Foundation Phase Reading and the Transition into English in Grade 4: Teacher Experiences and Perceptions

Posted on April 30, 2019

Ms Nomahlubi Sitsha received her Masters’ degree in Assessment and Quality Assurance in Education and Training at the Faculty of Education’s autumn graduation ceremony held at the Hillcrest campus on the 16 of April 2019.  Her Master’s dissertation entitled “Foundation phase reading and the transition into English in Grade 4: Teacher experiences and perceptions” dealt with the perceptions and experiences of foundation phase and grade 4 teachers who teach English to learners whose mother tongue is not English. Nomahlubi deeply valued the guidance she received from her supervisors, Dr Surette van  Staden (Director of the Centre for Evaluation and Assessment) and Dr Celeste Combrinck from the Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Department when conducting her research which focused on the teachers’ perceptions and experiences when learners transition from learning in a home language – particularly an African language – into learning in English from Grade 4.

Research questions that guided Nomahlubi’s research aimed at investigating Grade 4 learners’ experiences in the transition from learning in their mother-tongue to English in Grade 4, secondly foundation Phase teachers’ perceptions and attitudes towards teaching English reading. The research questions also investigated the extent to which teachers view intervention programmes as adequately addressing language problems, with implications for the language in education policy for teacher practice in classrooms.

Reflecting on her journey, Nomahlubi said “…Starting my Masters’ journey was a truly exciting experience, how difficult could it be to do research and write up a few chapters. Never have I experienced such writers block, never have I cried so much and never ever have I wanted to quit something so badly”. For some or other reason, I felt as though my supervisor owed me some friendship, understanding, empathy perhaps? However, with each meeting we had I realised the true definition of tough love in the most academic sense”.

Nomahlubi reflects further on her journey, “I remember considering changing my study to investigating the effects academic relationships between Masters students and their supervisors have on the students’ success or failure”. After two years of ups and downs, good and terrible writing spells, my supervisors encouraged me to try one more time. And for that, I will forever be grateful. I then realised that they had my best interest and success at heart. I realised that I needed a change of attitude because my supervisors didn’t in fact owe me anything except supervision.”

Appreciating her supervisors’ patience, Noma said “I couldn’t have chosen better supervisors for my Masters Journey, it was a true honour. I am grateful that they didn’t give up on me.”

Published by Thabo Masenamela

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