Original Research

Contextual variations and pedagogy in the teaching of first additional languages in Grade 1: A multicase study

Jabulile Mzimela
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 12, No 1 | a1000 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v12i1.1000 | © 2022 Jabulile Mzimela | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 March 2021 | Published: 26 August 2022

About the author(s)

Jabulile Mzimela, Department of Early Childhood Education, Faculty of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Ashwood, South Africa


Background: The South African curriculum policy mandates the introduction of the first additional languages (FALs) teaching in Grade 1. Research on FAL teaching has been on the agenda in South Africa for more than a decade now. Several interventions in response to systemic findings have been made, yet little success is noted in terms of the advancement of FAL teaching in the foundation phase to a sustainable degree. Thus, there is a need for ongoing research in this focus area to enrich scholarly debates and the practice of FAL teaching with new insights.

Aim: This paper seeks to further these debates through its attempt to explore and present findings on whether the contextual variations in which schools are located have any influence on Grade 1 FAL teachers’ pedagogical practices.

Setting: The study was conducted in three geographically different Grade 1 classroom contexts, namely, urban, peri-urban and rural.

Methods: This is an interpretivism qualitative small-scale multi-case study involving three Grade 1 teachers who taught FAL in three geographically different schools. Data were generated through semi-structured interviews, observations and post-observation interviews. Thematic data analysis was applied, and the results are presented as collated essential findings.

Results: Findings revealed variances in the way teachers taught FAL. These variances were linked to their pedagogical practices as influenced by spatial variation, learners’ exposure to second sites of FAL learning, to name a few.

Conclusion: The study calls for teachers to be courageous in developing innovative FAL teaching approaches, thereby influencing curriculum policy on how FAL may be taught in Grade 1 classrooms in different geographical contexts.


first additional language teaching; geographical context; Grade 1; pedagogical practices; school categorisation


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