The facilitative role of
adults in the language
development of Afrikaans
and Sesotho-speaking
preschool children
Prof JJE Messerschmidt, Ms JCF Venter, Mrs MJ Ramabenyane, Dr CM Vorster
Department Curriculum Studies
School of Education
University of the Free State
E-mail: [email protected]
INTRODUCTION
The cultural diversity of the
Republic of South Africa
is reflected in:
11 Official Languages
Sesotho
Afrikaans
Differences:
• in grammatical structure
• in social and cultural environments
Family home forms the first language environment for a child
and the interaction between children and adults in early
language development is stressed
INTRODUCTION (continue)

A Comparison of language acquisition of
Afrikaans- and Sesotho-speaking children
between the age of 18 months and 3
years.

To describe the facilitative role of adults in
the language development of Afrikaansand Sesotho-speaking learners against
the background of Vygotsky’s theory on
language development.
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Vygotsky’s
theory on
language
development
and the Zone
of
Proximal
Development
Role of
adults
in the
language
development
of children
from different
cultural groups
VYGOTSY’S THEORY ON LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT AND THE
ZONE OF PROXIMAL DEVELOPMENT
Role of the adult
Social contact :
primary function of
Speech
Verbal interaction
concept formation
SOCIAL-INTERACTIVE BASES OF LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
AND SCAFFOLDING MODEL
THE ZONE OF PROXIMAL DEVELOPMENT
THE ROLE OF THE ADULTS IN THE LANGUAGE
DEVELOPMENT OF CHILDREN FROM DIFFERENT
CULTURAL GROUPS







Adults serve as language models
Communication with children
Roles of different adults
Piagetian cognitive-developmental view – guides
and set the stage for learning.
Vygotsky-based cognitive-developmental view more prominent and directive
Provide scaffolding experiences
Give and take conversation –critical factor
TABLE 1: RECORDINGS OF
INTERACTIONS
Child
A
B
H
W
L
R
Age
2;2
2;1
2;4
2;0
1;7
1;6
2;5
2;2
2;5
2;1/2
1;10
1;9
2;1
2;0
2;0
2;1
RESEARCH DESIGN
Main Aim
To determine the role of adults in the language
development of Afrikaans- and Sesotho-speaking
preschool children.
Research questions
•
•
•
•
What role do adults play in the interaction with the
children?
Are the adults scaffolding / facilitating language
learning and how?
Do the participating adults aim at raising the level
of development of the children and how?
What are the similarities and differences in the
social context and the roles of the participating
adults of the two language groups?
DATA COLLECTION METHODS AND
PROCEDURES

Demarcation of the study and selection of target group:
six children of ages ranging from
18months and 28 months
four Afrikaans-speaking children and
two Sesotho-speaking children
video-recordings: every week of 30 min
video-recordings transcribed and
analysed (inductive)
no categories, but let data speak for itself
RESULTS OF THE STUDY

Social environment

The interaction and
facilitative role of the adults
- setting the framework
- extending paradigms,
vocabulary and
sentences
- scaffolding cohesion
- learner-centred
facilitating style
Interviews with the mothers

