Most South Africans can speak 2 often 3 different languages, and Grade 1 is when a second language is officially introduced in the classroom. Now that I’ve been around the class for 6 or so months, Ms. Ntombekaya Myeki, the teacher I work with at the Holy Cross School, has given me more opportunities to do all the planning and instruction of what the Grade 1 curriculum calls First Additional Language. The First Additional Language is often English, although it can be one of the many other official languages of South Africa: Afrikans, Zulu, Xhosa, Sesotho, Swati, Setswana, etc.
The home language of the Holy Cross students is Xhosa, and now they are just starting to learn English form the lesson plans I put together. Most of the instruction is simple and aimed at exposing the children to auditory learning through simple greetings, songs, days of the week, months of the year, Simon Says (which is by far the kids favorite), commands, etc. They are also starting to learn to ask simple questions, and the kid’s love practicing their knowledge of simple questions on me and the other native English speakers: “Bhuti, may I go to the toilet?” Although, one little girl hasn’t quite got this question down and still asks, “Bhuti, may I play in the toilet?”
On top of the First Additional Language, I sometimes help lead simple writing and spelling exercises when Ntombekaya is working individually with students. All the words the kids are learning are in Xhosa (imela, isele, amasi, etc) so half of the time I don’t even know the word I’m teaching the children, but rest assured Ntombekaya is the one who actually generates the list of words I help the kids learn to write, so I’m not teaching the kids anything too wild!