Original Research

Aspects of academic language proficiency of intermediate phase teacher education students

Dean van der Merwe
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 8, No 1 | a555 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v8i1.555 | © 2018 Dean Van der Merwe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 June 2017 | Published: 15 November 2018

About the author(s)

Dean van der Merwe, Department of Childhood Education, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: In the intermediate phase of schooling, learners’ academic success is largely dependent on their ability to read and write academic texts. Teachers need to teach academic language intentionally and explicitly. In order for teachers to do this, they themselves need knowledge of academic language and its features. Teacher education students, therefore need to be explicitly taught about academic language and provided with sufficient opportunities to develop their own proficiency.

Aim: This article aimed to explore the academic language proficiency of a cross-sectional sample of teacher education students at a Johannesburg university.

Setting: This study took place at a South African university that implements a university-accredited primary school teacher education qualification. The university is located in an urban area, but attracts students from both urban and rural contexts.

Methods: Students’ test scores on a core academic language skills instrument were utilised as data for this study, with descriptive and inferential statistical analyses procedures used to make sense thereof.

Results: Findings from a cross-sectional analysis between first- and second-year students’ scores indicated that students’ academic language proficiency does not appear to improve after their initial year of study.

Conclusion: The article concludes with a discussion of the implication hereof for teacher education and for the profession.


Intermediate phase teaching; academic language proficiency; core academic language skills


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