News24

Overreliance on English fuels inequality

2011-04-12 09:11

The overemphasis of and overreliance on English is doing the process of community development and nation building in South Africa more harm than good, because of the following reasons:

It traps a vast majority of South Africa citizens in a state of inferiority, disempowerment and mediocrity. English is the mother tongue of only ten percent of South Africans and the ‘chosen’ few from previously disadvantaged communities who are fortunate enough to attend private English schools. Ninety percent of our population speaks a variety of indigenous languages (Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, etc). These are the languages they know best and which enables them to live a meaningful live. To deny them the use of their own languages is undemocratic at best.

It is a barrier to academic excellence and limits contributions to the global knowledge pool. Parents demand instruction in English, often with disastrous results. Research by our own national education department regarding the correlation between repeating a grade and home language indicates that mother tongue English speaking children who are taught in English are at a distinct advantage. They excel academically and are less at risk to repeat a grade. Only nine percent have repeated once, whilst two percent have failed twice.

In the case of majority that are not so privileged, twenty two percent have failed once, whilst 15% have failed once. The former will therefore drive the process of scientific and technological advancement and become the direct benefactors of wealth created by this, whilst the role of latter in all of this is reduced to a mere labourer or consumer.  

It fuels the notion that our indigenous languages have no economic value. English is at the heart of South Africa’s creative industry and therefore dominates our print and electronic media, the television and film industry, our advertisement and graphic design industry, the music and theatre business environment, as well as our entertainment, festival, heritage tourism and related industries. Also visit any bookshop and one will find that the majority of readers, text books, music and film products are imported from Britain and the USA, whilst products in our indigenous languages are limited and in many instances non-existent.

An in-depth understanding of the economic empowerment potential of our indigenous languages and renewed appreciation by speakers of our indigenous languages could however result in growth in demand for products in our indigenous languages. President Zuma mentioned in his State of the Nation address earlier this year that the cultural industries sector contributes about R2bn to the Gross Domestic Product. This contribution can grow significantly if we place our indigenous languages at the heart of the creative sector.  

It is costly to promote indigenous languages.  The notion that a mono-lingual or English-only approach is far more cost efficient than a multi-lingual approach, is premised on a narrow range of economic indicators, such as economies of scale, cost of translations, expanded labour force, etc.

However, a multi-lingual approach offers a much wider range of economic benefits, such as higher through-put rate at school and tertiary level, a more intelligent, versatile and proud labour force, economic growth due to the establishment of various indigenous language related industries, the discovery of new pharmaceutical products, agricultural practices and greater ecological awareness based on indigenous knowledge.

It presupposes that the promotion of indigenous languages furthers ethnic division and undermines social cohesion.  The lack of social cohesion and growing divide between rich and poor in South Africa are the result of promoting English at the expense of our indigenous languages. Whilst an English-only approach suits the elite and their descendants, it limits access to economic, educational and cultural opportunities for the majority of South Africans due to limited verbal and written English skills.

It is in repositioning our indigenous languages as catalysts for creativity, for growth, employment, innovation and competitiveness that we create a better life for all. In this regard the current English-only approach has failed us miserably.

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Comments
  • Han Solo - 2011-04-12 09:16

    What utter nonsense!

      neonpigeon - 2011-04-12 09:38

      Funny that he had to write the letter in English so that at else someone would publish it, read it or understand it.

      Vaal Donkie - 2011-04-12 09:59

      He could just as easily have sent it to Nuus24.com, but then he would be preaching to the converted. Use your noodle, man!

