Title page for ETD etd-06012011-142257

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Mashiyi, Fidelia Nomakhaya Nobesuthu
Email fmashiyi@wsu.ac.za
URN etd-06012011-142257
Document Title How South African teachers make sense of language-in-education policies in practice
Degree PhD
Department Education Management and Policy Studies
Advisor Name Title
Prof M Nkomo Supervisor
  • medium-of-instruction
  • multilingualism
  • translation
  • code-switching
  • code-mixing
  • language-in-education policy
  • repetition
  • home language
Date 2011-04-11
Availability unrestricted
In South Africa, the medium-of-instruction (MOI) debate has continued to demand the attention of educators and academics, particularly after the promulgation of the 1997 multilingual language-in-education (LIE) policy and the introduction of the OBE-NCS curriculum in the schools.

Using a survey questionnaire, classroom observations and focused interviews, this study aims at establishing how teachers in selected urban and rural high schools in the Mthatha District understand, interpret and implement MOI policies within their practice. It also seeks to establish reasons for implementing the MOI policies in the ways they do. The study utilizes Phillipsonís English Linguistic Imperialism Theory, Brock-Utneís Qualification Analysis, and Vygotskyís Social Constructivism to explain the findings.

The main findings of the study are that MOI policies are not implemented uniformly in urban and rural contexts or within each context. Learner linguistic profiles, mismatch between a teacherís home language (HL) and that of his/her learners, the subject being offered, the need to promote understanding of content, teachersí understandings, misconceptions and beliefs about the role of language in education: all these were found to be factors which may influence a teacherís language choice during lesson delivery.

Generally, teachers endorse the use of English as a language of learning and teaching (LOLT) at high school, together with the learnersí HL. Although some teachers believe that they use English mainly for teaching, indigenous languages are also used extensively, especially in rural and township schools; code-switching, code-mixing, translation, repetition, and township lingo all make the curriculum more accessible to learners. The anomaly is that assessments are conducted only in English, even in contexts in which teaching has been mainly in code-switching mode.

An English-only policy was employed in the following situations: in a desegregated urban school; in a rural high school where there was a mismatch between the teacherís HL and that of his learners; and also in a rural high school where English was offered as a subject. The most cited reasons for using English only as an LOLT were: school language policy, teachers seeing themselves as language role models, the use of English as a LOLT at tertiary level, and past teacher training experiences.

The study concludes that the major factors influencing school language policies in a multilingual country such as South Africa are the school context and the teacher and learner profiles. In addition, teaching and assessing learners in languages with which they are familiar, as well as using interactive teaching strategies, would develop learner proficiency, adaptability and creative qualifications, resulting in an improved quality of education.

© 2011 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Mashiyi, FN 2011, How South African teachers make sense of language-in-education policies in practice, PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-06012011-142257/ >


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