A case study: tracing the development of emergent literacy in a Grade R class
The purpose of this study was to trace and document children’s emergent literacy development in a Grade R class over a period of two months. More specifically, the intention was to investigate whether it was possible for trained, motivated teachers who have access to everyday resources in otherwise ordinary South African schools, to achieve the Assessment Standards set out in the NCS for Home Language in Grade R. In this school-based case study, the sample consisted of 4 children from 1 preschool in Queenstown, South Africa. The participants were selected according to gender and language because these appear to be significant factors in literacy development. The interpretive approach was used to collect and analyse data. Data were gathered from three main sources; (1) a research journal, (2) semi-structured interviews with the parents of the 4 participants, and (3) samples of the participants’ spontaneous writing. These were then triangulated to give credibility, objectivity and validity to the interpretation of the data.
The findings revealed that: (1) Social class, language and to a lesser extent gender emerged as factors which impacted significantly on the children’s literacy development, resulting in some children progressing more quickly than others. In South Africa, language is an indicator of social class. The English-speaking children had a socioeconomic and language advantage which enabled them to make considerable strides in their literacy development. In contrast, the Xhosa-speaking children were disadvantaged by their socioeconomic and language circumstances, which made their literacy progress much slower. (2) The disparities between the English and Xhosa-speaking children in terms of the stability and structure of their families, had a considerable impact on their literacy performance. (3) Finally, teachers in English medium classes need to be aware of these factors. They need to design strategies and interventions to help those children who are learning in their additional language to achieve at similar levels to their English-speaking peers. If this is not done, the gap between the literacy achievements of the English-speakers and speakers of other languages will get wider and wider as time goes by.
School Location:South Africa
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:01/01/2007