Policy, practice, purpose: the text-based approach in contemporary South African EFAL classrooms

Ntombi Mohlabi-Tlaka, Lizette de Jager, Alta Engelbrecht


Curriculum implementation ought to be considered the main driving force for achieving the envisaged teaching and learning objectives. However, a major gap seems to exist between curriculum stipulations and actual classroom practice in many disadvantaged South African public schools. The CAPS prescribes both text-based and communicative approaches for English FAL and provides a description of the text-based approach, including several teaching guidelines. The authors believe that this form of prescriptiveness is advantageous as similar operational standards are given across the board. This article presents an account of a doctoral study that explored text-based teaching for communicative competence in Grade 4 in three public schools that offer English to learners whose mother tongue is not English. The study, which adhered to research ethical standards, intended to narrow the existing gap by interrogating curriculum knowledge and practice of the prescribed EFAL approach within a specific context. While the research did not intend to investigate the departmental language intervention strategy implemented during the period, empirical evidence revealed that the execution of the text-based approach was fundamentally influenced by the strategy. Whereas the participants acclaimed the text-based approach, they had limited knowledge and understanding of curriculum matters and the prescribed approach. Due to contextual limitations, the results were not to be generalised. Recommendations for future research on policy development and implementation were put forward.


Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement; communicative competence; First Additional Language; objective; teaching practice; text-based approach

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5785/33-2-713


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