South African Journal of Education

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Challenges to preschool teachers in learner\'s acquisition of English as Language of Learning and Teaching

S du Plessis, B Louw


Multilingualism in classrooms is currently prompting debate and has significantly
impacted on schooling in South Africa over the last decade. At present
South African educators face the challenge of coping with and finding solutions
to culturally and linguistically diverse urban school contexts which did not exist
before. In many South African communities young learners, without any prior
knowledge of English, are enrolled in English preschools. Preschool teachers
have the demanding task of preparing these multilingual preschoolers for formal
schooling in English, and, in addition, are pressurised by parents or caregivers
who expect their children to be fluent in English by the time they enter primary
school. A group of preschool teachers in a specific urban, multilingual preschool
context expressed concern about multilingual preschool learners' academic
performances and their future, and requested advice and support from speechlanguage
therapists. To investigate this need, an exploratory, descriptive,
contextual research design, incorporating the quantitative perspective, was
selected to describe the specific educational context of multilingual preschools
in the Pretoria central business district (CBD) and the Sunnyside area. Results
indicated that the participants perceived certain personal challenges while
supporting the preschool learners acquiring English as Language of Learning
and Teaching (ELoLT). These participants expressed a need for knowledge and

Keywords: English as Language of Learning and Teaching; multilingualism; urban preschools

South African Journal of Education Vol. 28 (1) 2008: pp. 53-76

AJOL African Journals Online