Intermediate phase educators' perceptions about the barriers to learning that occur in an ESL classroom
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The language in education scenario in South Africa is complicated one since learners’ language backgrounds are diversified and span the spectrum of all eleven official languages as well as other languages that are not official to our country. Many learners enter the learning environment with a multitude of barriers, and in this study language was reported by educators as the most common barrier to learning, especially for English Second Language (ESL) learners. A majority of these learners reside in homes where there is no facilitation of or exposure to the English language, yet these learners attend schools where the Language of Learning and Teaching (LOLT) is English. In many instances they are also taught by educators who themselves are not proficient in the English language and who indicated that they did not have the necessary skills to teach and support the Intermediate Phase ESL learner effectively. A notable finding of this study was that educators seemed not to comprehend the importance of mother language proficiency as an important foundation for acquiring and learning in a second language. Educators also emphasised the following factors as complicating the learning environment for ESL learners: large classroom numbers, an inflexible curriculum, insufficient support from the Department of Education, as well as a poor socio-economic environment. therefore it has been ascertained that the education of the ESL learner cannot be dealt with in isolation, but should rather be directed at addressing the plethora of barriers that the ESL learner is faced with, so as to ensure that a successful learning environment is provided.
- Education