INITIATING CONVERSATION BY MEANS OF TUTORIAL
”QUESTIONS “WHERE?”
SCENARIO 1: L(1;7)
Mother: Papa o kae? (Where is daddy?)
Child L: A yo. (He is not here.)
Mother: O ile kae? (Where has he gone
to?)
Child L: Le kae? (Gone to?)
Mother: Ee. Mama yena o kae?
(Yes, Where is Mummy?)
[L1:12-16]
SCAFFOLDING FUTURE TENSE SCENARIO 2:
L(1,7)
Mother: Ere "Karabo o a tla ka mosho." (Say
"Karabo is coming tomorrow.)
Child L: Arabo o te to.
[L1:108-109]
INITIATING CONVERSATION BY MEANS OF “TUTORIAL”
QUESTIONS “MANG”. SCAFFOLDING THE VALUE OF
APPRECIATION SCENARIO 3; L (2,0)
Researcher: Oo ke mang? (Who is this one?)
Child L:
Portia.
Researcher: Ke mme wa mang? (Whose mother is Portia?)
Child L:
Ee (Yes).
[Researcher gives L fruit]
Mother:
E re "tanki" (Say "thank you").
Child L:
Anki. E a hlala. (Thanks. I am playing).
Mother:
A re bale he. (Let us read).
Researcher: O bapala le mang? (Who are you playing with?)
Child L:
Nana (Baby).
[L3:17-28]
SCAFFOLDING LINGUISTIC FORM
SCENARIO 4; L(2;0)
Mother:
Child L:
Mother:
Child L:
Mother:
Child L:
Mother:
Child L:
O ile kae? (Where has she gone to?)
A tlung (In the house).
Ka tlung? (In the house?)
Ee (Yes).
O kae Busi? (Where is Busi?)
O ile kolong (She has gone to school).
Sekolong (School).
Ee (Yes).
[L3:41-48]
Mother:
Child L:
Mother:
Child L:
Mother:
Child L:
Kibi o kae? (Where is Kibi?)
A yo (He is not around).
O ile kae? (Where has he gone to?)
Etse (Asleep).
O robetse? (Is he asleep?)
Ee (Yes).
[L3:66-71]
HIGHLIGHTING THE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN AFRIKAANS AND
SESOTHO-SPEAKING CHILDREN IN INITIATING CONVERSATIONS
STARTING WITH THE TUTORIAL QUESTIONS SCENARIO 5: B(2,1)
[The father sits with the computer on his lap and show photo's. The mother takes the videorecording.]
Father: Wie’s daai? (Who's that?)
Child B: Lelia.
Father: Wat doen Celia? (What is Celia doing?)
Child B: Hmmm … B
Mother: Speel sy met B? (Is she playing with B?)
Father: Celia hou vir B vas. Wie’s daai? (Celia is holding B. Who's that?)
Child B: B tit (sit). (B tits).
Father: B wat? (B what?)
Child B: B … eh ..tyn (tuin). (B ... eh garden).
Father: B sit in die tuin. Dis reg. En daai, wat’s daai wat daar spuit?
(B sits in the garden. That's right. And that, what's that that there?)
Child B: Pyt (spuit). (spray )
[B1:56-66]
[Later the child repeatly says "torietjie", meaning "storietjie" (story). The father does not
understand and continues with questions on the photo's. The mother interprets the child
correctly.]
Mother: Storietjie ... Wil jy 'n storietjie hoor? (Story ... Do you want to hear a story?) [B1:72]
Mother: [takes place next to the child on the coach.] Daarsy! Kom ons kyk 'n bietjie wat's hier
in! (There we are! Let us look what in here).
[She opens the book and starts with tutorial questions]
[B1:89]
EXTENDING VOCABULARY AND SENTENCES
SCENARIO 6: B(2;2)
[Mother and child are talking about the moon and stars in a book.]
Child B: Hm. [looks up]: Wa(ar) sterretjie? (Where star?)
Mother: Sterretjies is net in die aand. In die aand dan kan
jy die sterretjies en die maan sien. (Stars are only
at night. At night, then you can see the stars and
the moon). Hoor daar! Wat is dit? Wat maak so?
(Listen! What is that?)
Child B: Plane.
Mother: Is dit 'n plane? Dis 'n vliegtuig ja! (Is it a "plane"?
It's a plane (in Afrikaans), yes).
Child B: Vliegtuig maak. (Plane makes).
Mother: 'n Vliegtuig maak so. (A plane makes like
this)
.Child B: [Makes noises].
Mother: Ja, hy dreun! Hoor hoe dreun hy. .......(Yes, it
rumbles! Listen how it rumbles).
[B2:450-457]
FACILITATING THE CONSTRUCTION OF A RELATIVE CLAUSE
SCENARIO 7: W(2:1/2)
Mother: Dis mooi né! (It's nice, he!)
Child W: Ja. Dis Tannie Betsie se rooi kar (Yes. It’s Aunty Betsie's red
car).
Mother: Wat daar ry. Hy ry vinnig (That drives over there. It drives
quickly).
Child W: Dis Tannie Bes wat da ry. ....(It's
Aunty Bess's car that drives over there).
[W2:86-89]
SCAFFOLDING COHESION “ADVERBS”
SCENARIO 8:H(2;4)
[The theme is being naughty. Child H identifies a naughty boy at the play group.]
Father:
Child H:
Father:
Child H:
Child H:
Child H:
Father:
JP. Wat het hy gedoen vandag? (JP. What did he do today?)
Hy't my ogies geslaan. (He hit my eyes).
Het hy jou ogies geslaan? (Did he hit your eyes?)
Hm.Father: En toe? Toe huil jy? (And then? Did you cry?)
Hm.Father: Het jy? (Did you?)
Ek het eina gekry. (I was hurt).
Het jy eina gekry? En toe? Wat het Lida
gemaak? (Were you hurt? And then? What did Lida do?)
Child H: Toe het Lida met hom gehaas (geraas). (Then Lida scolded at him).
[H1:155-164]
A LEARNER-CENTRED FACILITATING STYLE (1)
THE MOTHER PUTS CHALLENGES AND ENCOURAGES
PROBLEM-SOLVING SCENARIO 9: H(2;5)
Child H: Mamma.
Mother: Ja.
Child H: Sê vir my wat doen ek met my kama (kamera). (Tell me
what am I doing with my camera).
Mother: H, wat doen jy met jou kamera? (H, what are you doing with your
camera?)
Child H: Sit hom hie innie boojtjie se hm ... in sy ... sy plek in. (Putting it in the
drill's hm ... in its ... its place in).
Mother: Sit hom waar? (Putting it where?)
Child H: Hieso in. (In here).
Mother: Op ‘n plek? (In a place?)
Child H: Hierie plekkie. (This place).
Mother: Ek sien. Ai! Ai! (I see. Ai! Ai!)
[H2:107-114]
Later in the dialogue:
[Child puts drill in toolbox]
A LEARNER-CENTRED FACILITATING
STYLE (2)
Mother: Daarsy! Pas hy in? (There he is! Does it fit?)
Child H: Hm.
Mother: Joe-joe-joe! Is jy bly? (Joe-joe-joe! Are you happy?)
Child H: [Want to close the toolbox]. Hy makie nog toe nie (It does
not close again).
Mother: Uh-uh. Kan hy nie toemaak nie? (Uh-uh. Can't it not close?)
Child H: Uh. Hielie ... hierie ding kannie toemakie. (Uh. This ... this
thing cannot close).
Mother: Hoekom nie? (Why not?)
Child H: Somme nie. (Because).
Mother: Dink jy die boortjie is te groot? (Do you think the drill is too
big?)
Child H: Ja. (Yes).
Mother: Hm. Mamma sien ook so. (Yes. Mommy also sees).
[H2:154-165]
DISCUSSION AND INTERPRETATION OF THE
RESULTS AND FINDINGS OF THE STUDY
RESEARCH QUESTION 1

