Journal for Language Teaching

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Reading problems in the Intermediate Phase: Grade 4 teachers’ opinions

Thembi Phala, Anna Johanna Hugo


Reading is currently a matter of great concern in South Africa where most learners including Grade 4 learners are reading below their grade level. The research project discussed in this article investigated Grade 4 teachers’ perceptions of teaching learners to read. Teachers’ perceptions could influence their attitude to reading and the ways in which they would teach reading. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological system theory and qualitative research design were used in the study. Seven Grade 4 teachers, among whom was the teacher used in the pilot study, were interviewed and observed while teaching reading in the classroom to gain first-hand understanding of how reading is taught in English as the home language in Grade 4. For some of the learners English was, however, the first additional language. The findings of the study revealed that the teachers understood what reading is; and also the importance of teaching reading. It was, however, noted that not all the Grade 4 teachers were trained in how to teach reading. Although the teachers who took part in the study used different approaches to teach reading, not all of them were in a position to use a combined approach. The grade 4 teachers aired their concerns about the increase in the number of learning areas the learners had to study on entering Grade 4. They also raised their concerns about the lack of support they get from district officials. In the opinion of the teachers the parents were also insufficiently involved in the lives of their children.

Keywords: reading in home language, reading problems, Grade 4 learners, training of Grade 4 teachers
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