      Mad Hatter - 2011-04-12 10:00

      Agreed , the reality is that in a ever increasing globalised world with instant global communication ,social media and internet ,english has become the 'de facto' common tongue. There are many reasons but if you cannot speak it you are confined to communicate within the limits of your mother tongue nation and people know this will limit your oppertunities. It only makes sense to be capable in more than 1 language with englisg being one of those , some languages don't even have a dictionary yet so you can imagine trying to communicate at university level in those languages .

      neonpigeon - 2011-04-12 10:28

      @ Vuil Donkey. Exactly. If he wanted anyone to actually read it, and for anyone to actually give a 'noodle', he had to do it in English. Nuus24!, seriously, kraal mentality. And you wonder why all the nice Afrikaans girls are getting English husbands. The kraal mentality, as an attempt to save the Afrikaans language will sadly be what kills it.

      LUFC - 2011-04-12 10:29

      When you think these article writers can't get any more delusional... they trump themselves.

      LUFC - 2011-04-12 10:30

      When you think these article writers can't get any more delusional... they trump themselves.

      Christo - 2011-04-12 11:23

      Do yourself a favour and read the article again. Also read the following paper at http://www.yale.edu/macmillan/apartheid/alexanderp2.pdf. Regards CO

      Foreigner - 2011-04-12 11:33

      @neonpigeon. Very interesting remark about nice Afrikaans girls marrying English men for reasons you implied! But then again I can't help but notice better looks amongst Afrikaans girls than the English variety by a very long long margin. If you ever travelled to Russia, Ukraine, Holland and then eventually came down to the UK, the contrast is embarrassingly pronounced in favour of the 3 former countries. Go figure!

      Vaal Donkie - 2011-04-12 11:54

      What is also interesting is that the english babes salivate after boerewors. I can't say I blame them.

      avaricesa - 2011-04-12 12:29

      @Vaal Donkie, not by my experience, all my English girl friends laugh at the accents

      antonbar - 2011-04-12 20:22

      Vir al julle soutsakkies wat so trots is op julle ou riool-taaltjie wat deur ingeteelde inwoners van die moddereiland uitgedink is: Ek stel voor julle begin donners vinnig Mandarynse Chinees leer. Daar is reeds ver meer as 'n duisend miljoen Chinese, en die 21ste eeu gaan ongetwyfeld die Chinese eeu wees. Julle argumente dat Engels vir altyd die dominante taal gaan wees, gaan dus gouer as wat julle dink ongeldig wees.

  • KD - 2011-04-12 09:23

    Agreed. Nonsense. What the author clearly fails to bear in mind, is that English is the business language of the whole world.

      cerveza - 2011-04-12 09:43

      @KD - That is another problem, more business is done in 1st languages in German, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese than in English. It is only the need for English as a 2nd language that keeps it alive in the business world

      Almaki - 2011-04-12 10:15

      @cerveza: Actually, it's the need for mutual comprehension that keeps English alive.

      inyaniso@24.com - 2011-04-12 10:16

      Why is there such a massive need for all things in life to be so cut and dry? The reality is we should embrace both. It is simply unaviodable that the global village conducts the majority of its dealings in english and those without a proper grasp of this language will be at a distinct disadvantage. So let the school continue to do it's curriculum in english but only if they are placing a proper foundation in learning the language in the first place. A very interesting titbit is that the average white person in this country can speak 2 languages, namely english and afrikaans, yet the average black person can speak significantly more.

      Blip - 2011-04-12 10:20

      China, Japan, Germany, Italy and France etc etc all do ROARING trade in their own country's language. 99% all your trade is done with the people who live right on your doorstep.

      NuttyZA - 2011-04-12 10:27

      @cerveza... "It is only the need for English as a 2nd language that keeps it alive in the business world" absolute nonsense... English is widely spoken... lets see, it is spoken as the 1st Language of the following: USA, +-280 million, Canada +- 17 million(English Speakers), UK +- 60 Million, Australia +- 16 Million, New Zealand+- 3.5 Million, Ireland +- 2.6 million, South Africa +- 3.5 Million and one or 2 other smaller places (such as the Caymans)... English will always remain the business language of choice for these people +- 400 Million people, with the USA and the UK being the strongest economies in the world

      neonpigeon - 2011-04-12 10:30

      The problem is that there are more than 20 languages right on our doorstep. Japan and Italy are not doing so well either.