Parents play an important role in the interaction with the
children by:




Encouraging language production
Inviting children to do things together
Allowing children to take the initiative
Making requests for action
DISCUSSION AND INTERPRETATION OF
RESULTS (CONTINUE)
RESEARCH QUESTION 2

Adults, especially mothers and some of the Afrikaans fathers were
raising the level of language development by:






Extending the paradigm of wh-questions’
Expanding utterances of children as examples of a higher level of
language development,
Scaffolding for cohesion with adverbs especially with the older children,
Encouraging problem-solving by means of learner-centred style
Using repetition
While mothers were seen as real facilitators, other adults seemed to
spoil the developmental patterns,
DISCUSSION AND INTERPRETATION OF
RESULTS (continue)
RESEARCH QUESTION 3






The facilitative role of the mothers was similar in many respects.
This may be a manifestation of a universal subconscious ability of
mothers and caretakers to adapt their speech when communicating with
pre-school children.
Some of the differences in scaffolding were noted, were probably due to
the fact that Afrikaans children were a little older at the time the
transcriptions were taken.
It seems that in the Sesotho culture adults and children were talking
mainly about people (and not about things)
Iin the Afrikaans environment books are highly valued in facilitating
language development.
The Sesotho environment seems to lag in this respect. It seems as if
the television has taken over from the old tradition of story telling.
INTERVIEWS WITH THE MOTHERS (1)








All mothers agree that they play important roles in the
language development of their children,
Three of the mothers say that they help with
pronunciation.
All mothers believe that they teach vocabulary
Mother A views books as part of the environment
Mother B explicitly mentions that mothers or caretakers
should be an example for the children
She also mentions that her child uses the words he hears
from the stories read to him by the caretaker
Mother C mentions books, magazines and TV
programmes
Mother D mentioned toys and cell-phones as aids in
language development
INTERVIEWS WITH THE MOTHERS (2)
AFRIKAANS
MOTHERS
(A&B)




Usually first to
communicate with their
children
Consider interaction very
important
Reading is also
considered very important


SOTHO
MOTHERS
(C & D)
Refer to the roles of
others in the
community
Usually encourage their
children to speak up
Take their children to
places like shops and
church to encourage
language development


Afrikaans mothers view books as part of the
environment
Sotho mothers emphasize significance of other
community members
RECOMMENDATIONS

Caretakers of preschool children should take cognizance of the
important facilitative role adults play in the language development of
children.

They should take an example of the scaffolding done by mothers in a
close relationship with their children.

They should create an environment conducive to language
development where the use of books should have a place. This is
more significant in the Sesotho environment where the lack of books is
a concern.

Caretakers as well as teachers in multicultural situations should be
aware of cultural differences and adapt their interaction to incorporate
appropriate scaffolding in order to maximise cognitive and language
development.
CONCLUSION





Description of the facilitative role of adults in the
language development of some Afrikaans and Sesotho
children.
Mothers and some fathers aimed at raising the level of
language development and operate in zones of proximal
development.
This scaffolding is an ongoing process and levels are
raised on a continuous and progressive basis.
Similarities between the cultural groups are proof of the
universality of the phenomenon.
Differences in the environment and interaction style of
the cultural groups also come to the fore.
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