Original Research

Academic language proficiency of student teachers in a Namibian University

Frieda N. Shingenge
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 14, No 1 | a1411 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v14i1.1411 | © 2024 Frieda N. Shingenge | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 July 2023 | Published: 14 March 2024

About the author(s)

Frieda N. Shingenge, Department of Education, Faculty of Education and Human Sciences, University of Namibia, Ongwediva Department of Childhood Education, Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Although students in teacher education programmes in Namibia study through the medium of English, their academic language (AL) proficiency remains a challenge for most of them. In the Junior Primary Education programmes, they are not only required to master AL for their own studies, but they must also learn how to teach emergent academic AL in the primary school.

Aim: This study aimed to address this dual challenge, a practitioner research study was undertaken to assess and compare students’ AL proficiency skills in English cross sectionally in 2020.

Setting: The study was conducted online with (N = 78) student teachers at one of 12 campuses of the University of Namibia during the COVID-19 pandemic period.

Methods: A standardised test compiled by Uccelli et al. was administered to 78 randomly selected students to measure their core AL skills.

Results: The assessment results revealed distinct gaps in students’ AL proficiency. In addition, the findings demonstrated a statistically significant variance in assessment outcomes across different year groups.

Conclusion: The university, despite provision of several courses, has taken note that AL should ideally be integrated across the curriculum.

Contribution: The study revealed usable evidence about students’ AL proficiency, indicating patterns across cohorts.


core academic language skills; junior primary; pre-service teachers; integrated curriculum; core academic language skills-1 test

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education


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