There is a need for information regarding the relationship of phonological awareness to reading and spelling in the multilingual learner in South Africa. The speech-language therapist has a role to play as part of the collaborative team assessing and treating the learner with reading and spelling difficulties. The aim of the study was to examine the relationships that exist between phonological awareness, written spelling and oral reading abilities in four groups of school-aged learners. A quantitative research design was employed in the form of a descriptive survey. Twenty test subjects were selected randomly from Grade 2 classes at an English-medium inclusive school in Pretoria, South Africa. Their class teachers on their final school report of the year had rated the learners as having good or poor literacy ability. They were organized into four research groups which differed with respect to their home language (English or English as Additional Language) and with respect to their literacy ability as judged by their teachers (Good or Poor literacy ability). A questionnaire was designed to ascertain parental perspectives pertaining to the learners’ case history and literacy development. A test battery composed of the Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation (Goldman&Fristoe, 1986), the Phonological Assessment Battery (Frederickson, Reason&Frith, 1997), the ESSI Reading and the ESSI Spelling Test (Esterhuyse&Beukes, 1997), and the TOLD-P: 2 (Newcomer&Hammill, 1991), as well as a Class Spelling List and a Reading Comprehension Task developed by the researcher, was administered to all test subjects. Findings of subjects’ performance in this study supported international findings regarding the strong relationship between phonological awareness ability and performance on reading and spelling measures. In addition, multilingual learners in this study were found to have delays in language development that negatively impacted on their literacy rating. The language development of the English-speakers with poor literacy ability in this study also negatively affected their reading and spelling performance. The test battery used in this study, with the exception of the Reading Comprehension Task, proved useful in differentiating subjects with good and poor literacy abilities and appears to be applicable for use in the South African situation. The results provide useful insights for the assessment and treatment of these learners. Furthermore, relevant research topics in the field of literacy development in an inclusive education setting were presented.
Dissertation (M (Communication Pathology))--University of Pretoria, 2005.