What is the level of South African Grade 4 – 12 teachers’ classroom English?

teacherI am excited to share with you our new project entitled: Developing the linguistic proficiency of pre-service teachers who use English as a medium of instruction.

Currently the majority of prospective teachers annually entering the education system are not mother tongue speakers of English, yet it is assumed that since they speak English socially with reasonable fluency, they will be able to teach content effectively through the medium of English.

Mastering content material is a complex cognitive process, mediated by the interaction between teachers and learners. In such an educational context, learning can be affected negatively by instructional dissonance (Evans: 2005) and ineffective classroom communication.

A quantitative inquiry

This study seeks to establish what the nature and depth of Classroom English is nationally, i.e. the phraseology used by Grade 4 – 12 teachers when managing learner behaviour and facilitating content material during their daily interactions in the classroom. This quantitative inquiry rests on questionnaire data and audio recordings of multiple lesson presentations across grades and regional borders.

Revising the B Ed curriculum?

Results may contribute to the current re-curriculation of B Ed programmes nationally and may be transferable to in-service teacher development. The outcomes will be a tangible intervention which could improve pre-service teachers’ English proficiency and provide a structured assessment procedure and schedule with which to grade teachers’ oral proficiency in the medium of instruction. This initiative is underpinned by multi-disciplinary expertise as well as multi-institutional collaboration and aligns with the national priority of improving teacher education and development.


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