Language at a South African school is first and foremost studied because it is the primary means of thought and communication. However, English Home Language has “Learning Outcomes of a high, internationally-comparable standard.” (National Curriculum Statement – Languages). This means that a Home Language is much more than just a means of communicating and “as learners move through the grades, they are required to use language with increasing fluency, proficiency and accuracy… and… take greater responsibility for their own learning and apply their language skills in more challenging and complex ways.”
National Curriculum Statement – Outcomes for Home Language
In the course of their studies students should meet amongst others, the following requirements:
develop their language skills including abstract language skills required for academic learning
develop an aesthetic appreciation of texts and the ability to interact critically with them
use language appropriately in real-life contexts express and justify their own ideas/views in order to become independent and analytical thinkers use language and their imagination to represent and explore human experience (through interacting with a wide range of texts).
English Home Language is therefore not just a language study but is intended to develop the student’s thinking and reasoning abilities including the ability to present and follow logical arguments. The overall purpose of this is to prepare them for further academic pursuits i.e. university or college.
What does this mean for the student?
Regular and wide reading (12 books a year)
Vocabulary development every single day you have to learn at least ten new words
Writing well-constructed and effective sentences, paragraphs and essays
Expressing opinions based on personal reading and studying
Studying all aspects of language from textbooks and notes provided
Researching additional material from a variety of sources including the internet
Doing as many language related exercises as regularly as possible
Re-studying/learning any aspect of language that has not been learned properly in earlier years
Work that should be happening with relation to current studies?
Read and re-read set work texts
Summarise set works
Answer in-depth questions on set works
Analyse aspects of character, theme and plot and express reasoned opinions on them
Complete exercises/worksheets/tasks provided by teachers
Revise new material learned this year
Prepare for tests and exams
How to assess a student’s progress?
Gr 10: all the mechanics of language use should be in place (grammatical sentences; good grasp of language and literature fundamentals)
Gr 11: all the above plus a fairly well-developed ability to think critically and present logical arguments
Gr 12: all the above plus a superior level of language use (very few errors/substantial vocabulary); able to study texts largely independently and produce well-argued and supported opinions on all aspects of any text being studied