      PSquare - 2011-04-12 10:43

      @NuttyZA, The top 5 biggest world economies are USA, China, Japan, Germany, and France. Only the USA speaks English 1st language. Go figure

      cerveza - 2011-04-12 11:05

      @NuttyZA - if you look at the amount of exports and international business, Germany outshines USA in both categories and the Netherlands outshines England, and Germany and the Netherlands do business with each other in German. And to add to that you have Austria, Switzerland who speak German and then most eastern European countries and Russia that prefers doing international business in German than in English(where both parties speak it of coarse). Learning German in China and Japan is also growing more popular as their need for international business within the EU is growing, as the EU is the current economic Superpower and their language of choice is German

      OzzyInSA - 2011-04-12 12:32

      @cerveza, I am not sure that these things you are stating are facts. I have been to most of the countries you have mentioned and have had no problem with speaking English both in social and business areas. Some interesting facts for you, though. Over 500,000 Chinese people per year go to Australia on educational visa. What for? To learn English. The USA gets $9billion per year from people from China (mainly) going to schools and colleges to learn English. 90% of all internet sites are English (Unfortunately US English, but still). Most, if not all, countries accept English as the universal language. What can't South Africa?

      Mad Hatter - 2011-04-12 12:42

      @cerveza - Nearly all german corporate business people and in fact the general popultation speak english and its not uncommon for europeans to be fluent in up to 5 languages. With almost total unanimity , multi-nationals language of communication is in English . Your points make sense but i think its the widespread geographical understanding of english which makes it 'common' in global terms.

      KD - 2011-04-12 14:07

      @ cerveza - The bottom line, is English is the de facto business language. @ Blip, 99% of trade in SA is NOT done locally.

      cerveza - 2011-04-12 14:26

      @OzzzInSA - you can google and see for yourself what are the biggest export economies in the world, then do an online job search for the smaller top 20 countries and see what languages are in demand. I am not denying english is the current biggest world language, I am just saying it is not as big and as world standard as many people who have not left the english world to see the other 90 percent of it think it is.

      cerveza - 2011-04-12 15:22

      @Madhatter - as you stated most Europeans speak 4-5 languages. So ask yourself what will be the need to learn so many extra languages unless it is needed or at least useful. The fact is that they get education from pre-school level up to university in their mother tongue, and then learn english plus another 2-3 languages. they are proof that their is only a limited number of people speaking english and their is the need to learn many more languages if you indeed want to be worldly and not just consider yourself worldly because you have only focused on a certain part of the world

      Mad Hatter - 2011-04-12 16:17

      @cervesa - of course its useful to know many languages , we could learn many languages from isiZulu to Arabic which would be useful in Africa or you can use 1 language (english) which the majority understands. I in no way support the degeneration of other languages but feel having one common , taught and communicated language is important and can only benefit students in the long run. BTW , English is the second most spoken language and most number of countries who's official language is english .

      piet.strydom - 2011-04-12 18:11

      @Cerveza - I have done software implementations in The Netherlands (English) China (English), The Philipines (English), and Germany (English). The languages most commonly spoken in the world is Mandarin, English and Spanish. (And I think in that order.) Geographically it is far more widespread than any other language. Alsom it is the language generally used in Western Multi-nationals. Indeed it is the use of English as a second language in business that keeps it alive, not sure why you feel the need to add "only" to your statement? What else could there be? For the record.

  • Johann - 2011-04-12 09:23

    And are you going to translate all the financial, biological, maths and science textbooks into the indigenous languages? When most of them haven't yet have any words for the more technical terms? And are you going to educate the teachers in said textbooks so that they can teach the kids? Impossible buddy. Never going to happen. And if it did, then we'll have a crap load of professional people who cannot communicate, since each is speaking a different language!

