Teachers are the key players in the teaching of literacy skills to young learners. The teacher is primarily responsible for using different approaches to teach literacy skills such as listening, speaking, reading and writing to young learners whose language is not the same as the Language of Learning and Teaching (LoLT) at schools. Teachers must plan activities that are learner centred and promotes interaction and participation. It has been found that the use of a variety of teaching approaches and various kind of texts improve literacy skills amongst learners.
This study aimed to qualitatively gain insight into the approaches teachers use to teach literacy skills in the Foundation Phase class. The study’s primary and secondary research questions are as follows: What approaches do teachers use to teach literacy skills in the Foundation Phase? How do teachers integrate listening, speaking and writing when teaching reading in English as a First Additional Language (FAL)? In an attempt to answer the above research questions, semi-structured individual interviews were held with Grade 3 teachers.
The study found that teachers strongly believed that most schools in South Africa have a diverse learner population and most learners are not English first language speakers. Many learners speak one of the eleven official languages, however, these learners are enrolled in a school where the LoLT is mainly English. Furthermore, to accommodate all learners and to implement the principles of inclusivity, teachers had to adapt their teaching methodologies and find newer approaches to teaching literacy skills. Apart from stimulating pre-existing knowledge and enhancing learners’ vocabulary, teachers acknowledged that the existence of diverse learner population in their classrooms implied that the learning preferences were also different. Teachers needed to have an understanding of planning and teaching for multiple learning styles. It was found that teachers took the responsibility to accommodate all learning styles in their classrooms. Further studies should be conducted to see the impact of the various strategies in the development of literacy skills among English First Additional Language learners.