Workplace English skills for Grade 9 languages in C21 argues that a most valuable contribution of any educational programme in a developing country is the imparting of (English) workplace skills to school-leavers. The Introduction ascribes, in part, the current lack of these skills in school-leavers to (British) colonial education policy which was perpetuated and aggravated by the National Party during the apartheid era and which distinguished, on racial grounds, between mental and manual labour. During South Africa’s international isolation – imposed because of its policy of apartheid and leaving it unprepared for major global economic changes – globalisation became a significant force in international commerce, creating an increased demand for workplace skills (in English) that could attract foreign capital and direct investment. The newly elected ruling party’s answer to both the socio-political and educational legacy of apartheid education was Curriculum 2005. In contrast to the National Party’s content-based curriculum, the newer outcomes-based approach to education, revised as C21, initially failed because of poor management and not because of any inherent conceptual flaws. The research methodology that Chapter One outlines is essentially traditional in its use of the scientific method although it reflects the changing face of contemporary research that is often transdisciplinary, heterogeneous, heterarchical, organisationally transient, socially accountable and reflexive. This approach enlists input from many fields and subject experts in the hope of addressing a problem in the community in which the research is conducted. The literature survey shows that this thesis contributes to the corpus of research by exploring the need and relevance of workplace skills in the context of Curriculum 2005 – an approach hitherto not explored in the context of secondary education. Chapter One also outlines the theoretical base of this study. Chapter Two focuses on resolving conceptual obstacles to integrating workplace skills into the outcomes-based language teaching context. Work is described as a phenomenon that comprises both process and product, thus bridging the conceptual chasm that traditionally separates the classroom from the workplace. A brief overview of the structure of Curriculum 2005/C21 shows that this curriculum does not conflict, conceptually, with the teaching of workplace skills. The focus then shifts to the identification of those workplace and workplace literacy skills that are currently in demand and that are in harmony with the fundamental principles of this curriculum design. Chapter Three illustrates the fact that workplace skills do not conflict with generally accepted communicative principles of language teaching. A tentative theory of workplace skills that comprises the principles of the newest curriculum, Curriculum 2005, workplace skills and communicative and task-based English language teaching is proposed. Chapter Four offers a model that can be used to design workplace literacy activities for the language classroom. Two tasks are designed according to this model, then tested in the classroom and, finally, subjected to analysis. The data analysis reveals certain weaknesses in the model. Changes to the model are proposed. The study closes with a synopsis of the argument in each chapter. Finally, the evaluation also briefly describes alternative research avenues.
Thesis (Doctor Litterarum (English))--University of Pretoria, 2006.