Learning in an additional language in a multilingual society: A South African case study on university-level writing

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19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article reports on an exploratory qualitative study on 37 students' acquisition of language and literacy. The study closely analyzes a linguistics assignment written in English, the dominant language, given to students at University of the Western Cape belonging to groups speaking English, Afrikaans, or an African language. The study demonstrated that a variety of aspects of a student's learning biography influence her written performance. Proficiency in the dominant language is a necessary but not sufficient condition for successful written performance. The way the dominant language is taught and acquired interacts with various sociocultural and economic factors, to produce a student's full learning experience. Much of this interaction is traceable in the kinds of essays students produce. The article cautions against attributing significance solely to proficiency in the dominant language and against treating all members of the group of students for whom the dominant language is an additional language in the same way. A more important factor to consider is the students' differing degrees of familiarity with academic discourse, which is influenced by the students' socioeducational background.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-681
Number of pages21
JournalTESOL Quarterly
Volume39
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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