Opinions on Indigenous Languages as Languages of Learning and Teaching in Africa: Non-English-Speaking Unisa-Students

By Vuyolwethu Seti, Elirea Bornman and Pedro Alvarez-Mosquera.

Published by The International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: October 30, 2015 $US5.00

Colonial languages such as English still have a powerful position within the linguistic habitus and linguistic hierarchies in Africa—in particular in the educational domain. The consequences are largely negative for mastering indigenous languages and the colonial languages. It furthermore creates a culture of chronic underachievement. Although it was hoped that post-apartheid South Africa would be different due to the official recognition of eleven languages and educational policies pledging to promote indigenous languages, little has come from these enlightened ideals. Instead, an increasing trend toward Anglicisation is noted particularly in higher education. This trend is ascribed to inaction on the part of the government in implementing language policies. Analysts however note the influence of the opinions, attitudes, and language choices of learners and students. This article reports on the results of focus group research among non-English-speaking students at Unisa. The findings confirm the powerful position of English, in particular in the economic sector, which led to choices in favour of English. Some students were however willing to consider the potential benefits of mother tongue education if they would simultaneously also learn English. Some recommendations for the promotion of indigenous languages as languages of learning and teaching in higher education are made.

Keywords: Afrikaans, Indigenous Languages, Higher Education; Language Attitudes, Language Choices, Language Opinions; Language of Teaching and Learning, South Africa

The International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies, Volume 14, Issue 1, March 2016, pp.17-31. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: October 30, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 373.907KB)).

Vuyolwethu Seti

Lecturer, Department of Communication Science, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

Prof. Elirea Bornman

Professor, Department of Communication Science, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

Pedro Alvarez-Mosquera

Lecturer, University of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain