The teaching of imaginative language (including idioms) is not only a requirement of the Home Language curriculum; the correct use of idioms expresses inherent cultural values and improves language proficiency.
Phase One of this study surveyed the state of instruction in imaginative language. Following a qualitative approach from an interpretivist perspective, the aim was to establish a theoretical basis for a possible intervention. In a case study of an urban school, a semi-rural school and three Grade 3 Setswana Home Language teachers, shortcomings in the syllabus, teacher training and abilities and frequent interference by neighbouring languages were identified as impediments. These served as a starting point for a programme compiled to facilitate a method of teaching idioms beneficial to teachers as well as learners.
Phase Two entailed the design and implementation of a programme of Setswana idioms in picture form and flashcards with idioms and meanings. After a demonstration by the researcher, the teachers were observed for a month, after which the results were evaluated. Setswana Home Language teachers in higher grades were also interviewed.
Constructivist and decoding theories were assessed in this study in terms of their link to education models in South Africa in regard to teaching Home Language.
The programme was successful in eliciting an enthusiastic learner response, empowering teachers to teach Setswana idioms effectively and ensuring a high degree of content retention in the learners through participative instruction.