In whose Languages should we Teach? A Comparison of Historically Disadvantaged Student English and Home Language Capabilities at a South African University

By John Senior.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This is a follow-up to last year’s “work-in-progress” paper, which outlined the results of research involving written and oral assessments of student comprehension and writing ability in isiXhosa home-language as well as English written and oral ability within the academic context for Walter Sisulu University extended program students. Since then, extensive work in transformative curricula using integrated multilingual e-learning has been in progress. The key research question addressed is; can linguistic/cultural academic barriers for non-English home language students be successfully navigated by students when supported by an extended program curricula using an integrated multi-lingual e-learning platform? The challenges include significant differences in written and oral home language and English second language abilities among students entering the university system, including significant differences between students in rural and urban environments. These challenges have been addressed by constructing experiential study materials using language and conceptual input from student focus groups rather than professional translators. Their input is then filtered through bi-lingual subject lecturers and language experts. The development process of new material and student responses to their implementation will be presented.

Keywords: Second Language Learning, Computer-aided Language Learning, CALL, Multiliteracies, Language Learning

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 16, Issue 11, pp.189-200. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.461MB).

Dr. John Senior

Lecturer and Chair Academic Literacy Unit, Center for Learning and Teaching Development, Walter Sisulu University, East London, East Cape, South Africa

My undergraduate study was completed in Montreal Canada after which I completed a Higher Diploma in Education (second language teaching) and PhD in English at Rhodes University, South Africa. I have worked in the tertiary language education field in the East Cape since the mid-1990. During this time I have held various positions including: Head of since the mid-1990s English Department at the University of Fort Hare East London, Associate Dean of Humanities at Rhodes University and am currently working with Walter Sisulu University in academic language development. Publications include conference proceedings, academic papers and contributions to text books and encyclopedias. My main interest is in developing innovative approaches to teaching students who study in English, but do not have English as a home language. I also have a keen interest in literature, am the incoming president of the local Rotary Club and enjoy sailing.


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