Storytelling for early literacy development in isiXhosa: a case study of a grad one class in the Western Cape
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Early literacy development forms the basis of learning as it equips young learners with reading skills which help them to unlock the code of written texts across the curriculum. Literacy components include listening, oral, writing, spelling, sentence construction, reading and comprehension. Literacy in the learners’ home languages forms a strong foundation for learning. Story-telling is one of the approaches to literacy development. It may involve traditional folktales which can be used to enhance learners’ literacy skills through listening, speech and writing. Traditional folktales form part of traditional literature that is disseminated largely through oral communication and behavioural examples. They connect to the past, although they reflect the present socio-cultural and educational activities which encourage children’s critical, problem solving and decision-making skills. The study investigated how storytelling was used to teach literacy to Grade one learners. It also determined how traditional isiXhosa folktales were incorporated in literacy lessons and how teachers utilized them in developing learners’ literacy through listening, speaking, reading and writing. The Social constructivism theory has been used as a lens to understand how storytelling supports learner’s literacy development, and their socialisation in the society. The study was conducted in one primary school in the Western Cape where isiXhosa was used as a medium of instruction in the Foundation Phase. It focussed on Grade one to explore the use of storytelling for literacy development in IsiXhosa. It followed a qualitative research approach which involved classroom observations, semi-structured interviews and document analysis. The findings of the study reveal that teachers acknowledged the value of folktales as part of storytelling as a learner-centred approach that enhances early literacy development. However, there were constraints regarding the lack of appropriate literacy resources in IsiXhosa and the exclusion of traditional stories in the formal curriculum. The study concludes that storytelling is one of the powerful learner-centred approaches for literacy development and that parental support should be strengthened to build the relationship between the school and the community as a means of maintaining learners’ culture and identity.