The Nuts and Bolts of Literacy Development in English as a Second Language: Evidence from Intermediate Phase Classrooms

By Monica Hendricks.

Published by The International Journal of Literacies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 25, 2014 $US5.00

This paper discusses the developing school literacy in English as an additional language (L2) of two isiXhosa-speaking children, a boy and a girl, over the three years of the Intermediate Phase of primary schooling in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. My research interest was to monitor whether learners' writing in English L2 in the Intermediate Phase met curriculum requirements and their writing development indicated not only basic interpersonal communicative skills (BICS), but also cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) (Cummins 1984). In order to address my research question of whether learners were developing grade-appropriate writing competency, I used two language indicators that are central for literacy development – quantity and quality of learners’ writing. My findings were that learners did a preponderance of grammar tasks and wrote too few extended texts. This falls far short of an integrated approach to language teaching that makes systematic structured links between grammar and written genres. The scarcity of impersonal, factual genres also meant that learners did not engage with the demands of writing these genres and were less likely to develop formal, impersonal context-reduced writing, or CALP.

Keywords: Second Language Writing, Writing Pedagogy, Literacy Development, Curriculum Change

The International Journal of Literacies, Volume 20, Issue 3, April 2014, pp.1-17. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 25, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.261MB)).

Dr Monica Hendricks

Alan MacIntosh Research Fellow, Institute for the Study of English in Africa, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Monica Hendricks was awarded a Spencer Fellowship in 2001 for doctoral studies, which she completed in 2006. Her research focus was on primary school children’s writing in their additional languages.