Instructional Language Dichotomy on Foundation Phase Learning: A Case of University Student Teachers

Bulelwa Makena, Ntando Elliot Mpahla


For proficiency in language learning, the prescribed medium of instruction for Foundation Phase (FP) learning becomes a prerequisite, as demarcated by South African policy on language learning. Nevertheless, student teachers while embarking on Teaching Practise (TP) find comfort at infusing the English medium when interacting with learners. In contradiction, English language learning is compromised as most subjects underpinning the FP curriculum are offered in home languages. This paradox of mixed opinions on policy, student teacher perspective hence their medium of learning is English language for all courses offered at university level, together with the situation where students are expected to consider FP curriculum offering, really causes some inconsistency, leading to compromised English language proficiency as both student teachers and learners infuse IsiXhosa to a greater extent during the entire process. This paper therefore seeks to investigate whether home language teaching has any substantial influence towards enhancing English language as one of the subjects underpinning FP curriculum. A qualitative approach embedded in a case study design was administered on two purposefully identified university teachers as pioneers expected to conduct assessment during practise teaching. To collect data, semi structured interviews were conducted to understand better the underlying factors caused by instructional language contradiction in-between student teachers and learners. It emerged as major findings that (i) conflicting media of instruction (in university and in schools), (ii) home language dominance, and (iii) policy imperatives were challenging causes on the declining English proficiency in learners. This paper concludes and recommends that for sustained English language development, policies underpinning teaching and learning need to be re-defined as all subjects offered rely on efficient attainment of the language component, thereby leading to improved learner throughput rate.

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World Journal of English Language
ISSN 1925-0703(Print)  ISSN 1925-0711(Online)

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