Challenges facing primary school educators of English Second (or Other) Language learners in the Western Cape

  • J O'Connor
  • M Geiger
Keywords: collaboration, educator experiences, educator needs, ESOL learners, Speech-Language Therapists in educational settings, Speech Language Therapy


We were prompted by the prevalence of English Second or Other Language
(ESOL) learners identified by educators as having language disorders and being referred for Speech-Language Therapy. We describe challenges faced by Grade 1, 2 and 3 educators at government schools in the Cape Metropolitan area who were working with such learners. Applying a mixed-methods descriptive design, a self-administered questionnaire and three focus groups were used for data collection. Educator perceptions and experiences regarding ESOL learners were described. Some participant educators at schools that were not former Model C schools had large classes, including large proportions of ESOL learners. Furthermore,
there was a shortage of educators who were able to speak isiXhosa,
the most frequently occurring first (or home) language of the region’s ESOL learners. Challenges faced by educators when teaching ESOL learners included learners’ academic and socio-emotional difficulties and a lack of parent involvement in their children’s education. Participant educators indicated a need for departmental, professional and parental support, and additional training and resources. Implications and recommendations for speech-language therapist and educator collaborations and speech-language therapists’ participation in educator training were identified.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2076-3433
print ISSN: 0256-0100