      Blip - 2011-04-12 10:28

      In only 20 years the Afrikaners turned their inferior "kitchen Dutch" dialect, spoken by under 1 million mother-tongue speakers, into a rich language with a fully-functional technological and academic-right-to-PhD language. They created universities in which one could study EVERY subject in Afrikaans, right up to doctorate level. They PROVED that and how it could be done, given the necessary political will to do so. NOT impossible. CAN and already HAS been done.

      Stever2010 - 2011-04-12 11:05

      @Blip, All those "Afrikaans" universities are now English, that offer an afrikaans alternative. If you are a player not capable of competing on an international stage, you are not a player. As for the earliewr comment of the Chinese, Germans, French etc etc conducting business in there mother tongue, 1) I bet they all say US Dollar in english, and 2) There are 10 million english speakers in China. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_English-speaking_population.

      Tigra - 2011-04-12 11:35

      @Blip - The problem is that Afrikaans was just one language. We have 11 official languages in our country. To create technical terms, textbooks, educate teachers etc in all 11 languages just isn't practical...

      Fred Basset - 2011-04-12 11:35

      Interesting to note that in engineering and IT, the English jargon words are used almost exclusively, even amongst the Afrikaans. Yes, there are Afrikaans equivalents to the English technical terms, but Arikaaners choose not to use them, even when the entire meeting is conducted in Afrikaans. I am sure that other global professional fields have similar patterns (medical, legal, accounting, physics, etc). Anybody know how to say Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in Afrikaans? How about Zulu or Xhosa? Can anybody offer the equivalent of terrabyte or quark in another language? Who gets to draw the line when English words may be used and when indigenous words must take their place?

      cerveza - 2011-04-12 12:11

      @Fred - languages constantly changes because of popular demand, many words are absorbed and replaced, many words in english were borrowed from other languages and now form part of English, so it will not be necessary to make up words for words already known or in use, but just to explain something in your mother tongue so you can better understand what it is

      Blip - 2011-04-12 12:15

      "All" those Afrikaans universities have been FORCED to offer tuition or translation into English only because of a POLITICAL decision. They did not HAVE to do so because of any insurmountable structural defects or shortcomings of their former all-Afrikaans medium of instruction. And, in spite of the huge enforced anglicisation, not a single one of those universities has risen even one place in the global league tables of "world's best university". They've all fallen. SA has not one university among the world's top 50. Or even the world's top 100. So, their "global competitiveness" has slipped. Unlike many non-English premier world universities like the Sorbonne, or Leiden or Peking or Seoul or Tokyo where they teach and research in the native language of the region.

      Fred Basset - 2011-04-12 12:48

      I hear you cerveza. All I can say is good luck in finding suitable technical individuals to explain things in your mother tongue if your mother tongue is other than English.

      Blip - 2011-04-12 13:44

      One does not need to upgrade ALL eleven "official languages" (which was a piece of touchy-feely nonsense to start off with). You merely develop three -- each one already geographically-located and populated with several MILLIONS of mother-tongue speakers: Zulu/KZN, Xhosa/Eastern Cape, Sotho/Free State. One university in each region teaching all their undergraduate and honours courses in only that language. It CAN be done. Afrikaans proved that.

      Blip - 2011-04-12 13:59

      Fred Basset -- apropos DNA : it's "deoksieribonukleinsuur", or DNS for short. Every Afrikaans-speaking matric biology pupil would know that.

      Blip - 2011-04-12 13:59

      Fred Basset -- apropos DNA : it's "deoksieribonukleinsuur", or DNS for short. Every Afrikaans-speaking matric biology pupil would know that.

      Blip - 2011-04-12 13:59

      Fred Basset -- apropos DNA : it's "deoksieribonukleinsuur", or DNS for short. Every Afrikaans-speaking matric biology pupil would know that.

