Intermediate Phase 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 and 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.


Language levels

Language learning in the Intermediate Phase includes all the official languages in South Africa, namely, Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi (Sesotho sa Leboa), Sesotho, Setswana, Siswati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga– as well as Non-official Languages. These languages can be offered at different language levels.

Home Language is the language first acquired by learners. However, many South African schools do not offer the home languages of some or all of the enrolled learners but rather have one or two languages offered at Home Language level. As a result, the labels Home Language and First Additional Language refer to the proficiency levels at which the language is offered and not the native (Home) or acquired (as in the additional languages) language. For the purposes of this policy, any reference to Home Language should be understood to refer to the proficiency level and not the language itself. The Home Language level provides for language proficiency that reflects the basic interpersonal communication skills required in social situations and the cognitive academic skills essential for learning across the curriculum. Emphasis is placed on the teaching of the listening, speaking, reading and writing skills at this language level. This level also provides learners with a literary, aesthetic and imaginative ability that will provide them with the ability to recreate, imagine, and empower their understandings of the world they live in. However, the emphasis and the weighting for Listening and Speaking from Grades 7 onwards are lower than those of the reading and writing skills.

The First Additional Language refers to a language which is not a mother tongue but which is used for certain communicative functions in a society, that is, medium of learning and teaching in education. The curriculum provides strong support for those learners who will use their first additional language as a language of learning and teaching. By the end of Grade 9, these learners should be able to use their home language and first additional language effectively and with confidence for a variety of purposes, including learning.
In South Africa, many children start using their additional language, which is often English, as the Language of Learning and Teaching (LoLT) in Grade 4. This means that they must reach a high level of competence in English by the end of Grade 3. 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 learned 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 placed on 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 Senior Phase, 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 the Intermediate Phase, 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 further grades. 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.

It is for this reason that the cognitive level of the First Additional Language should be such that it may be used as a language of learning and teaching. Listening, speaking and language usage skills will be further developed and refined in the Intermediate Phase developing the learners’ reading and writing skills.

The language skills

The First Additional Language curriculum is packaged according to the following skills:

  • Listening and Speaking
  • Reading and Viewing
  • Writing and Presenting
  • Language Structures and Conventions

Listening and Speaking

Listening and Speaking are central to learning in all subjects. Through effective Listening and Speaking, learners collect and synthesise information, construct knowledge, solve problems, and express ideas and opinions. Critical listening skills enable learners to recognise values and attitudes embedded in texts and to challenge biased and manipulative language. In the Intermediate Phase, First Additional Language learners will use Listening and Speaking skills to interact and negotiate meaning. They will build on skills developed in the Foundation Phase to carry on more sustained conversations, discussions and short oral presentations.

In this phase, learners’ spoken language still needs to be scaffolded (i.e. modelled and supported, for example, with vocabulary and sentence frames). The teacher needs to make sure that all the children get opportunities to speak in English. Because children will progress at a different pace, the teacher needs to tailor speaking opportunities (e.g. the questions she asks) to the level of the individual child. As the children move through the grades, the teacher should expect children to speak more and their utterances should become longer.

Learning will build on the text types introduced in the Foundation Phase (e.g. story, personal recounts, and instructions) and learners will be introduced to new text types (e.g. factual recounts, different story genres, oral reports, short talks).
Teaching time should include daily practice of short Listening and Speaking activities as well as longer focusedactivities spread out through the week.

Reading and Viewing

Well-developed Reading and Viewing skills are central to successful learning across the curriculum. Learners develop proficiency in reading and viewing a wide range of literary and non-literary texts, including visual texts. Learners recognise how genre and register reflect the purpose, audience and context of texts. Through classroom and independent reading, learners become critical and creative thinkers.

Reading is very important for children who will be using English as the LoLT in Grade 4. They will need to be able to read and write in their other subjects, and use English textbooks in the Intermediate Phase. This will require high levels of literacy, and especially a wide vocabulary, in English. Reading gives learners more exposure to their additional language. We know from research that children’s vocabulary development is heavily dependent on the amount of reading they do.

In the Intermediate Phase, you will build on the foundation set in Grades R to 3. If necessary, use shared reading at the beginning of Grade 4 to guide learners into this phase. You can use this method some of the time if you have sufficient Big Books at this level, and alternate with storytelling. If you do not have Big Books at this level, then use texts from your textbook or reader/s. You may also use methods such as Reading with and Reading to the whole class.

Use guided group reading and independent/pair reading methods and gradually get learners to do more and more independent reading. The independent reading stipulated in the teaching plans must be accommodated within the time allocated for reading. Encourage your learners to do independent reading in any spare time that they have.
You will also set a variety of comprehension activities to ensure that learners understand what they read.

The reading process

The reading process consists of the pre-reading, reading and post reading stages. The activities the learner will beengaged in can be summarised as follows:


  • Activating prior knowledge
  • Looking at the source, author, and publication date.
  • Reading the first and last paragraphs of a section.
  • Making predictions.


