Support strategies used by foundation phase teachers to develop cognitive academic language proficiency
The study explores how teachers, in English medium Foundation Phase classrooms, use support strategies to improve Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) in learners whose home language is not English. The research design adopted for this study was an ethnographic case study that was analysed through qualitative methods at one primary school in the Western Cape. The participants were three teachers in their Foundation Phase classes, chosen on the basis of the phenomenon studied. The focus was to evaluate how successful the language support strategies are and to determine any gaps in the strategies used. Validity was assessed by means of lesson observations, supported by interviews and analysis of the teaching documents. Further, to increase the trustworthiness of the study, findings were compared across these data sources and methods to triangulate the results. Findings illuminated: (i) Factors impacting language teaching; (ii) Strategies used by teachers; (iii) Teachers’ understanding of support strategies; (iv) Teachers’ understanding of CALP; (v) Effectiveness of the support strategies; and (vi) Gaps in the strategies teachers used in improving CALP. Data were intentionally analysed to identify pervasive patterns and main themes in the data and a thematic report foreground the voices of the research participants. The study raised questions about the teachers’ practice in teaching CALP. Teachers taught using familiar methods, taught to a task and lacked linguistic structures in their lessons. Finally, the study report ended with a list of limitations and recommendations for future research in strategies that the Foundation Phase teacher can use to improve the CALP in South Africa’s schools.
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