      Blip - 2011-04-12 14:00

      Fred B -- apropos DNA : it's simply "deoksieribonukleinsuur", or DNS for short. Every Afrikaans-speaking matric biology pupil would know that.

      KD - 2011-04-12 14:10

      yes but Blip, how utterly useless is Afrikaans outside of SA. Anyone wanting to succeed in business internationally, or indeed in SA on a serious level, HAS to speak English. Afrikaans and our other official languages are about as useful as tits on a bull anywhere but here.

      KD - 2011-04-12 14:10

      yes but Blip, how utterly useless is Afrikaans outside of SA. Anyone wanting to succeed in business internationally, or indeed in SA on a serious level, HAS to speak English. Afrikaans and our other official languages are about as useful as tits on a bull anywhere but here.

      KD - 2011-04-12 14:10

      yes but Blip, how utterly useless is Afrikaans outside of SA. Anyone wanting to succeed in business internationally, or indeed in SA on a serious level, HAS to speak English. Afrikaans and our other official languages are about as useful as tits on a bull anywhere but here.

      KD - 2011-04-12 14:10

      yes but Blip, how utterly useless is Afrikaans outside of SA. Anyone wanting to succeed in business internationally, or indeed in SA on a serious level, HAS to speak English. Afrikaans and our other official languages are about as useful as tits on a bull anywhere but here.

      KD - 2011-04-12 14:10

      yes but Blip, how utterly useless is Afrikaans outside of SA. Anyone wanting to succeed in business internationally, or indeed in SA on a serious level, HAS to speak English. Afrikaans and our other official languages are about as useful as tits on a bull anywhere but here.

      KD - 2011-04-12 14:10

      yes but Blip, how utterly useless is Afrikaans outside of SA. Anyone wanting to succeed in business internationally, or indeed in SA on a serious level, HAS to speak English. Afrikaans and our other official languages are about as useful as tits on a bull anywhere but here.

      KD - 2011-04-12 14:12

      yes but Blip, how utterly useless is Afrikaans outside of SA. Anyone wanting to succeed in business internationally, or indeed in SA on a serious level, HAS to speak English. Afrikaans and our other official languages are about as useful as tits on a bull anywhere but here.

      Blip - 2011-04-12 21:54

      How useless is Japanese outside Japan? Or Mandarin outside China? Or Norwegian outside Norway? One learns a language mainly for its usefulness INSIDE your country, not outside of it.

      Oryx_ZA - 2011-04-19 11:27

      @blip. With the greatest respect...yes Afrikaans has an equivalent word for most technically words, but they are INCREDIBLY clumsy. You can actually see how these words were constructed in this artificial manner. I had plenty of Afrikaans friends at tuks who chose to do their courses in English because they found the words easier to understand. Even English has not attempted to translate some Latin words because it saw that there is no better explanation. English is a fantastic adapter and has taken centuries to evolve and adapt. It has such variety of dialects but all English speakers understand each other. That has not been achieved with mandarin where people in the south of china struggle to understand the dialect in the north. I highly doubt that english will ever be eradicated but rather a hybrid language will develop…this will take some time but if you consider the sudden emergence of a sub-dialect of English that now exists with emails and SMS’s it really is amazing.

  • Richard - 2011-04-12 09:25

    English is the universal language in just about every sphere of life. Without it you will get nowhere. Live with it.

      Vaal Donkie - 2011-04-12 10:01

      Give it a few decades and then come report back. The English speaking West is in decline.

      cerveza - 2011-04-12 10:20

      @Vaal donkey - I agree, I found many places in the world where speaking English got me nowhere so I opted for German and Spanish and I am getting much further

      SimonP - 2011-04-12 10:42

      Really cerveca, and these places you have been to are where exactly?

      cerveza - 2011-04-12 11:17

      @SimonP - Brazil, Austria, Switzerland, Mozambique, Czech Republic, Russia, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Hungery, Croatia, Uruguay, Poland, Slovakia, Iran, Bosnia and Spain and Germany of coarse. I can also list another 30 countries that I still plan on visiting where English will be useless but knowledge of German or Spanish are not and another 50 countries where no 3 of these languages will get me anywhere. The world is a big place and you need to get out more

