1 University of the Free State (SOUTH AFRICA)
2 University of Granada (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 4675-4683
ISBN: 978-84-606-5763-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2015
Location: Madrid, Spain
Employing a multi-method exploratory research design, this collaborative research investigated the quality of early language and literacy environments in South Africa and Spain via multiple methods of data gathering (i.e. administration of the ELLCO; recording of field notes and individual interviews with teachers). In addition, it identified both the positive experiences and challenges teachers experience in their quest to develop English as a second language in their classrooms. The South African sample constitutes twelve classes, all located in the Free State Province, South Africa. These include schools where the language of instruction (LOLT) is Sesotho (n = 4), Afrikaans (n = 4) and English (n = 4). Similarly, four schools were invited to participate in Granada, Spain (LOLT is Spanish and the second language is English). Individual interviews were conducted with early childhood teachers (pre-k and kindergarten) (n = 16; one educator per school). The ELLCO results reported in this paper will pertain to classroom structure, the literacy curriculum, language environment, books and reading, and print and writing opportunities. Comparative results from this project have demonstrated that the Spanish classes scored higher on all the ELLCO sub scales compared to the South African sample. Classroom observations and teacher interviews confirmed some of the main challenges Spanish teachers experience in teaching English, namely the insufficiency of English books and reading material; lack of strategies to build reading vocabulary effectively; and problems related to the development of phonological awareness skills in English. With regard to the South African sample, the quality of early language and literacy development varied meaningfully between rural and urban schools. Main challenges experienced by South African teachers included overcrowded classrooms and its impact on learning both a first and second language, as well as teachers’ limited proficiency to teach English, especially in rural schools. Lack of parental support and learners deprived of quality home-literacy experiences were general concerns raised by teachers teaching at the South African schools, both rural and urban. The ELLCO test item recorded as the most challenging for South African classes was the test sub-scale that deals with print and writing. Finally, results from this collaborative research project between Spain and South Africa have again confirmed the need for empirically validated strategies to improve the teaching of English as a second language. It also highlighted the need to extend the findings of this collaborative research project by investigating the specific role and inter-relatedness of emergent literacy and cognitive-linguistic skills in a home language (for example, Spanish, Afrikaans or Sesotho) and the possible transfer of these skills in L1 to L2 (for example, English). In this sense, future research can play a significant role with regard to supporting L1 and L2 teachers and strengthen our theoretical explanations for reading and literacy development in both L1 and L2. At the same time, it could also make significant, empirically validated recommendations for designing effective prevention and early intervention programmes for learners who experience literacy barriers to learning (in both L1 and L2).
Early language and literacy development, English as a second language, ELLCO, Language of Learning and Teaching (LOLT), Extrinsic and intrinsic barriers to learning, Pre-k and kindergarten (early childhood), South Africa, Spain.