SA Journal of Education, Vol 41, No 1 (2021)

English language skills for disciplinary purposes: What practices are used to prepare student teachers?

Nhlanhla Mpofu, Mncedisi C Maphalala


In the study reported on in this article, we explored the preparation practices used to prepare student teachers to use English language skills in disciplinary content teaching. Despite studies which emphasise generic academic literacy where language is a subset of this field discourse, there is a dearth of research studies on the use of English in the specific context of disciplines in initial teacher education (ITE), which is addressed here. Guided by social constructivism, we collected data from 102 purposively selected student teachers from 3 universities. A qualitative multiple case study design was used as the methodological tool, and data from focus group discussions and document analysis were collected, documented and analysed. The results of the analysis show that the student teachers were prepared using structured and unstructured English Across the Curriculum (EAC) pedagogical activities. Structured activities are content oriented learning processes that are largely rigid and prescriptive, while unstructured activities are rooted in the academic values and identity that are held in the institution. Although drawn from a relatively small sample, these findings may assist ITE institutions to develop a curriculum that attends to multiple strategies for developing student teachers’ strategic competence in EAC.

ORCiD iDs of authors:
Nhlanhla Mpofu -
Mncedisi C Maphalala -

Full Text: PDF