Strategies That Learners Employ In Acquiring Speaking Skills in English Second Language (ESL) in Township Schools
The problem of speaking in the field of English Second Language learning is not unique to the South African context. In the sub-Saharan context, ESL scholars have observed that there is a problem with the acquisition of speaking skills, yet there is still paucity of research on this issue. Black African ESL learners in the South African context use English as the main language of communication in business, academia, and technology and as a Language of Learning and Teaching (LoLT) within their schooling context. This poses a problem in the development of the learners’ speaking proficiency. This paper explores the strategies used by Grade eleven learners’ in acquiring strong speaking skills in selected township schools, in the Pinetown District, KwaZulu Natal. The term ‘township’ in the South African context points to undeveloped, racially segregated areas that were reserved for Black, Indian and Coloured peoples during the apartheid era. The study design is a qualitative case study, conceived within the interpretive paradigm. Data generation strategies used focus group discussions with 64 learners. Using Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory as an analytic framework, the generated data were analysed using qualitative methods of analysis. The key finding revealed that the ESL learners had individual and group strategies that they were deliberately using in order to become proficient ESL speakers.
Key Words: Township context, strategies, ESL learners