The use of poems in die teaching of Afrikaans as additional language

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This article reports on a literary study and a lesson plan on the use of poems in a language acquisition class. It forms part of a project and broader study on the use of literature as a teaching resource and as a teaching methodology for Afrikaans language acquisition (Adendorff 2014a). This follow-up study focuses on using poems in task-based learning activities as a successful and interactive approach in language acquisition classes.

One of the aspects that has not received much attention in the task-based approach to the teaching and learning of a second language is the use of literature, more specifically the use of poetry. Khatib, Derakhshan and Rezaei (2011:213) claim that the use of literature is not received enthusiastically in second-language classrooms because literature is seen as too complex for second-language learners and therefore as disadvantageous for the process of language acquisition. According to Pardede (2011:14) recent trends show the necessity to integrate second-language teaching and literature because of the rich content and examples of authentic materials which can be found in literature. Khatib et al. (2011:216) are of the opinion that task-based teaching can encourage teachers to use more literature in their classrooms. Carter and Long (1991) give a summary of the positive uses of literature: it reflects real-world experiences, situations and social relationships.

This article starts with an overview of the use of poetry in the teaching of an additional language. Yavuz (2010:68) discusses three models used for teaching: the cultural model, the language model and the personal growth model. The cultural model enables students to understand and appreciate different cultures and ideologies through poetry. The language model can be a useful tool for the teaching of specific language skills, vocabulary or structures, while the personal growth model helps students to engage with poems mainly for enjoyment and to foster an appreciation for poetry. Another important study is the one Mittal (2014) undertook. She motivates the use of poetry in language acquisition classes mainly in order to help with the teaching and learning of grammar. Gardihewa’s (2016:350) research question was: “Would poetry be an effective source in second language learning and teaching?” which is similar to the one for this article.

The article then focuses on the question whether poems can be useful in the task-based approach. The task-based approach is a pedagogic framework for teaching and researching additional languages. For this article I used Willis’s (1996) framework for class methodology. Three stages (pre-task, task cycle and post-task) form the framework of task-based language teaching. The pre-task stage involves the introduction of the topic and the task to the learners and the teacher either introduces the new vocabulary or revises the old vocabulary. The task cycle is the stage in which the learners perform the task in small groups or in pairs. This stage consists of three different phases: task, planning and reporting. The teacher monitors the learners only while the focus is on fluency and not accuracy. Willis and Willis (2001:178) call the post-task stage “language focus” and analyse it under two different names: language focus and language practice. In the language focus stage the learners try to understand the use of the language, whereas in the language practice stage learners have to engage in a wide variety of different exercises for the purpose of strengthening their understanding of the language.

A short overview of several studies undertaken on the use of poetry in the task-based approach follows.

Shaitan (2010) undertakes a poem-based lesson. After having reviewed the reflection papers written by the students, Shaitan (2010) is of the opinion that including poetry and literature in the curriculum could be effective for the students’ second-language oral proficiency. He realised that using a stylistic approach and managing the sequence of tasks throughout the lesson helped students to develop “the feeling for language” through the negotiation of tasks. The aim of Yavuz’s study (2010) was to improve the learners’ comprehension by using interactive task-based activities. Bloemendal (2014) combined content and language integrated teaching with the task-based approach. He concluded that this combination proved valuable in second-language acquisition classes because both the language skills and language competencies of the students improved when using the task-based methodology. Prinsloo (2017) undertook a small-scale empirical study. The results of this study supported her literature review: poems are a useful resource to use in language acquisition classrooms.

The National Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) is then briefly summarised in this article. It contextualises the study because a task-based lesson plan for an Afrikaans poem for grade 10–12 learners follows. I used the poem “katie melua” by Cas Vos as an example to illustrate an integrated task-based lesson plan. I chose the poem because the theme is one with which the learners can easily identify; it is accessible and relatively easy for learners; it lends itself to a variety of ways it can be used in class and it is about a well-known singer. The article ends with suggestions on how to use poems in the language acquisition classroom.

Keywords: Afrikaans as an additional language; language acquisition; National Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS); poems; task-based approach

Lees die volledige artikel in Afrikaans

Die gebruik van gedigte in die onderrig van Afrikaans as addisionele taal

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