Professional development in fostering self-directed learning in German Second Additional Language teachers

  • Gerda-Elisabeth Wittmann Research Focus Area Self-Directed Learning, North-West University
  • Jako Olivier Research Focus Area Self-Directed Learning, North-West University
Keywords: German Second Additional Language, self-directed learning, teacher professional development


Teaching is a value-laden profession, and certain demands regarding lifelong learning are put on teachers worldwide.  Requirements for entry-level qualifications and professional development of South African teachers are stipulated in the National Qualifications Framework Act (67/2008): Revised policy on the minimum requirements for teacher education qualifications (DHET, 2015) and the CPTD Management System Handbook of the South African Council for Educators (SACE, 2013). However, teachers in general, and German Second Additional Language (SAL) teachers in particular, struggle to meet these requirements. In line with international teacher development tendencies, this article recommends for a shift in teacher professional development programmes towards a more participant-centred approach. Theories of self-directed learning (SDL) are considered, and it is recommended that teacher professional development programmes focus on fostering the characteristics of SDL in South African teachers (especially German SAL teachers), which would enable these teachers to be active participants in their learning. The article strives to motivate the need for a professional development programme fostering SDL to support the existing developmental shortcomings. Recommendations are made on how SDL can be sensibly fostered in teacher professional development programmes in order to enable teachers to become self-directed learners. Practical recommendations are also made on how teachers can be empowered to become self-directed learners.


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Author Biographies

Gerda-Elisabeth Wittmann, Research Focus Area Self-Directed Learning, North-West University
Gerda-Elisabeth Wittmann is Subject Chairperson: German and a German lecturer at the North-West University. She is currently in the process of completing her PhD on Curriculum Development at the NWU’s Faculty of Education and is active in various teacher professional development programmes for German SAL teachers.
Jako Olivier, Research Focus Area Self-Directed Learning, North-West University
Jako Olivier is a professor in multimodal learning in the Faculty of Education Sciences of the North-West University (Potchefstroom campus).He obtained his PhD in 2011 at the NWU in which he researched the accommodation and promotion of multilingualism in schools by means of blended and e-learning. He also completed a BA, BA Honours (cum laude), Postgraduate Certificate in Education and MA (cum laude) from the former PU for CHE. Before he joined the NWU as lecturer in 2010, he was involved in teaching information technology and languages in schools in the United Kingdom and in South Africa. From 2010 to 2015 he was a lecturer in Afrikaans linguistics at the School of Languages, Faculty of Arts of the NWU after which he moved to the Faculty of Education.His research interests include multimodal learning, open educational resources, multiliteracies, e-learning in the language classroom, blended learning, language planning and policy, multilingualism in education, Afrikaans language variation and screen translation.