Township EFAL teachers and speaking skills: the discrepancy between the espoused and enacted
AbstractThis article examines, through the prism of the sociocultural theory’s concept of mediation, the discrepancy between what South African township English Second Language teachers claim they do in their classes and what they actually do when teaching speaking skills. The study adopted a qualitative research approach and a case study design, underpinned by the interpretivist paradigm. Eight (8) EFAL teachers were drawn from two (2) township high schools that were randomly selected from two (2) separate districts. Data were generated through semi-structured interviews and semi-structured lesson observations. The semi-structured interviews facilitated the participants’ introspection from a professional perspective with a view to both questioning and ratifying the teachers’ personal views, beliefs and the philosophical underpinnings of their professional practice regarding speaking skills. The thematic approach by Lacey and Luff (2009) was used for data analysis. The study found four major problems that influenced the process of teaching speaking skills: (1) a lack of actual learner speaking, (2) teachers’ misconceptions of what a speaking lesson should entail, (3) speaking for the sake of not keeping quiet and (4) ignorance of curriculum requirements. The study found that despite township EFAL teachers claiming to develop speaking skills in line with the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement, their lessons indicate differently. This could be explained by the crisis currently facing the South African education system, with poor quality teachers and low levels of teacher effort often cited as major drivers thereof.
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