The feedback practices of intermediate phase English Home Language teachers to encourage self-regulated learning in the Ennerdale region
Manuel, Jasmien Christine
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In South Africa, the majority of learners are being taught in English (the language of teaching and learning in many schools), which is not their mother tongue. Learners come from different language and cultural backgrounds and are only exposed to English when they start their first year of schooling. Learners take English as Home Language, a first language subject, even though they are not native speakers. According to the notions of Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency, learners acquire conversational fluency in English within about 2 years and they generally take 5 – 10 years to develop academically in English. During teaching and learning, learners experience a variety of language challenges and therefore, teachers need to assist learners to overcome these challenges by providing sufficient and effective feedback. Through the provision of feedback, teachers can allow learners to reflect on mistakes, work towards improving their learning, and as a result, become self-regulated learners. Good feedback practice strengthens a learners’ ability to self-regulate their performance and prepares them for learning throughout life. Therefore, the role of the teacher when providing feedback is of vital importance in order to encourage self-regulated learning in learners. The purpose of this study was to understand the feedback practices of intermediate phase English Home Language teachers to encourage self-regulated learning in the Ennerdale region. For the purpose of this study, self-regulated learning was observed through the lens of social cognitive theory. Feedback as an important part of assessment, the value of feedback in teaching and learning, characteristics of feedback, types of feedback, feedback from a sociocultural perspective, Pintrich’s (2000) framework of self-regulated learning, how feedback can encourage self-regulated learning, and the self-regulated learning model of Zimmerman and Moylan (2009) formed the theoretical framework of this study. There are three phases in Zimmerman and Moylan’s (2009) model, namely the forethought, volitional, and self-reflection phases. Each of the three phases involves processes and sub-processes representing the skills self-regulated learners need to demonstrate when they receive feedback. In addition, this study provided a discussion on the changing roles of English in South Africa’s different curricula, and the role of English in the current South African curriculum. Furthermore, this study outlined Second Language Acquisition (SLA) theories which includes Cummins’ theory of SLA, the Social-Cultural Theory, Krashen’s theory of SLA and the Interaction Approach. This was done in order to bring an understanding of what Second Language Acquisition entails and to find a link between SLA and SRL theories. The empirical study was approached by means of a qualitative research design in the form of an instrumental case study. Observations and individual, semi-structured interviews were used to collect data from 15 purposively selected teachers from five different schools in the Ennerdale region. Fifteen English Home Language teachers participated in the study. The research findings show that learners’ proficiency levels vary from good to poor. The language proficiency levels of learners are influenced by factors such as levels of income, housing, employment, education, cultural and language backgrounds, as well as the standard of living. Due to the different language proficiency levels of learners, participants perceive certain challenges when providing feedback. Examples of these challenges are the influences of other languages on English; the parents of learners being unable to assist them because they themselves are not proficient in English; learners having limited vocabulary; learners having an inability to complete work; learners that are overly dependent on teachers; learners struggling to reason and motivate answers; teachers not having time for follow-up questions to consolidate and repeat work; learners that cannot read and write as their foundation was not laid properly; and no or limited resources to use when teaching and learning takes place. Most of the participants have not received training in order to encourage learners to become self-regulated, therefore, they are still engaging in traditional transmission teaching approaches that do not always foster self-regulated learning. The findings show inconsistencies between participants’ perceptions of self-regulated learning as seen in the interview data, and their observed teaching approaches to encourage self-regulated learning. The participants perceive themselves to encourage self-regulated learning skills through feedback. However, the findings of the lesson observations indicated that most of the participants encouraged only strategic planning; motivation and self-efficacy beliefs; task value and interest; task strategies; imagery; time management; help-seeking; self-evaluation; self-satisfaction; and self-recording. Recommendations are made to assist schools and teachers to improve the encouragement of SRL skills to enhance learners’ academic achievements.
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