FET English FAL

Language is a tool for thought and communication. it is also a cultural and aesthetic means commonly shared among a people to make better sense of the world they live in. Learning to use language effectively enables learners to acquire knowledge, to express their identity, feelings and ideas, to interact with others, and to manage their world. it also provides learners with a rich, powerful and deeply rooted set of images and ideas that can be used to make their world other than it is; better than it is; clearer than it is. it is through language that cultural diversity and social relations are expressed and constructed, and it is through language that such constructions can be altered, broadened and refined.

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Language Level

The First additional language level assumes that learners do not necessarily have any knowledge of the language when they arrive at school. The focus in the first few years of school is on developing learners’ ability to understand and speak the language-basic interpersonal communication skills. in Grades 2 and 3 learners start to build literacy on this oral foundation. They also apply the literacy skills they have already learnt in their home Language.

In the Intermediate and Senior Phases, learners continue to strengthen their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. At this stage the majority of children are learning through the medium of their First Additional Language, English, and should be getting more exposure to it. Greater emphasis is therefore given to using the First Additional Language for the purposes of thinking and reasoning. This enables learners to develop their cognitive academic skills, which they need to study subjects like Science, in English. They also engage more with literary texts and begin to develop aesthetic and imaginative ability in their Additional Language.

By the time learners enter Grade 10, they should be reasonably proficient in their First Additional Language with regard to both interpersonal and cognitive academic skills. however, the reality is that many learners still cannot communicate well in their Additional Language at this stage. The challenge in Grades 10-12, therefore, is to provide

Support for these learners at the same time as providing a curriculum that enables learners to meet the standards required in Grade 12. These standards must be such that learners can use their additional language at a high level of proficiency to prepare them for further or higher education or the world of work.

Specific aims of learning Additional Languages

Learning a First Additional Language should enable learners to:

  • acquire the language skills necessary to communicate accurately and appropriately taking into account audience, purpose and context;
  • use their Additional Language for academic learning across the curriculum;
  • listen, speak, read/view and write/present the language with confidence and enjoyment. These skills andattitudes form the basis for lifelong learning;
  • express and justify, orally and in writing, their own ideas, views and emotions confidently in order to becomeindependent and analytical thinkers;
  • use their Additional Language and their imagination to find out more about themselves and the world around them. This will enable them to express their experiences and findings about the world orally and in writing;
  • use their Additional Language to access and manage information for learning across the curriculum and in a wide range of other contexts. Information literacy is a vital skill in the ‘information age’ and forms the basis for lifelong learning;
  • use their Additional Language as a means of critical and creative thinking: for expressing their opinions on ethical issues and values; for interacting critically with a wide range of texts; for challenging the perspectives, values and power relations embedded in texts; and for reading texts for various purposes, such as enjoyment, research, critique.

Teaching the First additional language

In order to learn an additional language well, one needs as much exposure to it as possible. Teachers should therefore ensure that learners listen to and read the Additional Language for a wide range of purposes. They need opportunities to listen to the Additional Language for information and comprehension (e.g. the news) and for pleasure (e.g. a story or song). Even more important, they need opportunities to read and view the Additional Language for information (e.g. an explanation with an accompanying diagram), pleasure (e.g. a magazine) and literary appreciation (e.g. a poem). Research shows that the best way to develop a wide vocabulary is through extensive reading. however, it is very important that oral, written and visual texts are at the right level for learners. If the texts are too difficult, learners will become discouraged and they will not learn anything; if they are too easy, there will be no challenge and little learning will take place. An important role of the language teacher is to match the level of text to the level of the learner. Throughout Grades 10-12, learners should be listening to and reading progressively more challenging texts.

Learners also need to use their Additional Language frequently for a range of purposes. They need opportunities to speak the Additional Language for interpersonal reasons (e.g. a conversation), to develop their creativity (e.g. performing a poem, role playing, etc.), to develop cognitive academic skills (e.g. taking part in a debate) and to prepare for the workplace (e.g. taking part in an interview). Even more importantly in Grades 10-12, learners need opportunities to write for interpersonal reasons (e.g. a letter), to develop their imaginative abilities (e.g. a story), to develop cognitive academic skills (e.g. an argumentative essay) and to prepare for the world of work (e.g. writing a letter of application and compiling a relevant curriculum vitae). Learners need to understand the purpose for which they are writing and to develop a sense of audience. Throughout Grades 10-12, they should be writing progressively more challenging texts. it is necessary that learners receive regular and timely feedback on their writing so that they know where and how to improve. An important role of the language teacher is to provide high-quality feedback, which is at the heart of good assessment.
Teachers should develop learners’ reading and writing strategies so that they can become independent and lifelong readers and writers. For example, they can teach learners to skim and scan; they can ask questions that develop learners’ higher-order reading skills; they can teach learners the process of writing; they can teach critical language awareness; they can provide feedback that enables learners to get a sense of their own strengths and weaknesses and an understanding of how to move forward.

Learners also need to know the basics of language: grammar, vocabulary, spelling and punctuation. Generally, teachers will deal with these aspects of language in context. For example, they can make learners aware of the structure and features of an explanation (it is written in the present tense; the passive may be used; causal connectivessuch as ‘because’ and ‘so’ may be used). However, there is also a place for direct/explicit teaching of the basics, for example if learners are constantly making mistakes with a particular aspect of grammar, it may be necessary to teach this directly and give learners the opportunity to practise it. it is important to remember that the role of grammar teaching is to support correct language use, and that it has little value if taught as decontexualised rules.

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