‘’Language is without any doubt the most important factor in the learning process, for the transfer of knowledge and skills” (Bamgbose, 1992:7). This study was focused on the challenges of teaching Setswana as a Home Language in a linguistically diverse community, where learners present different levels of proficiency in Setswana. Therefore, the investigation was on the proficiency of Grade 12 learners in reading, writing and understanding Setswana on the level of a Home Language. The manifestation of this problem was overwhelming to teachers at schools that they gave little attention to the learners’ challenges, mostly because they did not have any remedial guidance as to a solution to the problem. The study furthermore, looked at what role did the curriculum play with regard to the issue of the metalanguage (LoLT) used in the teaching of Setswana as a Home Language subject. Based on the outcomes of this research, remedial strategies were developed to assist the teachers and also learners in mastering the language itself and the content of other subjects.
The constitution of the Republic of South Africa states clearly that there are eleven official languages which are equal. According to Brock-Utne & Holmarsdottir (2007:67) ‘’the majority of learners struggle to master academic content because of the metalanguage (LoLT) that is used from as early as grade four”. This was also evident with learners in the Letlhabile Area where Setswana Home Language is a compulsory subject in (particular) schools, even though there are learners who are not proficient in the language.
Literature review related to the teaching of Setswana Home Language in a linguistically diverse environment was presented in this research study. Emphasis on what influences Setswana Home Language was looked at, the strategies which the teachers used to help learners to understand the LoLT were also looked at. The support which the curriculum was giving Setswana as a subject and the socio-linguistic aspects which influenced the ‘perfect’ Setswana HL as a subject were considered.
For the purpose of this research, an integration of qualitative and quantitative approaches were used. The advantage of this mixed method of research design was that the data collected can contribute to the validity of the research findings. The emphasis however was on the quantitative approach in this study. Therefore, the research was conducted at the two schools in Letlhabile Area (peri- urban area), in the North West Province. Data was collected from learners and teachers through classroom observations, questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. The audio-recordings were also done to facilitate data interpretation.
Analysis of data was done and it was found that both the teachers’ and the learners’ responses showed that Setswana was limited to the school‘s parameters. There was a lot of infiltration in the standard Setswana where code-switching, code-mixing and Pretoria-Sotho amongst other factors were prevalent in the teaching and learning situation. Therefore, it was evident that teaching Setswana HL in a community which is linguistically diverse was a challenge.
The recommendations from the research findings will help learners to improve their language proficiency and be able to understand and cope with the metalanguage (LoLT) used in the classroom. The recommendations will also assist the teachers as well, who are offering Setswana HL as a subject in a linguistically diverse community to improve their language proficiency and have a good command of Setswana language.
Mini Dissertation (MA)--University of Pretoria, 2019.