Everyone can read better

President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasised the importance of ensuring that all South African children learn to read during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 20 June.

Sharing President Ramaphosa’s vision, Lectorsa has taken the lead and launched their #YesIcan Literacy campaign at the beginning of the year. The Lectorsa team is determined to work with all interested schools, businesses and NGO’s to use more than thirty years of research to improve literacy skills in South African schools and boost educational outcomes. The aim is to equip South Africa’s young people affectively with the right skillsets, to grow with an ever-changing world.

LAB-on-line data refers to more than 95 000 individual profiles (mostly ESLS across South Africa) that demonstrate how to not only improve reading and visual literacy, but also cognitive abilities for users from the first year of schooling through to management levels.

 In 2018, one of the groups they empowered, Grade 4 learners, improved their reading skills to a Grade 7 level, measured to international norms and standards.

Director of Lectorsa, Minda Marshall said, “These learners, also mostly English Second Language Students (ESLS) exceeded the expected outcomes and gave us great hope for what can be achieved with the right type of intervention.”

Indeed, the debate concerning at what age students should start the language of instruction as English and not mother tongue has been raging for several years. Important aspects that deserve our attention in this area are:

  • Mother tongue instruction in reading is important[i]
  • “Instruction in English from as early as possible is the best way to become fluent in English.” As indicated by the latest cognitive research “If you want to have native-like knowledge of English grammar, you should start from up to 10 years old.”[ii]
  • The current implementation preference in most South African public schools, which is the option to use mother-tongue instruction as opposed to English instruction in grades one, two and three, generally leads to better English learning in the long run.[iii]
  • We need to ensure that the best practices to improve and develop reading skills are accessible to all our South African learners.

How can you do your part?

PARENTS

  • Parents should read to their young children-  preferably beautiful stories in their home language.
  • Children in Grade 1, 2 and 3 should read to their parents from their school workbooks.
  • Parents should ensure that there are books available at home.

SCHOOLS and other organisations

  • Schools must take up the responsibility to ensure that accurate strategies for literacy intervention and development are deployed at ALL levels.
  • TVET colleges and universities should empower all their students with the necessary skill sets to be able to interact effectively with the information they have to study.
  • Colleges and universities should ensure access to the best training courses available for teachers, facilitators and parents.
  • Government and private sector should work together to ensure that more libraries in our communities are established giving learners access to books.
  • Companies and individuals can sponsor students, schools and NPO’s with the implementation of a system like LAB-on-line (contact us at office@lectorsa.com for more information)

“At Lectorsa, we have a proven strategy. In the schools where we have implemented our solution, educational outcomes improved, learners’ self-confidence increased and growth was evident. We are ready to do our part in ensuring the next ten years see a major change in literacy levels in our nation.”

Excited about the future, Marshall said, “Transforming South Africa is possible.  Together we can make a real and sustainable difference. Join our movement – #yesican literacy campaign and be part of the solution.”

Zoom In interactive content now available through Snapplify

An exclusive partnership between leading local educational publisher, Oxford University Press South Africa, and global edtech company, Snapplify, has made the publisher’s interactive content series, Zoom In, easily available to thousands of learners. Both Snapplify and Oxford University Press are members of ADESSA and it is great to see strong partnerships between its members.

Covering the major South African subjects for Grades 10–12, in both English and Afrikaans, the Zoom In interactive products are designed to help learners tackle tough exam concepts, giving them the confidence to conquer all their exam questions. Interactive resources are integrated throughout, providing opportunities for self-assessment, as well as increased engagement, leading to deeper understanding of the subject matter.

For those signed up to Snapplify’s e-learning platform, Engage, free samples are downloadable, with all additional content available to check out via the digital library. The full series is also available to purchase by individual learners (through Engage or Snapplify’s online store), or in bulk via a school-wide licence.

‘Snapplify is committed to improving access to quality digital educational content, so we’re especially pleased to be distributing the Zoom In series, which really takes digital study to the next level. Using a range of interactive features, such as simulations, animations, games and activities with immediate feedback, videos, and more, Zoom In truly provides learners with the opportunity to get to grips with key concepts in the curriculum,’ said Snapplify’s Operations Director, Mark Seabrook.

The launch of the series comes at an exciting time, following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that all public schools will adopt digital education over the next six years – a project in which Snapplify and other stakeholders have been actively involved.

Email education@snapplify.com to chat about your specific needs and how we can work together.

A non-threatening way for learners with ASD to practice their communication and social skills

Milo the robot is designed to be interesting and approachable for learners with ASD. He can walk, talk and even model human facial expressions. Milo never gets frustrated or tired. He consistently delivers lessons in a way that learners with ASD respond to. This recurring positive experience creates an environment in which learners can learn and thrive. Robots4Autism helps learners improve their social and behavioral skills and gain the confidence they need to succeed academically and socially.

