Teacher language proficiency is central to learner success - where a teacher is not proficient in the medium of instruction the likelihood of a learner experiencing success is minimal. Within the South African context the majority of teachers (and learners) are not home language speakers of English and thus ensuring teacher proficiency to teach through the medium of instruction is vital. Success in the classroom depends on the teacher's discourse and interactive skills, and requires effective communication skills and a high level of language proficiency. Teachers need to be aware of the importance of language in their classrooms, regardless of which subject or learning area they teach.
To address the issue of teacher language proficiency, the University of Pretoria requires all students in the BEd programme to complete a one year module dealing with teacher language awareness. This module, entitled "Language across the Curriculum" (JTK 200), is for some students teachers the only exposure to teacher English language awareness. It is, indeed, questionable if a single year module can address the entire scope of teacher language awareness. This article focuses on the issues surrounding teacher English language proficiency and the design of the theoretical aspects demonstrated through community engagement projects as constituted in the current JTK 200 module.
This article addresses issues of course design and development with regards to teacher language proficiency, what has been learned thus far and how this will be incorporated into future offerings of the course.