News24

SA pupils prefer English – SAIRR

2012-02-07 12:34

Johannesburg - More than 60% of South African pupils choose English for learning and teaching, the SA Institute of Race Relations said on Tuesday.

This was despite the fact that only 7% of the country's pupils (852 000 out of 12.2 million) spoke English at home.

A total of 7.6 million pupils wanted to be taught in English, the institute's South Africa Survey found.

Similarly, the number of pupils wishing to be taught in Afrikaans exceeded the number who spoke the language at home.

Zulu was the most widely spoken home language, by more than 3.1 million pupils.

However, fewer than a third of these pupils chose to be taught in Zulu.

The same trend was true of Xhosa, Tswana, Pedi, Swati, and Venda speaking pupils.

Fewer than a quarter of pupils whose home language was Ndebele, Sotho, or Tsonga chose to learn in these languages.

"The majority of pupils are taught in African languages at the foundation phase, but switch to either English or Afrikaans as their language of learning and teaching from as early as Grade Four," said Jonathan Snyman, a researcher at the institute.

He said the decline in African languages was a result of choices that parents and pupils made early on in schooling careers.

Comments
  • Brett - 2012-02-07 12:38

    Well it makes sense. Unless there are people that are able to translate subjects like science and biology into Zulu, Xhosa etc...What is the Pedi word for photosynthesis?

      jowza1 - 2012-02-07 12:51

      ephotosynthesis

      Chris - 2012-02-07 13:06

      Jowza - have a Bell's boet, i nearly wet myself

      Gerhard - 2012-02-07 13:27

      And at least our kids have realised that, whilst the parents still argue about keeping tradition and culture alive because forcing our kids to be taught in English is racist and colonialist and prevents economic freedom in our lifetime. They also know that if they want to stand any chance of making it in the global arena, English is far more useful than Zulu, Xhosa, Venda, Pedi, Afrikaans, etc.

      Muligan - 2012-02-07 14:00

      Photosynthesis is a Greek word though. Just saying. Why is there no original English or Afrikaans word for it? Exactly!!! They borrowed from Greek and Latin. Why wouldn't the Pedis and Zulus borrow from the Greek as well? Think about that for a second.

      Sadrick Lottering - 2012-02-07 14:28

      How advance are these African languages? Well lets look at South Sotho/Sesotho for one, the word "Fodisa" means "Cure" it can be used in a sentence where in English you would say "i'm cooling down my tea" the very same word "Fodisa" can be used in this very sentence. Direct translation: "i'm curing my tea" "ke fodisa tie" These language are in my eyes not as inteligent or advance as we would like them to be in certain instances (business settings) but they do hold great value in community building. In the very same language, one would say to your friend s/he must "lighten-up", in Sesotho one would say "Photuloa" direct translation "unrap". Now, that to me sound quit overwhelming, Positivity at best! to ask someone to unrap themselvez, is believing that who ever the party [party being address] is, there's beauty in them. like a flowers blossoming in the morning, that's what's being asked of you in Sesotho. (O' sorry, but that's what i wana believe ain't it) English the Language, culture and tradition are deadwood in this regard! my children wil speak English, and that's the bottom line because Sadrick said, SO!

      Sadrick Lottering - 2012-02-07 14:29

      How advance are these African languages? Well lets look at South Sotho/Sesotho for one, the word "Fodisa" means "Cure" it can be used in a sentence where in English you would say "i'm cooling down my tea" the very same word "Fodisa" can be used in this very sentence. Direct translation: "i'm curing my tea" "ke fodisa tie" These language are in my eyes not as inteligent or advance as we would like them to be in certain instances (business settings) but they do hold great value in community building. In the very same language, one would say to your friend s/he must "lighten-up", in Sesotho one would say "Photuloa" direct translation "unrap". Now, that to me sound quit overwhelming, Positivity at best! to ask someone to unrap themselvez, is believing that who ever the party [party being address] is, there's beauty in them. like a flowers blossoming in the morning, that's what's being asked of you in Sesotho. (O' sorry, but that's what i wana believe ain't it) English the Language, culture and tradition are deadwood in this regard! my children wil speak English, and that's the bottom line because Sadrick said, SO!

      Sadrick Lottering - 2012-02-07 14:30

      How advance are these African languages? Well lets look at South Sotho/Sesotho for one, the word "Fodisa" means "Cure" it can be used in a sentence where in English you would say "i'm cooling down my tea" the very same word "Fodisa" can be used in this very sentence. Direct translation: "i'm curing my tea" "ke fodisa tie" These language are in my eyes not as inteligent or advance as we would like them to be in certain instances (business settings) but they do hold great value in community building. In the very same language, one would say to your friend s/he must "lighten-up", in Sesotho one would say "Photuloa" direct translation "unrap". Now, that to me sound quit overwhelming, Positivity at best! to ask someone to unrap themselvez, is believing that who ever the party [party being address] is, there's beauty in them. like a flowers blossoming in the morning, that's what's being asked of you in Sesotho. (O' sorry, but that's what i wana believe ain't it) English the Language, culture and tradition are deadwood in this regard! my children wil speak English, and that's the bottom line because Sadrick said, SO!

