Children in Tyume Valley grow up speaking Xhosa as their first language. They are introduced to English as a second language in primary school and their final school leaving (Matriculation) examinations are written in English. Fluency in reading, writing and understanding English is therefore essential to educational achievement, as well as later, on entering increasingly globalised labour market. However, teaching is often formal and traditional and this tends to be reflected in the district’s poor Matriculation results
In 2011, TVS began a programme of English Language training for primary school teachers (‘educators’) and children. With the help of experienced UK and South African teacher trainers, we have adapted standard English language teaching materials to local contexts. Along with their pupils, we introduce local teachers to innovative teaching methods in order to improve their skills and confidence in teaching English. Teachers are supported to put their learning into practice back in their own schools and eventually take on mentoring fellow teachers themselves. TVS funds transport for children from the participating schools to a central location, food for the children and small payments to teachers for their additional out of hours work.
In 2016 and 2017, 120 children and 11 teachers took part in TVS's English programme.
Children are assessed annually, using Cambridge Young Learners English Tests in Listening, Reading and Speaking. In spite of the mixed ability groups, overall results are generally very positive; each child receives a Certificate at the end of every year.
In 2016, we asked teachers involved in the English Language programme and some of their colleagues for feedback on the programme. All thought the programme benefitted the children, who learnt English faster and were more confident in writing and speaking in English.
"Educators see a great change from the way they learn. The learners also impress the others." (educator)Teachers themselves also felt more confident about teaching English; reported using new ways of teaching English in their schools; and were using their learning from the programme in teaching other subjects as well. Most also reported passing on learning from the programme to their colleagues.
"Educator has learned to be more patient with learners in their attempt to grasp the new language and her confidence is oozing" (principal/colleague)Click here for photos.