Foundations for literacy: emergent literacy competencies of grade R learners on the Cape Flats.

Ingrid Willenberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    International research has demonstrated that a considerable amount of children's literacy development occurs prior to formal schooling and that emergent literacy skills at school entry are strong predictors of later literacy and general academic achievement. These findings have prompted vigorous early intervention programmes aimed at promoting emergent literacy development to optimise the development of conventional literacy. While there is considerable research conducted in developed countries, there is limited research on the emergent literacy skills of children in South African contexts. In the light of increasing evidence of poor literacy performance of South African children in the foundation phase of schooling it is imperative that appropriate and timely intervention be undertaken. However it is important that intervention be informed by baseline assessments of the children's literacy competencies in the full spectrum of socio-cultural contexts in this diverse country. This study documents the emergent literacy competencies of 101 grade R (the year prior to grade 1, equivalent to kindergarten in the United States) learners attending schools in historically disadvantaged coloured communities on the Cape Flats in the Western Cape. An Emergent Literacy and Language Assessment protocol was developed for use with this population. The children's performance on the assessment tool indicated that in general they possessed a reasonable repertoire of emergent literacy skills. Although they displayed adequate skills to support acquisition of print decoding skills necessary for fluent reading, weaknesses in the decontextualised language skills that have been found to support later reading comprehension, were evident.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)20-28
    Number of pages9
    JournalSouth African Journal of Communication Disorders
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • emergent literacy
    • child language
    • child development
    • kindergarten
    • grade R


    Dive into the research topics of 'Foundations for literacy: emergent literacy competencies of grade R learners on the Cape Flats.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this