A comparative study of the use of isiXhosa and English as media of instruction in the teaching and learning of static electricity in Physical Sciences
This research focused on the use of isiXhosa and English in the teaching of static electricity in a grade 10 science class. This study took place in a rural school of the Queenstown district of the Eastern Cape. This sample for the study were learners that were coming from a background where English is less spoken compared to isiXhosa. They were learning all their school subjects in English as a second language and sometimes even a third language. With this study the researcher sought to establish how learners would achieve in static electricity - an area of the Physical sciences curriculum - when they are taught in isiXhosa compared to English as a medium of instruction. This study was motivated by the poor performance of learners in Physical Sciences. The researcher wanted to establish whether the use of a second language, English, as a medium of instruction when static electricity was taught at school has an influence on the acquisition of knowledge. The researcher took one grade 10 class of Physical Sciences that was not taught by the researcher as sample (whole population). The study found that learners who were taught in isiXhosa performed better in the study of static electricity. The study found out that engaging learners in their mother tongue enhances participation and facilitating learners' understanding of the natural phenomenon of lightning. They were contributing actively in lesson as they were allowed to interact in their mother- tongue. These leaners were able to bring forth their background and myths. This was shown by the participants' responses when they were asked about lightning strikes. They also projected their enthusiasm in their results, as they performed better than those learners who were taught in English. This study has implications for fellow science teachers who are struggling with teaching science in the English medium only as many learners fail not due to their limited knowledge but that they are unable to explain fully what they mean in the English language.