Original Research

Improving higher-order comprehension skills of Grade 3 learners in a second language at a quintile 2 school, in Cape Town, South Africa

Vuyokazi Fatyela, Janet Condy, Lawrence Meda, Heather Phillips
Reading & Writing | Vol 12, No 1 | a312 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v12i1.312 | © 2021 Vuyokazi Fatyela, Janet Condy, Lawrence Meda, Heather Phillips | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 March 2021 | Published: 14 September 2021

About the author(s)

Vuyokazi Fatyela, Department of Literacy Research Unit, Faculty of Education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa
Janet Condy, Department of Literacy Research Unit, Faculty of Education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa
Lawrence Meda, Research Department, Faculty of Education, Zayed University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Heather Phillips, Research Department, Faculty of Education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Developing higher-order comprehension skills of learners in primary schools is a challenge that faces many countries. South Africa is no exception. Primary school learners in South Africa have particularly low literacy and comprehension skills: many learners struggle to read for understanding. There is little published scholarship that focuses on developing the comprehension skills of Grade 3 learners in a second language. A lack of practical classroom knowledge in this area is what this article seeks to address.

Objectives: To improve the higher-order comprehension skills of Grade 3 learners in a second language.

Method: A qualitative approach, using a case study design, within an interpretivist paradigm was devised and deployed. Five struggling Grade 3 learners were purposively selected to participate in an intervention programme. Their parents or guardians and two current Grade 3 teachers were interviewed. Data were collected over a 10-week intervention programme. The first and last weeks were devoted to pre-testing and post-testing. The entire intervention lasted for 10 weeks.

Results: All the five Grade 3 learners showed significant improvements in their comprehension skills when comparing their pre-test and post-test scores.

Conclusion: The post-test scores revealed the importance of a structured intervention programme for improving the four comprehension skills highlighted. Mediation and scaffolding in the Zone of Proximal Development were employed while concurrently developing their cognitive, social and language skills.


Keywords

critical thinking; curriculum; Foundation Phase; higher-order thinking skills; Home Language

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