International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Concepts Learning Problems in English at Chosen South African Primary Schools
Lambani Matodzi Nancy, Mangena-Netshikweta Musundwa Lizzy

Learning through the use of English as a medium of instruction has always been difficult for most South African learners. In this study the researchers investigated the role of conceptual understanding in learning by Grade 5 (100) learners from five primary schools. The focus was on whether the learners at this level, where English is first introduced as a medium of instruction, understand the concepts or not in both the mother tongue (Tshivenda) and English. A questionnaire was used to elicit the responses of the pictures taken from the textbooks for the Health, Mathematics and Gardening subjects. The results for the health concepts revealed that the majority of the learners did not know a concept thermometer in their mother tongue and in English. Regarding the subject Mathematics, all the learners could not recode zero comma zero zero one in into English. In response the concepts for the Gardening subject, the majority of the learners could not identify vegetable in their mother tongue. The study found that the majority of the respondents lacked both conceptual awareness and adequate English proficiency to learn concepts in English. The study therefore, concludes that lack of conceptual understanding in learning impacts negatively on learning as reflected in poor Grade 12 examination results among, especially second language black learners from rural areas.

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