Milo – the robot.

For further information, contact Edit Microsystems, the distributors of Milo: 021 433-2520 | elviera@editmicro.co.za 

The curriculum support that dictionaries provide

The following article has been contributed by Oxford University Press South Africa (a member of ADESSA).

We’ve come a long way since the first historical dictionary for general use, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), was published more than 90 years ago. Before that, dictionaries were often no more than word lists covering a certain subject and representing a limited pool of speakers, for instance speakers of British English in a specific academic field. As such, many early dictionaries were bilingual (two languages) and served the need to translate words from one language to another, for example when translating scientific texts from Latin to English.

The monolingual (one language) OED’s mission was to present a snapshot of the English language throughout history, and in fulfilling that mission it has accumulated more than 600 000 words used in many world Englishes (English as it is spoken in different geographical locations on the planet), going back 1000 years. It gives the meaning, spelling and pronunciation of each of these words and traces their history through some 3 million quotations.

The dictionaries of today are more than tools for checking meaning, spelling and pronunciation, however. They can be tailored to a specific market and for a specific role, for example school dictionaries that not only contain the basic vocabulary that learners need to know in order to understand what is said in the classroom and grasp the meaning of terms in their textbooks, but also provide critical curriculum support so that learners will succeed in their tests and exams.

Twenty-first century technology has played a crucial role in opening up possibilities for selecting the right vocabulary for the target market, such as schools. Dictionary-making software and the availability of corpora (collections of texts, for example school textbooks and literature) in electronic format have made it possible for educational publishers to include the words which the school curriculum determines that every learner should know.

Studies on the switch from Outcomes-based Education (OBE) as contained in the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) to the current Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) confirm that the shift has resulted in ‘a much more detailed level of specification of content’ (What’s in the CAPS package? – Umalusi). In other words, the new curriculum specifies the ‘exact scope and depth of the content that is to be taught and assessed’. This translates to learners knowing the terminology prescribed by the curriculum and understanding what each term means and how to apply it.

Take, for example, the natural sciences (physical sciences and life sciences) and the social sciences (geography and history). A good South African school dictionary should include curriculum words for physical sciences (such as equilibrium, stoichiometry, vector) and life sciences (such as biosphere, photosynthesis, taxonomy). It is also a no-brainer that subjects like geography and history would be more country-specific and that curriculum terms would reflect burning issues, for example spatial distribution, sustainable development and indigenous knowledge systems for geography and apartheid, civil resistance and nationalism for history.

Mathematics – a subject many learners find challenging – has a unique terminology and has even been described as ‘n separate ‘language’ that schoolkids need to learn. Imagine being asked to “write rational numbers as terminating or recurring decimals” (CAPS Mathematics, FET phase) but being clueless as to what that means. The South African curriculum specifies the terms each learner should be familiar with in order to advance to the next level, and a good school dictionary should support learners by providing the correct terminology and clear definitions and/or example sentences.

Science and maths are obvious examples, but the same is true for all subjects. Consider literature, for example. The South African curriculum specifies the basic vocabulary learners need to know in order to carry out a critical analysis of a literary text, including words such as consonance, enjambment and nemesis. This type of vocabulary is known as a metalanguage, which according to Lexico (powered by Oxford) means ‘a form of language or set of terms used for the description or analysis of another language’.

A dictionary supporting the school curriculum should also contain instruction words used in tests and exams. These include words such as evaluate, organise and extract. Learners may have studied hard and have all the knowledge a subject requires, but if they don’t understand what is asked of them, their marks may never reflect their abilities.

Moreover in South Africa, learners from non-English home-language backgrounds are expected to cross over to English as their Language of Learning and Teaching (LOLT) in Grade 4. This means that they have to read, speak and write English in all their subjects. International studies such as the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) have shown just how much of a challenge this has proved to be for the majority of South African learners, with our country ranking last in a list of 50 participants. However, help is available in the form of curriculum-savvy bilingual dictionaries that make code-switching (flipping from one language to another) a useful way of acquiring the necessary vocabulary fast.

Considering all the reasons above, choosing a dictionary offering the right kind of curriculum support may be one of the best things you can do to help your child succeed at school … and beyond!

The TRaining Room Online

Today we’re featuring The Training Room Online (TTRO), one of ADESSA’s members, who is doing great things in education.

TTRO is an organization of passionate and talented individuals who design and develop innovative learning solutions to upskill and empower people for the now and for the future. They believe in driving change through next generation learning by combining immersive technologies and learning methodologies to deliver relevant competencies that add value to your organization and your people.

The current chairperson of the ADESSA Executive Committee, Jeanine Briggs, is the TTRO representative.