The SOUNS literacy programme is about teaching learners phonemic awareness in early literacy. The main aim of the study was to explore teachers’ perceptions and experiences of the implementation of the SOUNS literacy programme in six different Grade R classrooms in primary schools in Mamelodi, Gauteng, with the aim of exploring the impact of SOUNS literacy on teachers and learners who use the SOUNS literacy programme.
This study was qualitative in nature. The paradigmatic stance selected was the interpretive paradigm. Research data was collected via interviews with individual teachers, classroom observations, photographs, textual documents and content analysis. Three schools, each with two Grade R classes, were purposively selected. In two schools, the languages of teaching and learning were Sepedi and isiZulu. In the other schools, teaching was done in English. Data was categorised into themes and sub-themes, the main themes were enhancing the understanding of phonemic awareness and demonstrating effective skills in teaching phonemic awareness.
Sub-themes of Theme 1 were understanding sensory integration with the teaching of phonemics and enhanced understanding that phonemic awareness stimulates cognitive development. The sub-themes of Theme 2 were teaching holistic language skills when teaching phonemic awareness, advanced teaching of concepts of phonemic awareness, experiencing advantages of technical features and enhancing learner engagement. It was found that teachers who had been trained to use SOUNS literacy gained more insight into and understanding of teaching learners to read and write in Grade R. Sub-themes such as understanding sensory integration with the teaching of phonemics and better understanding that phonemic awareness improves cognitive development contributed to enriching the teaching of phonemic awareness. Learners also received the required support for them to become engaged in classroom activities. A new insight was the fact that the letters c/q/v/ and z do not occur in the Sepedi alphabet. However, it was found that teachers still needed support to advance the teaching of the concepts of phonemic awareness, phonic awareness and phonological awareness, as these concepts were not fully developed. The value of this study can also be attributed to its emphasis on improving the pre-reading and writing skills of Grade R children. It was also recommended that the SOUNS literacy programme be used in Grade 1 and Grade 2 to help learners who are struggling to read and write.