What counts as preparation practices for English Across the Curriculum (EAC) among South African student teachers?

Nhlanhla Mpofu and Mncedisi C. Maphalala

Abstract

Teaching academic content through a language other than one’s first language poses many challenges for both teachers and English language learners (ELLs). In order to be successful across all areas of the high school curriculum, ELLs need to be familiar with subject-appropriate language and its use. In South Africa, English Across the Curriculum (EAC) is used as a strategy for scaffolding ELLs to improve their English language competence. Based on this EAC strategy, all teachers across the high school curriculum are critical in supporting the English language skills learners need in order for them to carry out tasks, activities and assessment in the various disciplines successfully. There is no doubt, then, that preparing student teachers during their initial teacher education (ITE) is a possible way of ensuring that they are ready for such a responsibility. Based on the theoretical insights drawn from reflective and transformative practice, the study explored how three South African universities prepared student teachers to embed English Language skills in content subject teaching across the high school curriculum. We collected data using nine focused group discussion sessions conducted with a total of 120 student teachers who we selected for the study using purposive sampling. From an inductive analysis of the data, the student teachers in this study explained that formal and intersubjective EAC preparation practices were used to develop their knowledge of EAC. The findings highlight that there is need for the intentional embedding of language and disciplinary preparation in the lTE curriculum, by creating a synergy of implicit and explicit learning activities that support student teachers’ implementation of English language in content subjects.

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