Opinions on Indigenous Languages as Languages of Learning and Teaching in Africa

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  • Title: Opinions on Indigenous Languages as Languages of Learning and Teaching in Africa: Non-English-Speaking Unisa-Students
  • Author(s): Vuyolwethu Seti, Elirea Bornman, Pedro Alvarez-Mosquera
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: New Directions in the Humanities
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies
  • Keywords: Afrikaans, Indigenous Languages, Higher Education; Language Attitudes, Language Choices, Language Opinions; Language of Teaching and Learning, South Africa
  • Volume: 14
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2015
  • ISSN: 2327-7882 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-8617 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2327-7882/CGP/v14i01/43662
  • Citation: Seti, Vuyolwethu, Elirea Bornman, and Pedro Alvarez-Mosquera. 2015. "Opinions on Indigenous Languages as Languages of Learning and Teaching in Africa: Non-English-Speaking Unisa-Students." The International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies 14 (1): 17-31. doi:10.18848/2327-7882/CGP/v14i01/43662.
  • Extent: 15 pages

Abstract

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.