n South African Journal of Education - Needs of teachers in preschool centres with regard to multilingual learners




Multilingual learners are placed in increasing numbers in preschools in South Africa and preschool teachers are struggling to meet the needs of these learners. The aim of the study was to gather information from preschool teachers in the Pretoria inner city and adjacent Sunnyside areas regarding the multilingual learners in their classrooms. An empirical investigation was used to gather information. A descriptive survey was employed as research design. A questionnaire was developed and, of the 36 questionnaires distributed to individual teachers, 32 were returned (a response rate of 88%). The preschool teachers supplied valuable information on the language needs of the multilingual learners gathered through informal observation and evaluation. The results indicated that more than half of the learners in any class find it difficult to comprehend or express themselves in their additional languages. Preschool teachers reported that they used certain strategies to facilitate comprehension but expressed the need for training and collaboration in order to meet the needs of the learners. It is proposed that the role of the speech-language therapist should be extended to support preschool teachers in multilingual settings and utilize their skills in the development of additional languages.


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