n Perspectives in Education - A case study of Xhosa and English biliteracy in the foundation phase English as a 'medium of destruction' : Many languages in education : issues of implementation

Volume 20, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-2236


In this paper, an aspect the multilingual education work undertaken by PRAESA (the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa) is discussed. It involves a biliteracy learning developmental research project in a Cape Town English medium primary school. Xhosa-speaking children in one mixed language (Xhosa, Afrikaans and English) classroom are learning to read and write simultaneously in Xhosa (the mother tongue of most of the children) and English. The focus in this article will be on writing development, widely perceived as a problematic skill in primary education, with children often reaching their fourth or fifth grade without being able to do more than copy from the board. I will describe our emerging insights and the challenges we face using interactive approaches to writing. The work provides one attempt to move in the direction of developing authentic practices in the classroom that offer teachers alternatives to the well-established practice of separating literacy skills (separate skills teaching methods). Through this approach, we argue that it is possible to give children the chance to show adults that they are far more capable in their language learning than many of us have previously acknowledged.

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