      Poloyatonki - 2011-04-12 11:30

      cerveza.. You wasting your time with SimoronPee.

      cerveza - 2011-04-12 11:54

      @Poloyatonki - I have read many of your comments and your inability to respond properly to any argument, and I cannot figure out if you are a supertroll or just someone truly ignorant and stupid that figured out how to use the internet, so if I wasted my time it will be because I responded to you with this comment

      avw - 2011-04-12 12:25

      @cerveza - Deutsch ist nicht besonders brauchbar, hoechstens in Deutschland, Oesterreich und der Schweiz. Sogar in Namibia kommt man meistens mit Englisch und Afrikaans weiter. Tut mir Leid - mich haben Sie nicht ueberzeugt. Any answers? Of coarse(sic)?

      avw - 2011-04-12 12:30

      @cerveza - Deutsch ist nicht besonders brauchbar, hoechstens in Deutschland, Oesterreich und der Schweiz. Sogar in Namibia kommt man meistens mit Englisch und Afrikaans weiter. Tut mir Leid - mich haben Sie nicht ueberzeugt. Any answers? Of coarse(sic)?

      cerveza - 2011-04-12 13:21

      @avw - in an European business sense German is far more useful than English, because of the size of the German economy and their amount of exports, and the lack of English as a 2nd language in most European countries more business transactions are signed in German than the US and England signs with the world combined. Most countries in Europe and many in Asia also have a greater demand for employees speaking German and therefor it can be a useful language for greater worldwide employment opportunity As a tourist language, German is not that much used but I have been to 7 countries where German was spoken by most people and english was only spoken by a few people working in tourism. So knowing english literally got me nowhere Only 25 percent of the world can understand english, and that includes basic comprehension, a much higher percentage can speak Spanish, French and Arabic combined, but how many people do you come across speaking these languages on a daily basis. The importance of a language has to do on where you are and where you plan on going. So for most South Africans english is their best option, but for 75 of the world, they could not care less if english exists or not

  • James - 2011-04-12 09:27

    Life is not fair. Deal with it.

  • semaj - 2011-04-12 09:29

    So we expect the emergent Chinese colonisers to learn an indigenous language or 2 or 9 and hopefully, along the way teach the local indigenous speakers new words and concepts to enrich their understanding of mathematics, physics, etc. Words fail me, we want to be world players, but on our terms, to hell with English or any other Western language. It is greatly to the credit of the Afrikaners that their language managed to evolve to include the concepts and find words for maths, science and so on. When will an indigenous language manage the same?

      gizzy - 2011-04-12 10:34

      Is that why all chinese have to speak madarin? Even with all their languages and dialects they have realised that only one language works.

      Blip - 2011-04-12 11:00

      The indigenous languages CAN be grown into fully-operational techno-academic languages. Afrikaans did it with only 250 000 mother tongue speakers (at the time). Zulu has 10 million. They have no excuses -- all the economies of scale are already in their favour. How does it make sense for KZN to have seven universities -- every one 100% English -- when you're sitting right on top of 10 million Zulus, not one of whom can even study Botany 101 or Animal Husbandry 101 in isiZulu?

      Blip - 2011-04-12 11:59

      All Chinese do NOT have to speak Mandarin. Tens of millions of Chinese living in and around Hong Kong speak not one word of Mandarin. They speak Cantonese -- which is completely unintelligible to a Mandarin-speaker, just as how Dutch or Swedish is quite unintelligible to a German.

