n Journal for Language Teaching = Ijenali Yekufundzisa Lulwimi = Tydskrif vir Taalonderrig - Endorsing cultural relevance whilst scaffolding academic literacies in a particular English for Pharmacy course




In this article, the writer investigates the experience of a group of learners who were given academic language support in the context of a topic that was culturally relevant to them. These multicultural learners were registered for their first year of study for a South African Pharmacy degree. The scaffolding of reading and writing texts on the topic of traditional healing systems was included in the English for Pharmacy course, although this was not a topic covered in any of learners' content subjects. Supported deconstruction as well as reconstruction of texts about the indigenous healing therapies of Africa and China, for example, was included in the English course, with the aim of facilitating learner access to and success in the mastery of scientific textual conventions. The learners of the case study brought individual cultural identities to a higher educational environment that often did not acknowledge diverse cultural roots. Thus, a culturally relevant topic was included in the English learning situation to motivate the learners in the negotiation of meaning via scientific language patterns that were appropriate to the context of their pharmacy studies. The learners were supported in the negotiation of culturally familiar meaning via complex English textual patterns that were also used in degree specific subjects such as: Pharmacology, Pharmacy Practice and Anatomy and Physiology. The research described in this article followed a phenomenological approach that entailed qualitative data collected from the learners who wrote reflection papers, took part in informal interviews and wrote a scientific report on the topic of traditional healing.


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