SPECIAL SECTION: The role of African languages in education in southern Africa

Textbooks as crafted representational objects: A comparative analysis of Grade 7 home language textbooks for isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Afrikaans and English

DOI: 10.2989/16073614.2013.815983
Author(s): Fikile KhuboniDivision of Languages, Literacies and Literatures, School of Education, South Africa, Malinda LawrenceDivision of Languages, Literacies and Literatures, School of Education, South Africa, Sibongile MagwazaDivision of Languages, Literacies and Literatures, School of Education, South Africa, Sebolai MohopeDivision of Languages, Literacies and Literatures, School of Education, South Africa, Yvonne ReedDivision of Languages, Literacies and Literatures, School of Education, South Africa, Thelma TshesaneDivision of Languages, Literacies and Literatures, School of Education, South Africa

Abstract

Each set of curriculum documents produced in South Africa since the late 1990s has specified a common curriculum and programme of assessment for all official languages taught in schools as ‘home’ or ‘additional’ languages. However, authors and other members of textbook design teams interpret these documents from different positions and in different ways when they select and represent knowledge and skills on the page. This article presents and discusses findings from an analysis of textbooks widely used in schools in Gauteng province for the teaching of isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Afrikaans and English as home language subject in Grade 7. While designing high quality learning materials for any school subject is challenging, designers of language textbooks face the additional challenges of sourcing texts in a range of genres and of choosing themes or topics on which to base the representation of the content knowledge and ‘skills’ specified in the curriculum. We argue that while each of the textbooks we have analysed is framed by the same curriculum statements, they differ significantly in terms of the content and skills that are foregrounded or backgrounded in each one, in the mediation strategies selected and in the subject positions that each design team offers to learners as adolescent local and global citizens.

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