  • Kevin King - 2011-04-12 09:29

    Here is what I suggest: Take the terminologies contained in the thousands of subjects (science, investment management, share trading, poetry, law etc) available at schools and universities, come up with translations in all of the other 10 indigenous languages, rewrite all of textbooks and related materials such as assignments, teach teachers who speak those languages those subjects so that they are masters in that subject, then we can forget this whole debate.

      cerveza - 2011-04-12 10:30

      @Kevin - that sounds just like what hundreds of countries around the world do. Isn't most older terminologies in English from German and Latin anyway, do you need to translate it to use it in a language? Arent many modern terms in other languages just absorbed not translated from English. Did Afrikaans people not do what you suggest when they were still only few 100 000s?

      Blip - 2011-04-12 10:30

      Just follow the successful blueprint of Afrikaans!

      semaj - 2011-04-12 12:28

      Tell a Zulu what a "light year" is and watch his reaction.

  • neonpigeon - 2011-04-12 09:31

    Globalisation. The Internet. We need to be able to communicate efficiently with other people. Teaching, especially at university is specialised. English is the only way, in many cases that knowledge can be transferred and business can be conducted. We have hardly any dealings with South America, a powerful economic force, because nobody understands their crazy languages. This kind of retoric is just an attempt to keep people apart and to prevent them from reaping the benefits that a cohesive global society has to offer. People who don't speak English now in South Africa don't innovate, or make new pharmaceutical discoveries. Maybe it is their is no good education for them in whatever language they speak or maybe it is because they cannot share their innovations with the rest of the world because of their isolationist language. Summary of letter: Praat Afrikaans of hou jou bek.

      Blip - 2011-04-12 10:31

      South America is Spanish. (Brazil, however, is Portuguese)

      neonpigeon - 2011-04-12 11:06

      Exactly, though the dialect is slightly different. Not many South Africans can speak either of those languages. Those countries tend to be quiet internationally, despite their size, due to the language issue. Never hear anything about them.

      Blip - 2011-04-12 11:53

      After English, Spanish is the second-most widely-spoken language on earth. (Mandarin is massively concentrated in China itself, so it's got the raw numbers but it doesn't have the global spread. Not yet.) Many tens of thousands of South Africans -- and Angolans and Mozambicans -- speak Portuguese as their very own first home language! Thousands of polyglot South Africans can speak Spanish. In the USA -- esp. New Mexico, Texas, California, Arizona etc -- there are entire towns and urban neighbourhoods where Spanish is the ONLY language you'll hear.

      neonpigeon - 2011-04-12 16:40

      10s of thousands of people in South Africa is 0.002% of the population.

      Blip - 2011-04-13 01:03

      You an get by without any Spanish (or Russian, Greek, Hungarian and Chinese) if you only stay in South Africa. In fact, you could probably get by quite happily on an ordinary day-by-day transactional basis without any English at all and if the only one language you could speak was Afrikaans.

  • Frungy - 2011-04-12 09:40

    Christo, do me a favour, engage your brain. Promoting regional languages (and they are regional) would just split South Africa further and wouldn't make anyone proud, just confused. Go down to the court house and watch a case where they debate the precise translation of one word for 20 minutes and take 5 hours to take a single statement. All that promoting regional languages would do would be to waste time, make things more confusing and result in more chaos.

  • Umfubi - 2011-04-12 09:43

    Dream on... your heart may be in the right place, but you haven't thought this one through in any way adequately.

  • saliem - 2011-04-12 09:45

    Bollocks @Christo. Please explain then why Afrikaans speakers (at public schools) perform well. Quality research material is generally only available in English... hence learners doing FET or other post matric learning, have to bite the bullet and do whatever is necessary. There are also MANY documented cases of black Africans succeeding, even though they didn't go to English schools. The real issue is not about language - it's about engendering a culture of lifelong learning, buckling down and making the effort that is required to advance. There are many many opportunities out there for people being able to advance their literacy skills (at government expense) - libraries and other resources are also available, so no more excuses please.

