A balanced reading programme for Grade One and Two learners of English as a first and as additional language

  • Rosemary Wildsmith-Cromarty
  • Rogini Gounden


This study reports on a balanced reading programme (BRP) designed for a multi-cultural, South African classroom at the Foundation Phase. The BRP uses the mother tongue as a valuable resource to access meaning within a supportive learning environment. The main focus of the study is on the achievements of six Zulu children with differing levels of literacy potential after exposure to a year-long balanced approach to literacy. The study also examines parents’ views on the BRP and their perceptions of the reading process. Data were drawn from the following sources: teacher observations and interactions with learners; semi-structured interviews with parents; analysis of learner assessments and parental questionnaires. It seems that the BRP enhances both the self-confidence and cognitive growth of EAL learners. It also seems that  collaborative, interactive learning, extensive independent reading, a language experience approach, home and community support and high teacher expectations of learners, combined with high levels of intrinsic learner motivation can positively impact on EAL learners’ academic progress and social growth at school.

Author Biographies

Rosemary Wildsmith-Cromarty
Rosemary Wildsmith-Cromarty is Professor of Applied Language Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.Her e-mail address is: wildsmithr@ukzn.ac.za.
Rogini Gounden
Rogini Gounden is a Foundation Phase teacher at a multicultural school in Pietermaritzburg.