A task-based approach to improving the communicative skills of university students learning Afrikaans as an additional language
This paper reports on a qualitative study which was conducted with first-year Afrikaans Language Acquisition students in the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. The aim of the study was to determine how task-based activities contribute to the teaching and learning of communication skills in Afrikaans as an additional language. The aim therefore was not to present quantitative data, but to look at the attitudes and perceptions of the students and the lecturer through questionnaires and interviews. This study was explorative in nature and made use of task-based activities for the teaching of Afrikaans as an additional language to university students by using authentic material in pedagogic tasks. A secondary aim was to prove the acquisition of Afrikaans by way of spontaneous communication and interaction with the target language. The study was undertaken specifically on the teaching and learning of Afrikaans as an additional language in the context of the language acquisition classroom. The framework which was used and implemented in this study was a combination of qualitative research and the task-based approach to language teaching. A brief review is provided of the implementation of a taskbased syllabus after a needs-analysis was conducted with students registered for the Afrikaans Language Acquisition module at the university. In addition, a brief review will be given of the criteria used in the design of the syllabus, the teaching materials and the teaching programme. The outcome of the tasks was formulated according to what students needed to do with Afrikaans in the university context and is therefore focused on the students’ needs. The focus was not on the formal linguistic aspects of the language but rather the functions thereof. The students were encouraged to participate and they learned Afrikaans by completing the tasks. The communicative potential of the task-based activities in the teaching programme is evaluated. This study showed that task-based activities contributed to the communication skills of students in the Afrikaans Language Acquisition class.
Keywords: Task-based teaching and learning, qualitative study, communication skills, Afrikaans language acquisition