Grade 3 ESL teachers’ (mis)conceptions about vocabulary acquisition, learning and instruction: A case study

  • Jabulani Sibanda
Keywords: instructional strategies, literacy, teacher cognition, teacher (mis) conceptions, vocabulary acquisition, vocabulary development.


development-related (mis)conceptions of ten purposively selected Grade 3 English Second Language teachers in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, with a view to indexing their vocabulary pedagogical practices. The efficacy of teacher cognition on teaching  practices is the theory upon which the present study, which considers vocabulary development as a proxy for literacy attainment, is based. The theory is buttressed by literature on the research-based best practices in literature development against which teachers’ conceptions
are measured. Semi-structured teacher interview findings showed that vocabulary instruction proceeded largely on the basis of intuitive pedagogical decisions which evince dissonance with researchbased best practices. There was a manifest disregard for both incidental and
contextualised vocabulary development, and an apparent underestimation of learners’ potential for independent vocabulary acquisition. Professed instructional strategies only drew learners’ attention to the orthographic and phonological forms of the words at the expense of other crucial dimensions of word knowledge. The paper recommends a consideration of teachers’ vocabulary development-related  perceptions as a point of departure for teacher education and teacher professional development, among others.



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eISSN: 0259-9570