Emergent Literacy and Language support for ECD children from under-served communities in Gauteng South Africa: a collaborative approach

Keywords: Socially disadvantaged communities, early childhood education, emergent literacy, language development, early intervention, collaboration, teacher instruction, Speech-language Therapist


South Africa’s history of inequality and injustice has influenced its diverse population, who continue to experience marginalisation despite the era of democracy. These underserved communities have little access to services that support their children’s language and literacy development. The researchers argue that early intervention supports language and literacy skills of children in early childhood development centres (ECDs), improving literacy acquisition and future scholastic progress. This paper demonstrates that a collaborative approach in ECD interventions influences children’s language and literacy skills, and supports their learning. The aim of the study was to establish the levels of emergent literacy and language skills of the children pre- and post-teacher intervention. An exploratory quantitative and qualitative approach was employed with 20 participants from two ECD facilities, 10 from a middle socioeconomic (MSE) group and 10 from a lower socioeconomic (LSE) group. An adapted measure on concepts of print was conducted pre- and post-intervention. Oral reading and one-on-one reading strategies were presented to the teacher from the LSE ECD. Data analysis included descriptive and inferential statistics, and content analysis. The findings indicate no difference in vocabulary between LSE and MSE groups, despite the MSE group having better resources at their disposal. Furthermore, there was a significant increase in the LSE group’s knowledge on print concepts post-intervention. The teacher observed changes in the teaching methods and in the children’s literacy, confirming that low-cost short-term programmes and collaborations do influence ECD teaching and learning. The collaborative role of the speech-language therapist should support both parents and teachers of children in ECD contexts.

Author Biographies

Sharon Moonsamy
Sharon Moonsamy is an Associate Professor in Speech Pathology at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her research interests are cross disciplinary in the areas of cognition, metacognition, language, literacy and learning. Sharon belongs to local [SASLHA] and international Associations [IALP]. Her current projects relate to transformation of the curriculum in Higher Education.
Stephanie E. Carolus
Stephanie Carolus is a Speech Pathologist and Audiologist at a School for Learners with Severe Intellectual and Physical Disabilities. She is bilingual, English and Afrikaans speaker. She volunteers at NGOs and Edu care Centres. Stephanie’s research interest includes literacy and language in children in underserved communities. She is currently registered for a Masters in Speech Pathology.