'It’s just the language'

Elaine Ridge

Abstract


Inadequacies in performance at school level are often explained away with the phrase 'it's
just the language'. This article argues, however, that the level at which learners are able to
use language appropriately and effectively will play a key role in determining whether the
promises of Curriculum 2005 remain at the level of rhetoric or are indeed realised. The low
success rate of black learners, in particular, is dramatically highlighted each year when the
matriculation results are published.
In the main part of this article, the term literacy is explored to highlight some of the
complexities and challenges of literacy development within an aBE context: languages must
become rich resources. Next a critical view is taken of the argument that aBE means
'business as usual' for teachers using a communicative language teaching approach. Some of
the dangers inherent in the rhetoric used to describe aBE are explored. In addition,
constraints on the development of literacy, such as large classes, poor resources,
conservative attitudes and the lack of parent support, are presented; Supporting data is
drawn from a project in four primary schools, as well as from insights gained from teachers
doing a distance-education course. In conclusion, the article argues for inclusive education
that will explore ways to affirm diversity in meeting the challenge to enable learners to
develop.
Ontoereikende prestasie op skoolvlak word dikwels afgemaak met die woorde 'dis net die
taaI'. Hierdie artikel is egter van mening dat die vlak waarop leerders in staat is om taal
effektief en toepaslik te gebruik, 'n sleutelrol sal speel wanneer vasgestel moet word oldie
beloftes van Kurrikulum 2005 blote retoriek sal bly of inderdaad gerealiseer kan word. Die
swak suksessyfers van vera I swart leerders word jaarliks dramaties beklemtoon wanneer die
matrikulasie-uitslae gepubliseer word.
In die hoofdeel van hierdie artikel word die term geletterdheid onder die vergrootglas
geplaas om party van die kompleksiteite en uitdagings rondom geletterdheidsontwikkeling
binne 'n UGO-konteks sterker na vore te bring: tale moet ryk hulpbronne word. Vervolgens
word daar krities gekyk na die argument dat UGO sou beteken 'business as usual' wanneer
onderwysers 'n kommunikatiewe taalonderrigbenadering volg. Party van die gevare wat
inherent is aan die retoriek wat gebruik word om UGO te beskryf, word ondersoek.
Beperkinge op geletterdheidsontwikkeling, soos byvoorbeeld groot klasse, ontoereikende
hulpbronne, konserwatiewe houdings en die gebrek aan ouerbetrokkenheid word ook
aangevoer. Data ter ondersteuning hiervan is verkry van 'n projek in vier laerskole, sowel as
insette van onderwysers wat besig is met 'n afstandsonderwyskursus. Die artikel bepleit ten
slotte inklusiewe opvoeding wat maniere sal ontwikkel om te verseker dat daar diversiteit sal
wees in die poging om leerders in staat te stel om te ontwikkel.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5785/15-2-165

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ISSN 2224-0012 (online); ISSN 0259-2312 (print)

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