Main Article Content

Language learning interventions

Wendy R Kilfoil
Mirriam MK Lephalala
Thuli Shandu
Peter Southey
Lynda Spencer
Brenda Thoka


The writers of this article set out to explore the effectiveness and efficiency of a number of language learning interventions with students who failed a Senate discretionary access module designed to address the articulation gap between schooling and university. The article discusses various reasons for student failure despite language interventions. The students discussed in the first part of the article all visited the lecturers in the English for Specific Purposes Unit on more than one occasion for personal consultations. At these contact sessions, students were encouraged to make use of a number of language, reading and writing interventions within the system. Their use was optional and most of the students in the study did not avail themselves of the opportunities presented. On reflection, the conclusion reached by the lecturers was that students did not understand the amount of time that they needed to invest in their language development to be successful and to overcome the combined effects of previous experience and fossilization. They therefore applied to the university Senate to change the module from a semester to a year model to enable them, through a compulsory assignment system, to force students to put in the hours necessary to succeed. The results for that intervention show that the hypothesis was correct and students need more time and structure if they are to improve their language competence sufficiently.

Keywords: language learning interventions, English for specific purposes, language competence, fossilization

Journal for Language Teaching Vol. 39(1) 2005: 114-130