Afrikaanse taalvariasie: Uitdagings vir regverdige meting van jong kinders se taal

Frenette Southwood, Helena Oosthuizen

Abstract


Sowat 5% van alle kinders toon ʼn taalagterstand (Law, Boyle, Harris, Harkness en Nye 2000) en daar is aanduidings dat hierdie syfer hoër is in Suid-Afrika, veral onder baie jong kinders (Van der Linde, Swanepoel, Sommerville, Glascoe, Vinck en Louw 2016). Geen voldoende instrument bestaan waarmee vasgestel kan word watter jong Afrikaanssprekendes hulp sal benodig om toekomstige taalverwante akademiese probleme te oorkom nie. Hierdie artikel lewer verslag oor uitdagings wat weens Afrikaanse taalvariasie ervaar word tydens die ontwikkeling van ʼn ouervraelys waarmee jong kinders se taal gemeet kan word. Hierdie vraelys beslaan vrae oor vroeg-ontwikkelende kommunikatiewe gebare, eerste woorde en vroeë sinskonstruksies, en ouers word versoek om op die lys aan te dui watter gebare, woorde en konstruksies hul kind verstaan en/of voortbring. Die vraelys kan nie onbeperk verleng word nie, want die voltooiing daarvan moet ʼn realistiese taak bly, ook vir ouers met lae geletterdheidsvlakke (vgl. Alcock, Rimba, Holding, Kitsao-Wekulo, Abubakar en Newton 2015). Besluite oor die insluiting of uitsluiting op die vraelys van woorde uit spesifieke Afrikaanse variëteite is egter gereeld nie voor die hand liggend nie.

Bestaande taalmetingsinstrumente diskrimineer wêreldwyd tipies teen kinders wat nie deel van die dominante kultuur en taalgemeenskap vorm nie. Gegee Suid-Afrika se bevlekte geskiedenis wat die erkenning van sprekers van niegestandaardiseerde taalvariëteite betref (vgl. bv. Hendricks 2012; Williams 2016), is die opstel van ʼn geldige ouervraelys ononderhandelbaar. Daar moet dus noukeurig oorweeg word watter woorde op die lys verskyn, want ʼn goeie ouervraelys sal bydra tot kultureel- en talig-regverdige taaltoetsing van jong Afrikaanssprekende kinders. Dit sal help om kinders te identifiseer wat sukkel om hul taal te verwerf en wat ekstra hulp benodig sodat hul taal genoegsaam kan verbeter vóór hul formele skoolloopbaan begin. Sodoende sal hulle ʼn groter kans hê om die kurrikulum te verstaan, skoolsukses te ervaar en’n lang genoeg skoolloopbaan te hê om hul potensiaal te verwesenlik.

Abstract

Approximately 5% of children show a language delay (Law, Boyle, Harris, Harkness and Nye 2000), and there are indications that this figure is higher in South Africa, especially amongst very young children (Van der Linde, Swanepoel, Sommerville, Glascoe, Vinck and Louw 2016). There are no adequate instruments with which to ascertain which young Afrikaans-speaking children will require assistance to overcome future language-related academic problems. This article reports on the challenges experienced owing to Afrikaans language variation during the development of a parent questionnaire with which the language acquisition of young children can be measured. This questionnaire comprises questions on early developing communicative gestures, first words, and early grammatical constructions, and parents are requested to indicate on the list which gestures, words and constructions their child comprehends and/or produces. The length of the questionnaire needs to be contained, because the completion of the questionnaire should remain a realistic task for parents, also for those with low literacy levels. Decisions regarding the inclusion or exclusion on the questionnaire of the words found in specific varieties of Afrikaans are however often not straightforward.

Existing language assessment instruments the world over typically discriminate against children who are not part of the dominant culture and language community. Given South Africa’s stained history with regard to the recognition of speakers of non-standardised language varieties (cf., e.g., Hendricks 2012; Williams 2016), the compiling of a valid parental questionnaire is non-negotiable. It is thus necessary to consider carefully which words should appear on the list, because a good parental questionnaire can contribute to culturally and linguistically fair language assessment of young Afrikaans-speaking children. Such a questionnaire will assist in identifying children who struggle to acquire their language and who need extra assistance in order for their language to improve sufficiently before the commencement of their school careers. That way, they will have a better chance of accessing the curriculum, of experiencing academic success, and of having a sufficiently long school career to realise their potential.


Keywords


Afrikaans; ouer-vraelys; kindertaalontwikkeling; taalvariëteit; CDI

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5842/59-0-829

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ISSN 2224-3380 (online); 1726-541X (print)

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