Original Research

The comprehension and production of quantifiers in isiXhosa-speaking Grade 1 learners

Joanine Nel, Frenette Southwood
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 63, No 2 | a138 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v63i2.138 | © 2016 Joanine Nel, Frenette Southwood | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 August 2015 | Published: 20 May 2016

About the author(s)

Joanine Nel, Department of General Linguistics, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Frenette Southwood, Department of General Linguistics, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


Background: Quantifiers form part of the discourse-internal linguistic devices that children need to access and produce narratives and other classroom discourse. Little is known about the development - especially the prodiction - of quantifiers in child language, specifically in speakers of an African language.

Objectives: The study aimed to ascertain how well Grade 1 isiXhosa first language (L1) learners perform at the beginning and at the end of Grade 1 on quantifier comprehension and production tasks.

Method: Two low socioeconomic groups of L1 isiXhosa learners with either isiXhosa or English as language of learning and teaching (LOLT) were tested in February and November of their Grade 1 year with tasks targeting several quantifiers.

Results: The isiXhosa LOLT group comprehended no/none, any and all fully either in February or then in November of Grade 1, and they produced all assessed quantifiers in February of Grade 1. For the English LOLT group, neither the comprehension nor the production of quantifiers was mastered by the end of Grade 1, although there was a significant increase in both their comprehension and production scores.

Conclusion: The English LOLT group made significant progress in comprehension and production of quantifiers, but still performed worse than peers who had their L1 as LOLT. Generally, children with no or very little prior knowledge of the LOLT need either, (1) more deliberate exposure to quantifier-rich language or, (2) longer exposure to general classroom language before quantifiers can be expected to be mastered sufficiently to allow access to quantifier-related curriculum content.

Keywords: quantifiers; isiXhosa; Grade 1


quantifiers; isiXhosa; Grade 1


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