There's a hippo on my stoep': constructions of English second language teaching and learners in the new national senior certificate

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Per Linguam: A Journal of Language Learning

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Stellenbosch University


University of Cape Town

The focus of this paper is an analysis of the conceptualisation of language teaching and the construction of learners in the new National Senior Certificate grade 12 curriculum and examinations taken by students for whom English is an additional language. The paper examines the values, attitudes and beliefs, as well as the required levels of cognitive engagement and notions of reading and writing. The authors argue that the curriculum represents a significant improvement on the previous version. However, there is a considerable mismatch between the Curriculum Statement and the examination papers. The curriculum emphasis on the role of language as a tool for critical, independent thinking is not evident in the examination papers, which reinforce traditional gender norms and essentialised notions of Africa. The examination papers are cognitively undemanding, requiring only the most basic understandings of texts. The authors argue that, by making it possible to pass at a very basic level, the examination system in effect obscures the contradiction that although the majority of learners have to use English as a first language across the curriculum, the language itself is taught as a second language.