  • Pause occasionally to check your comprehension and to let the ideas sink in
  • Compare the content to your predictions
  • Use the context to work to work out the meaning of unknown words as much as is possible; where this is notpossible, use a dictionary
  • Visualise what you are reading
  • Keep going even if you don’t understand a part here and there.
  • Reread a section if you do not understand at all. Read confusing sections aloud, at a slower pace, or both.
  • Ask someone to help you understand a difficult section
  • Add reading marks and annotate key points
  • Reflect on what you read

Post reading:

  • If you will need to recall specific information, make a graphic organiser or outline of key ideas and a few supporting details
  • Draw conclusions
  • Write a summary to help you clarify and recall main ideas.
  • Think about and write new questions you have on the topic
  • Ask yourself if you accomplished your purpose.
  • Understanding – confirm your understanding of the text
  • Evaluate – bias, accuracy, quality of the text
  • Extend your thinking – use ideas you saw in text

Writing and Presenting

Writing is a powerful instrument of communication that allows learners to construct and communicate thoughts and ideas coherently. Frequent writing practice across a variety of contexts, tasks and subjects enables learners to communicate functionally and creatively. Writing which is appropriately scaffolded using writing frames, produces competent, versatile writers who will be able to use their skills to develop and present appropriate written, visual and multi-media texts for a variety of purposes. In the Intermediate Phase, First Additional Language learners will need careful support and guidance to develop the skills of producing sustained written text.
Writing is important because it forces learners to think about grammar and spelling. This encourages learners to process the language, speeds up language acquisition and increases accuracy. Learners will learn to write a range of creative and informational texts, initially using writing frames as support and gradually learning to write particular text types independently. They will also employ the writing process to produce well organised, grammatically correct writing texts.

Process approach to writing

Writing and designing texts is a process which consists of the following stages:

  • Pre-writing/planning
  • Drafting
  • Revision
  • Editing/Proofreading
  • Publishing/presenting

Learners need an opportunity to put this process into practice and they should:

  • decide on the purpose and audience of a text to be written and/or designed;
  • brainstorm ideas using, for example mind maps, flow charts or lists;
  • consult relevant sources, select relevant information and organise ideas;
  • produce a first draft which takes into account purpose, audience, topic and text structure
  • read drafts critically and get feedback from others (classmates or the teacher);
  • edit and proofread the draft; and
  • produce a neat, legible, edited final version.

Language Structures and Conventions

A good knowledge of vocabulary and grammar provides the foundation for skills development (listening, speaking, reading and writing) in the First Additional Language. Intermediate Phase learners will build on the foundation that was laid in Grades R – 3.
Learners will learn how Language Structures and Conventions are used, and will develop a shared language for talking about language (a ‘meta-language’), so that they can evaluate their own and other texts critically in terms of meaning, effectiveness and accuracy. They will also be able to use this knowledge to experiment with language to build meaning from word and sentence levels to whole texts, and to see how a text and its context are related. Through interacting with a variety of texts, learners extend their use of vocabulary and correctly apply their understanding of Language Structures and Conventions.

Through interacting with a variety of texts, learners extend their use of vocabulary and correctly apply their understanding of Language Structures and Conventions. In the Intermediate Phase, First Additional Language learners will take more notice of words and grammatical structures they are already familiar with from the Foundation Phase, explore the way their additional language works and take some conscious control of it, and use this developing knowledge to check their use of language, especially when writing.
Learners will explore how language is used, and develop a shared language for talking about language (a ‘meta- language’), so that they can evaluate their own and other texts critically in terms of meaning, effectiveness and accuracy. They will also be able to use this knowledge to experiment with language to build meaning (from word and sentence levels to whole texts), and to see how a text and its context are related.

It is expected that Language Structures and Conventions should be taught in context as other language skills are taught and developed. The teaching plans contain a list of Language Structures and Conventions (items) that should be covered in each grade. When selecting listening and reading texts for each two-week cycle, make sure that they contain some of the language items you want to cover. Create activities related to these texts that will enable learners to use these items, in context. Similarly, the writing texts learners will write will include some of the language items. Give your learners guidance on appropriate and correct usage of these items. Select some of the items your learnershave difficulty with and give them formal practice. In the Intermediate Phase, thirty minutes per week is set aside for formal instruction and practice in Language Structures and Conventions.

Language teaching approaches

The approaches to teaching language are text-based, communicative and process orientated. The text-based approach and the communicative approach are both dependent on the continuous use and production of texts. A text-based approach explores how texts work. The purpose of a text-based approach is to enable learners to become competent, confident and critical readers, writers and viewers of texts. It involves listening to, reading, viewing and analysing texts to understand how they are produced and what their effects are. Through this critical interaction, learners develop the ability to evaluate texts. The text-based approach also involves producing different kinds of texts for particular purposes and audiences. This approach is informed by an understanding of how texts are constructed. This approach will require quite a lot of modelling, support and scaffolding in the First Additional Language classroom. Suggestions for these are built into the teaching plans.

communicative approach suggests that when learning a language, a learner should have a great deal of exposure to the target language and many opportunities to practise or produce the language by communicating for social or practical purposes. Language learning should be a natural, informal process carried over into the classroom where the literacy skills of reading/viewing and writing/presenting are learned in a ‘natural’ way – learners read by doing a great deal of reading and learn to write by doing a range of writing.

Learners should have access to the following for the First Additional Language in Grades 4-6:

Grades 4-6
Core materials
Prescribed FAL language textbook
A reader/readers containing the following text types
Information texts
Social texts
Media texts
Media materials
Television programmes
Radio programmes

The teacher should have:

  1. A Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement document
  2. National Language in Education Policy
  3. The prescribed FAL language textbook used by learners; textbooks for resource purposes in addition to theprescribed one
  4. A reader/readers containing the recommended text types
  5. Dictionaries and reference books (monolingual, bilingual and multilingual dictionaries; thesaurus; encyclopaedia, a good grammar reference book, etc.)
  6. A Teacher’s Resource File/Book: this may be a file made up of materials collected by the teacher or a commercially published Teacher’s Guide

Classroom resources

  1. Texts for shared reading in Grade 4. These may be Big Books or other enlarged texts or the prescribed textbook or readers.
  2. A range of texts to accommodate different reading levels, e.g. a selection of readers with sufficient copies of texts at each level for the class/group. Single copies of readers can be used for pair/independent reading.
  3. A variety of media materials: newspapers, magazines, brochures, flyers, advertisements, posters, notices, etc.
  4. Audio/visual aids