Explicit teaching strategies used to enhance comprehension skills of a second language learner


South Africa has a high number of low-achieving learners in reading literacy: 78% of South African learners who took part in the PIRLS study in 2016 could not read for meaning. This study proposes ways of improving literacy in South Africa and elsewhere in an affordable, realistic and short-term manner. The purpose is to show which instructional practices, which include explicit strategies, can be applied to develop sound higher-order comprehension skills. A case study was conducted at a mainstream, non-fee public school. A 12-year-old, second language, Grade 7 learner and two Grade 7 language teachers were purposively selected. Data were collected from various sources: observations, a pre-test, an intervention programme, and post-test and semi-structured interviews. The results of the study suggest that the learner struggled to answer higher-order comprehension skills, particularly inferencing. This research shows how teachers can improve learners’ higher-order comprehension skills with the use of explicit teaching through instructional strategies. The study identified explicit teaching strategies for teaching higher-order comprehension skills to a Grade 7 second language learner and successfully deployed them to improve the learner’s comprehension skills. Teacher education curricula should include the explicit teaching of higher-order comprehension skills to equip pre-service teachers with the expertise necessary to develop critical thinking processes.


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Author Biographies

Sebenzile Mbambo-Marimirofa
Sebenzile Mbambo is a qualified Maths and Sciences teacher. She is currently an Intellectual Disability Studies student at Donegal Education Training Board. Her research interests are intellectual disabilities and inclusive education. Email address: sebenzile2010@gmail.com
Heather Nadia Phillips
Heather Nadia Phillips is a Post-Doctoral research fellow in the Education Faculty at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Her research expertise falls within Teacher Education focusing on quality, professional development, pedagogy, critical thinking and literacy. Email address: phillipsh@cput.ac.za
Janet Condy
Janet Condy is an Adjunct Professor in the Education Faculty of Cape Peninsula University of Technology.  Her research interests include literacy, inclusive education, philosophy for children and digital storytelling. Email address:condyj@cput.ac.za