THE VALUE OF A PSYCHO-LINGUISTIC, WHOLE-LANGUAGE LITERACY INTERVENTION PERSPECTIVE
University of the Free State (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2018
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:A large percentage of learners in South Africa are taught in English for a variety of reasons. This means that they are exposed to English before they have established a solid foundation in their mother tongue. Thus, their acquisition of English also occurs at the expense of their mother tongue and starts before a solid foundation in the mother tongue has been established. This practice has a considerably negative effect on the literacy skills of ESL learners, as shown by national and international surveys. Consequently, these learners may also develop a lack of confidence in their ability to succeed, thus contributing to a lower self-concept. The present study utilized a quantitative research design and sampled ESL learners with literacy difficulties in the Intermediate Phase. Utilizing a pre-test/post-test research design we aimed to determine whether ESL learners’ self-concept can improve significantly after the application of a literacy intervention program, embedded in the theoretical perspectives of psycho-linguistic theorists, who favour a whole-language approach to literacy development. The Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale was administered prior to and after the literacy intervention program to compare pre-test and post-test scores on the Piers Harris (i.e. whether the implementation of this literacy intervention program can yield significant results in the total self-concept score of the learners participants). Results from the current study have shown that ESL learners’ total self-concept scores improved significantly, as well as in four of the six domains of the Piers-Harris. When one focuses on the two variables of this study, namely self-concept and literacy, the results clearly show that ESL learners may benefit as a result of the implementation of a literacy intervention program that considers a whole-language approach to literacy development. Moreover, the authors argue that that there is an urgent need to address the literacy crisis, not only in South Africa, but globally, especially the plight of ESL learners should be prioritized. In this regard proper and essential infrastructure should be in place to support ESL learners’ literacy and self-concept and this requires the prioritization of the quality of ESL learning and teaching in the classroom, in general.
Keywords: Self-concept, ESL learners, literacy, Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale.