Factors affecting grade 8 learners’ performance in reading in english at a Cape Flats Secondary School
Petersen, Christa Titus
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In this mini-thesis, I explored the factors that affect grade 8 learners’ performance in reading in English.The study focused on reading as it was revealed by National Education Department and Western Cape Education Department that literacy and numeracy levels in schools in the Western Cape were poor. In addition, in March 1997, OBE was initiated in South Africa to develop a better educational system for all learners in schools and was perceived as a major step from the previous system (Botha, 2002). The system of OBE introduced the continuous assessment policies, which was a challenge for teachers already in the educational system. The study highlighted the theories of reading with particular emphasis on the evaluation of teaching of reading and assessment in the English classroom, learners’ home reading background and the influence of social practices and multiliteracies on learners’ reading proficiency. According to Alderson (2000) reading is perceived as a process of meaning- making with identification of different levels of meaning and understanding in and from text including reading skills. To elicit the factors that affect reading four variables were focused on during the study. The variables included reader, task, text and Social Practices and Multiliteracies variables, which interplayed in reading during tasks.In order to gather data the following data capturing methods were employed, firstly I highlighted the classroom observations to unpack the realities in classrooms for both the teacher and the learners. Then secondly I focused on the learners’ questionnaire to determine what happened during reading lessons and learners’ home reading practices. And thirdly I presented the teacher’s interview to highlight the reading strategies that she employed in class. Lastly I discussed the document analysis of grade 8 examination papers and classroom activities with a checklist. I discovered that the system of OBE put demands on teachers that they are not properly trained to do.Despite the fact that training was provided, it was too short and not clearly focused on interactive reading skills. When we consider the importance of multiliteracies, the teacher clearly draws on the learner’s home background by doing activities that make them feel that they are important. This teacher has the ability to successfully incorporate multimodal teaching methods in her class. The teacher also set time aside everyday to assess and mark the learners books, she then clarified issues that learners’ might encounter in the course of the reading lesson.However, there are some factors that could be addressed to improve reading abilities. The overcrowding and ghettoized condition of the class, did not promote morale within this environment. With the inception of OBE in-service training was provided, it was too short and not clearly focused on interactive reading skills. A further factor is learners’ use of Afrikaans during interactions with the teacher and each other,except for one learner who spoke English during the lesson.In conclusion, the evidence showed that the factors hat affect reading and therefore outcomes in education.