Strategy to improve a conversational isiXhosa module: Insights gained from ‘out-of-class’ experiences of Foundation phase English/Afrikaans students

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 36, issue 2, 2016, pages: 133–140
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2016.1252006
Author(s): NN MayabaFaculty of Education, South Africa


Curriculum renewal in South African teacher education programmes has been a subject of debate in recent years. At the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, the renewal of the BEd Foundation phase programme pointed to a need to strengthen the teaching of isiXhosa to English/Afrikaans-speaking students in order to prepare them more effectively for their teaching tasks in multilingual contexts. In an attempt to enhance the students’ acquisition of isiXhosa, lecturers required them to engage in out-of-class conversations with home language speakers of isiXhosa and to reflect on their experiences. A sociocultural perspective to second language acquisition and learning was used as a framework to understand their reflections. Qualitative analysis of written and oral reflections from six (n = 6) Foundation phase student teachers revealed how this activity motivated them to learn isiXhosa. Furthermore, they recognised the role of tutors in their interactions with isiXhosa speakers, and shared broader learning about their experiences. Insights drawn from findings indicate a need to create an interactive learning environment which allows for the use of multilingual strategies when teaching isiXhosa. This study has implications for teacher educators who teach African languages to non-mother tongue speakers of these languages and who intend to reconceptualise their conversational modules.

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