n Journal for Language Teaching = Ijenali Yekufundzisa Lulwimi = Tydskrif vir Taalonderrig - Employing constructivist-based principles in an course with a focus on ideology and the media

Volume 41, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0259-9570


In line with outcomes-based education (OBE), language practitioners in South Africa have shifted their focus from a predominantly transmission-based, instructionist approach to language teaching to a more cognitive approach, which no longer treats learners as passive recipients of knowledge. In keeping with this shift, several linguists and applied linguists in the field of language teaching have focused on constructivist approaches to learning (e.g. Blyth, 1997; Collentine, 2000; Kaufman, 2004). This article reports on how a constructivist model of learning, combined with a discourse-based approach to analysing newspaper language, was employed in an "Applied Language Studies in English" module currently offered at third-year level at a South African tertiary institution. The constructivist principles underlying the course are identified, the aim being to show how a discourse-based, constructivist approach may be used to (i) heighten learners' awareness of how global metaphors establish ideology in newspaper editorials and (ii) guide learners in the writing of their own editorials in which they generate metaphors that reflect specific ideological perspectives. At the same time, a common misconception that constructivist learning does not involve direct instruction from the teacher is countered. In this regard, the notion of pedagogical scaffolding is considered.

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