Teachers’ experiences of teaching Natural Sciences and Technology to English first additional language grade four learners.
Gumede, Sizile Charity.
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The purpose of this research was to explore teachers’ experiences on teaching Natural Sciences and Technology (NSTECH) to English First Additional (EFAL) grade four learners in South Africa. One of the major challenges is that grade four NSTECH teachers teach an integrated subject in English as a language of instruction to learners who were previously taught in their mother tongue. This study had two cardinal questions to navigate through the trajectory of the research: What are teachers’ experiences of teaching NSTECH to EFAL grade four learners? What teaching strategies do teachers employ when teaching NSTECH to EFAL grade four learners? The study is qualitative in nature and is located within an interpretive paradigm where questionnaires and semi-structured interviews were the key instruments to generate the needed data. Purposive sampling was employed to select four teachers as participants in the study. The sample is made up of female and male teachers’ who teach NSTECH using English as a language of learning and teaching (LoLT) to grade four learners with varying years of experience. The findings of the study revealed that teachers experienced various challenges due to learners having little understanding of English as a Language of Learning and Teaching (LoLT). Teachers’ are faced with abstract terms that learners could not even witness with their eyes, and it is difficult to convey the precise meaning of concepts to their learners. Teachers’ challenges were also connected with the language policy that introduces English as a language of instruction for the first time to the learners in grade four. It was clear that learning in a new language of instruction is puzzling for grade four learners in South African public schools. It was recommended that the department of education needs to treat LoLT as a matter of emergency from the initial schooling years of learners. Policy designers need to find strategies of addressing a language that will stimulate the implementation of NSTECH. Increasing the NSTECH teaching periods, equipping classroom with a wide range of technological resources and employing teachers with a special knowledge of the subject matter might address the current and future challenges of EFAL learners, and thus improve the quality of teaching NSTECH to grade four second language English speaking learners in South Africa.