Volgens internasionale en nasionale statistiek word leesgeletterdheidsvaardighede wêreldwyd as ’n probleem beskou. In Suid-Afrika neem dit kritieke afmetings aan waar leerders in die grondslagfase ernstige probleme ten opsigte van lees toon. ’n Studie wat in 2002 deur die Wes-Kaapse Onderwysdepartement (2006:1) onderneem is ten opsigte van geletterdheid en syfervaardigheid het getoon dat graad 3-leerders twee tot drie jaar swakker as hulle chronologiese leesouderdom vaar. In 2011 toon die TIMMS- en PIRLS-verslag (Howie, Van Staden, Tshele, Dowse en Zimmerman 2012) dat Suid-Afrika se graad 4- en 5-leerders die 330ste plek op die PIRLS-skaal behaal het en dat dit laer as die internasionale maatstaf van die PIRLS is. Die lae vlakke van leesvaardighede het dus dringend aandag nodig.
Die navorsers vir hierdie studie beskou leesgeletterdheid as ’n kritieke aspek van skoolsukses. Hulle het dit daarom ten doel gestel om ’n paslike fonologiese musiekprogram saam te stel om leesvaardigheid aan te pak. ’n Verdere doel was om die ingrypingsprogram in ’n graad 1-klas te implementeer en op wetenskaplike wyse die uitwerking daarvan op die leerders se fonologiese bewustheid waar te neem en te monitor. Die doel van hierdie artikel is om te rapporteer oor empiriese navorsing wat gedoen is tydens die implementering van die ingrypingsprogram.
Die program is ’n Afrikaanse fonologiese ingrypingsprogram met stories, liedjies en ander musiekaktiwiteite. Die program is ontwerp volgens riglyne wat in die literatuur gevind is oor fonologiese bewuswording van jong leerders, die rol wat musiek hierin kan speel, en persoonlike ondervinding as grondslagfase-onderwysers.
’n Kwalitatiewe, interpretivistiese benadering en ingrypingsnavorsing tydens ’n gevallestudie is gebruik om die integrasie van musiek en stories te verken, te beskryf en te verklaar. Data is ingesamel deur visuele bewysstukke, dokumente, waarneming, onderhoude en die hou van ’n navorsingsjoernaal. Die data-ontleding het plaasgevind deur kodering en identifisering van temas. In hierdie navorsing is daar hoofsaaklik gebruik gemaak van Howard Gardner se multi-intelligensies met die klem op die musikale en linguistiese intelligensies. Die integrasie met die kunste en geletterdheid van Russell-Bowie het ook gedien as teoretiese motivering vir die ontwerp van die program en die navorsing.
Nadat die program toegepas is, kon sekere bevindinge saamgestel word. Die finale bevindinge van die navorsing het getoon dat musiek wel ’n positiewe rol speel in die aanleer van fonologiese vaardighede as leesgeletterdheidsvaardigheid by Afrikaanssprekende leerders in graad 1. Die waarde van die program lê daarin dat onderwysers met of sonder musiekkennis of -vaardighede musiek kan gebruik om fonologiese bewuswording te stimuleer. Die meer gespesialiseerde musiekonderrig kan dan gebruik word wanneer leerders in meer gevorderde musiekvaardighede en -konsepte onderrig word.
National and international statistics reveal that reading literacy skills are regarded as a global problem. In South Africa this problem is assuming critical proportions, with learners in the foundation phase displaying serious reading problems. A possible reason for this is that phonology is not implemented as a prominent teaching strategy in grade 1. The omission of certain language skills, for instance phonological awareness, leads to poor performance in young learners. Ineffective methods of reading instruction also have a significant negative influence on learners’ reading literacy skills. A literacy and numeracy study conducted by the Department of Education of the Western Cape (Western Cape Department of Education 2006:1) showed that grade 3 learners are performing at a level two or three years below their chronological age. In 2011 the TIMM and PIRLS reports (Howie, Van Staden, Tshele, Dowse and Zimmerman 2012) showed that South Africa’s grade 4 and 5 learners rank 330th on the PIRLS scale, which is lower than the international PIRLS criterion. The low literacy levels therefore require urgent attention.
The researchers of this study regard reading literacy as a critical aspect of success at school. They therefore set out to build a phonological music programme suitable for addressing reading literacy. A further objective was to implement the intervention programme in a grade 1 class and to observe and monitor its effects on the learners’ phonological awareness scientifically. The aim of this article is to report on empirical research carried out during the implementation of the intervention programme.
The programme is an Afrikaans phonological intervention programme with stories, songs and other musical activities. The programme design was based on guidelines found in the literature on the development of phonological awareness of young learners, the role music can play in this regard, and personal experience gathered by the researchers as foundation phase teachers. The programme equips learners with appropriate phonological skills and enriches the learning experience in an educationally sound manner through the integration of musical activities. The strengthening of phonological awareness is directly linked to the improved literacy skills. During the acquisition of reading skills, learners participated in the lessons by listening to stories, learning songs and taking part in other musical activities.
A qualitative, interpretivist approach and intervention research during a case study were used to explore, describe and explain the integration of music and stories. Data was collected by means of visual documentation, observation and interviews and by keeping a research journal. The data was analysed by means of coding and by identifying themes.
A grade 1 class in a private school in Mpumalanga was purposively selected for the study. The school is part of a small rural community, and the class consisted of seven boys and girls aged six to seven years. The class was specifically chosen for its small learner numbers, as this made the implementation of the programme easier. The teacher and the learners were Afrikaans speaking. The learners had a basic knowledge of phonology. The study was conducted over a period of seven months.
In this study, use was made mainly of Howard Gardner’s multi-intelligences, in particular the musical and linguistic intelligences (Gardner 1983). Russell-Bowie’s (2006) integration of the arts and literacy also served as a theoretical motivation of the design of the programme and the research. He strongly recommends the integration of music into other subjects. Music contributes to the development of effective literary skills through participation in enjoyable activities. Gardner (1983) found that learners benefited when teachers involved different intelligences during presentations. Teachers with or without musical acumen or skills can teach music, but more specialised and experienced teachers are required when advanced music skills and concepts need to be taught.
The phonemes were easily instructed through poems, rhythm and rhyme. Interest in phonological awareness was aroused by a range of activities that also tickled learners’ curiosity. The learners were exposed to voice production and pitch as well, as the songs in the KKK programme were written in several keys. The learners enjoyed the songs in the KKK programme. Songs that were matched to the story were composed to emphasise the phonemes in order to accelerate phonemic development. The songs were short and very effective.
Phonemes were not simply learned; by dramatising a story or song, the learners were enabled to identify with each phoneme while they were learning the phonemes as they played (Wessels and Van den Berg 1999:162). The learners were able to express themselves in a safe classroom environment, without their sincere efforts being criticised. The researchers noted that learners’ relationships with one another improved during the implementation of the programme. Further findings were that the learners in this study possessed the ability to respond to music, make music and enjoy it.
After the application of the programme, some conclusions could be drawn. The main conclusion of the research was that music can play a positive role in the acquisition of phonology as a reading literacy skill in grade 1 Afrikaans-speaking learners.