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.
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 use their additional language, mostly English, as the Language of Learning and Teaching (LoLT). This means that they must reach a high level of competence in English. They need to be able to read and write well in English.
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 Natural Sciences, mathematics, etc. 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 Senior 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 therefore recommended that, where possible, learners in the Senior Phase be exposed to the same concepts in a two week cycle in both language levels.
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
Language teaching approaches
The approaches to teaching language in these documents are text-based, communicative, integrated and process orientated.
The text-based approach and the communicative approach are both dependent on the continuous use and production of texts. The 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, viewers and designers 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.
A 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 carried over into the classroom where literacy skills of reading/ viewing and writing/presenting are learned by doing a great deal of reading and learning to write by doing much writing.
Language teaching happens in an integrated way, with the teacher modelling good practice, the learners practising the appropriate skills in groups before applying these skills on their own. The structure of each lesson should be one that engages the whole class before practising in groups and applying the new skill individually.the process approach is used when learners produce oral and written texts. The learners engage in different stages of the listening, speaking, reading and writing processes. They must think of the audience and the purpose during these processes. This will enable them to communicate and express their thoughts in a natural way. For example, the teaching of writing does not focus on the product only but also focus on the process of writing. during process writing learners are taught how to generate ideas, to think about the purpose and audience, to write drafts, to edit their work and to present a written product that communicates their thoughts.
Approaches to teaching literature
The teaching of literature should focus on teaching for comprehension and will include the reading process strategies (pre-reading, reading and post/after reading). The main reason for reading literature in the classroom is to develop in learners a sensitivity to a special use of language that is more refined, literary, figurative, symbolic, and deeply meaningful than much of what else they may read. While most literary texts are forms of entertainment, amusement, or revelation, serious writers create novels, plays and poems because they have ideas, thoughts and issues; principles, ideologies and beliefs that they most want to share with or reveal to their prospective readers. Their imaginative use of language is an added method of revealing, reinforcing, and highlighting their ideas.
The teaching of literature is never easy, but it is impossible without the personal, thoughtful and honest interpretations and comments from the learners themselves. unless they learn how to understand a literary text on their own, they will not have learned much. Teachers often need to restrain their own interpretations and ideas of literary texts, and allow as much learner participation as is reasonable. Interpretation is not about right or wrong. It is about searching for what is meaningful to the reader.
The best ways to approach the teaching of literature would involve some or all of the following.