University of the Free State (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2019 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Pages: 9876-9879
ISBN: 978-84-09-08619-1
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2019.2459
Conference name: 13th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 11-13 March, 2019
Location: Valencia, Spain
Reading and writing form the basis of literacy. To be able to engage in optimal learning, the individual must be able to read and write properly. Poor literacy skills stand in the way of academic success and may lead to unemployment and low quality of life. Researchers stress the importance of proper literacy skills as being essential for successful daily functioning and the development of a positive self-concept. Within the South African education context, ESL learners make up the highest percentage of primary school learners. In most cases, these learners’ 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 statistic surveys. This study utilized a quantitative research design and purposively sampled 38 ESL learners with literacy difficulties in the Intermediate Phase to participate in this study. The core aim of this study was to establish the possible relationship between ESL learners’ literacy abilities and their self-concept development. The Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale was administered to establish the relationship between ESL learners’ literacy abilities and the development of their self-concept. Pearson Product-Moment Correlation Analyses were run to investigate the aim. Results from this study demonstrated significant positive correlations between self-concept and the following literacy measures: reading comprehension (r = 0.67); vocabulary (r = 0.58); word reading (r = 0.55); reading fluency (r = 0.55); and spelling (r = 0.50).

When one focuses on the two variables of this study, namely self-concept, and literacy, the results clearly show that many ESL learners within the South African education context still experience exclusion and that the circumstances contributing to their poor literacy skills and self-concept challenges require urgent attention. The paper concludes with recommendations by the responsible parties, such as the expansion of research into best practices, especially for ESL learners in South African schools.
ESL learners, literacy development, self-concept.