      Brett - 2012-02-07 14:38

      @Muligan the point I was trying to make is that the educational resources (in the English medium) in terms of text books, lab manuals, research papers and so on, are vast and accessible. Please do not concentrate on the one scientific term that I mentioned rather try to see the bigger picture.

      Hoo - 2012-02-07 16:08

      @This country is Chinese country and belongs to the Chinese, thus stop this English bs and speak my language- mandarin!!!!!!!!!

  • Hans - 2012-02-07 12:41

    English is the international standard. I don't know why we keep teaching other languages. All others need to be done away with globally. We pay far to much attention to 'culture' and 'tradition'. These things along with religion is holding mankind back. You know what I say is true.

      Wim - 2012-02-07 12:49

      Hanswors?

      lindaawhelan - 2012-02-07 13:18

      There are 1.3 billion Chinese people who would disagree with you Hans.

      michelle.v.blerck - 2012-02-07 14:08

      Actually Lindaawhelan, teaching english to Asian language speakers is a massive industry and being able to speak english is a vital aspect to succeeding in Asian business cultures.

      Rob - 2012-02-07 15:58

      Spanish is more widely spoken than English

  • Marion - 2012-02-07 12:42

    I think it is widely accepted that English is the language used internationally for communication and that is the reason for this preference. @Brett, you are correct, there are many words (I think in maths too) that cannot be translated at this stage.

  • Daniel - 2012-02-07 12:58

    I doubt it would be difficult to teach these subjects in an african language - generally new words such as photosynthesis remain the same and the sentence is formed around them. By the look of the article - this is the result of a conscious decision by parents (perhaps because of the quality of english speaking teachers or perhaps because children who can speak better english have an advantage in securing a job) whatever the reason - this has nothing to do with the inherent "goodness" of english. Contrary to Hans, I think that Kanji should be taught internationally - it is a language free form of writing which is light years ahead of our alphabet... funny how the Chinese and Japanese continue to dominate in fields of Science, Biology and industry in spite of the distinct lack of the word "photosynthesis" from their vocabulary

      Brett - 2012-02-07 13:09

      How would an aspiring science student manage to do research in Zulu? How many Zulu science text books or Zulu scientific papers, studies etc are available? I majored in biochemistry and microbiology for my tertiary qualification so I do have some insight into the debate...

      Gerhard - 2012-02-07 13:30

      And to add to Brett's comment, Afrikaans friends of mine say they battle to find much on the internet in Afrikaans as well. Ever tried to use Google Translate on an English website? It's pathetic!

      jowza1 - 2012-02-07 13:40

      i tries to translate the word pomp in english and i got shown a windmill

      Marion - 2012-02-07 13:49

      @Daniel... I just went on Google translate and it showed that the Japanese and Chinese do have 'photosynthesis' in their languages... Can't confirm that the translation was correct though cos I cant speak Chinese or Japanese. :-)

      Marion - 2012-02-07 13:52

      @Jowza1 - you made me lol. My kid has tries to translate English to Afrikaans for his homework and comes up with the weirdest things. Simply love 'pomp' being a windmill...

  • Lumko Ntshinka - 2012-02-07 13:12

    It only makes that sense that they do, we cant deny the hard fact that english is a global language, its not a matter of not being proud of your mother tongue but simply being realistic, im a proud Xhosa but believe me if i was thought in xhosa i wudnt have made it past high skul, its downryt impossible.

      Gerhard - 2012-02-07 13:31

      Have a bells Lumko! I wish more and more people would think that way.

      Muligan - 2012-02-07 14:09

      Eh...no you would have made it. I was a teacher for a while and generally black students battle with simple concepts even if they can speak and understand English. Nothing beats mother tongue instruction. The best performing schools around the country are Afrikaans because for the majority in those schools Afrikaans is their mother tongue.

  • Doc - 2012-02-07 13:15

    I think anything can be taught in any language provided their is enough will to do so. The real problem lies in getting a job. English gives one a firm advantage in the market place and allows you to ply your trade across borders and internationally.

  • Wade - 2012-02-07 13:26

    exaclty, afrikaans should be taken out of schools. english is the international language and probably presents the most common point of ground as a for south africa as a society. Take out afrikaans so that our students can focus on what theyre struggling with.

      Phillip Pare - 2013-07-12 08:55

      Did you see Muligan's comment - what do you feel about her views? Regards Phillip Muligan - February 7, 2012 at 14:09 Report commentComments Policy Eh...no you would have made it. I was a teacher for a while and generally black students battle with simple concepts even if they can speak and understand English. Nothing beats mother tongue instruction. The best performing schools around the country are Afrikaans because for the majority i

  • Olivia - 2012-02-07 13:52

    English is universally advantageous in many ways! Glad they realise that.

  • Marion - 2012-02-07 13:57

    My son lost one mark for an English exercise because he wrote: 'The tree cannot bear any fruit'. The rest of the class, including the teacher, insisted it was 'The tree cannot bare any fruit'.

      Garth - 2012-02-07 15:27

      A bare tree will not bear fruit.

  • nthabiseng.priklopil - 2012-02-07 14:11

    Lets not portray English as superior. French, Germans, majority of Europe and etc are not second grade world citizens. They are proud of their mother tongue language and function efficiently. Infact, they hate English. They are part of G8. South Aficans problem is that we believe in what or who is inferior and superior. Our country is unique in the world and that should be celebrated. Ofcourse, we all agree that we need to find a central base to communicate across all 11 cultural backgrounds. Even in so doing, lets not look down and degrade other citizens right of identity in the process.

      Moroamofo - 2012-02-07 14:36

      I agree with you, if we can start now to be proud of who we are and start using our home languages for conversational purposes. I understand a lot of people are ashamed to speak in their own languages.Language is part of culture and it is your identity. Imagine if I have to call myself mopedi but i cannot speak the language. Let us go back to our roots and practice our own cultures.

      Liam - 2012-02-07 14:52

      The French, Germans and majority of Europe conduct their external affairs in English. Their universities publish papers in English, and (most) students submit masters and doctoral dissertations in English. The reality is that it is the international language. If you don't speak English you are at a major disadvantage when it comes to doing business, or obtaining just about any technical and academic information. There are essentially no high impact factor international journals that are non-english, for example. If South Africans want to be competitive in a global economy, they need to be realistic.

      Teresa - 2012-02-07 17:15

      It's not a question of English being superior. Most of the kids in European countries (Nordic countries, Germany, Portugal, Spain, etc.) learn English in school because in every professional meeting where there is more than one nationality people communicate and express their ideas in English. The number of people speaking a certain language has nothing to do with how people communicate across the globe. Chinese is the most widely-spoken language but you will not find any international gathering speaking Chinese! The fact that people communicate in English at such meetings does not detract from their pride in their own culture.

      phathuchicos - 2012-02-09 22:17

      amen to that...

  • Moroamofo - 2012-02-07 14:29

    Our goverment is not doing enough to address the issue of African languages. For example a lot if not all of our politicians address their own communities in English.They are practically promoting English as a language of communication. Government and private sector must invest more in developing this langauges. If for example banks can encourage their clients to demand services in their own langauges. I think this stigma that is attached to own languages will reduced and ultimately it will fade away. There is always less or no budget for the development of indigenous langauges. Maybe the language bill that is being deliberated in parliament will eventually help because it will force the government departments to have language units.

      Marion - 2012-02-07 14:34

      I stand to be corrected, but as far as I know it is written into the statute books that anyone can demand to be attended to in their own language at any time.

  • Linda - 2012-02-07 14:53

    "The most potent weapons in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed".-Steve Biko

  • Hoo - 2012-02-07 15:45

    stront! AFRIKAANS. en di wat wil engels... move na britanje!!

      jonny.g.gonzalez - 2012-02-07 18:33

      if you want speek dutch, move to dutchland.

  • Hoo - 2012-02-07 15:57

    @ASB moenie hier met julle stront kom nie!!!en di wat wil engels... move na britanje daar kan julle di heeldag engels!!

  • billxhosa - 2012-02-07 16:47

    First off English is a stupid language. BUT at this point in history it is the closest thing we have to a universal language. It is the number one choice if you want to communicate in business or education with people from other countries. In Switzerland English is NOT one of the four official languages but you will see all sorts of advertising for English schools because it is the language of business. Maybe in 50 years it will be Chinese but right now it is English. If you want stay living in your straw hut trading cows with the neighbour by all means don't bother with English. If you want access to the business and educational opportunities in the rest of the world learn English as a second (or third or fourth) language. It will also increase your emigration options. (just saying)

  • Grant - 2012-02-08 06:02

    The bottom line is that to travel and do buisness you need English. By all means have other languages for social and cultural purposes. A curious thing I noticed when I was working in England was that all South Africans spoke to each other in Afrikaans. It was some sence of bonding. When my son joined me he also spoke to the others in Afrikaans. I felt a bit left out. In Rhodesia my mother insisted I do French as a second language so I've missed out on a lot.

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