      Maddy-CT - 2011-04-12 10:13

      Agree with you, Saliem. My home language is Portuguese, but I experienced no difficulty in learning English 1st Lang and Afrikaans 2nd Lang at school. My husband and daughter are English speaking, but I taught my daughter to speak Portuguese from an early age and she is quite fluent. My friends who have home languages other than English have had similar experiences. What I am saying is that home languages can be taught and kept alive in the home situation as part of our cultural heritage, or taken as a 2nd language at school with English as a 1st language to enable children to cope with tertiary education later. All the Afrikaans children at my daughter's school are taught English as their 1st Lang and are fluent in both languages, and it is the same with the isiKhosa speaking children.

      Blip - 2011-04-12 10:50

      "Quality research material" has to be accessed in whatever language it was produced and translated into whatever language you happen to speak. Plato, Aristotle, Galileo, Einstein, Hegel, Marx, Freud, Sartre, Linnaeus, Celsius, Confucius, you name them --- they ALL learnt and produced their work in their own languages. If you're researching today, you'd be a fool to ignore path-breaking new work studied and published in Mongolian, Croatian, Turkish, Japanese or Indonesian by researchers who can't speak a word of English!

  • avaricesa - 2011-04-12 09:46

    Troll.

  • zulufox - 2011-04-12 09:47

    watch this space, in future... Chinese will be the language of business... starting with my classes soon!

      gizzy - 2011-04-12 10:37

      Chinese isn't a language. They have many dialects and are in the same situation as us. Hence they all have to learn and speak madarin and english!

      gizzy - 2011-04-12 10:37

      Chinese isn't a language. They have many dialects and are in the same situation as us. Hence they all have to learn and speak madarin and english!

  • KomboKitten - 2011-04-12 09:56

    i dont agree at all. with auniversal language we become UNIFIED. those who feel trapped need to learn the language of the WORLD in order to UNIFY. plain and simple.

      cerveza - 2011-04-12 13:28

      @KomboKitten - the language of the world keeps changing, and for that matter the size of the world, through history Persian, Latin, Greek, Arabic, Turkish, Portuguese, Spanish and English have been described as such, so if you want to support the world language, support the next one, before you are left behind

  • Sisie - 2011-04-12 10:14

    I could have sworn that English just happened to be the international language of business, but there again i keep forgetting that the indigenous population are extremely superior to the rest of the world, and would prefer another language to be spoken - i guess at this time it would be Zulu. But there again if you keep your majority population downtrodden and incomprehensible then you are sure to stay in power till God comes.

  • vinnythesaff - 2011-04-12 10:14

    I'm Afrikaans and had to learn English to be able to study in English...use your head. Go lament the realities of the currently empowered elsewhere. They are subject to exeactly what I am. Get with the program. It's only seen as unfair when black people say that it's unfair...The system applies to everyone. I'm sick and tired of people who do everything in their power to understand the plight (sic) of those who are in power and who are opressing us...without English in this country, indiginous peoples and Afrikaans people are at the same disadvantage. Live with it.

  • Bill - 2011-04-12 10:16

    Those that want to stay tribal do so at their own will… and their own right to do so, surely! English is a universal language. If I was a parent of a child and our mother tongue was not English, I would certainly ensure my child was conversant in English, as well as mother tongue. Because the advantages outweigh the disadvantages of staying with mother tongue only! That is just how this world works! How many of these people without command of the English language, dream of settling in the west someday? Without English, this dream would not be easy to achieve. In commerce and industry, English is the universal language. So if one wants to stay without English command, surely they are not earnest in their own personal desire to empower themselves fully, in terms of financial and personal successes. Sure, the people that do not have a command of the English language are at a disadvantage, but they chose to be so in most cases. We are after all, a product of our own input! Foreigners come here and learn English in a relatively short space of time, so, if they can do it, why can’t indigenous peoples not do the same? It’s a case of, stay as you are for the rest of your life…or change! The choice is one’s own, personally! I deal with China extensively, on a daily basis and you better believe how well most of them speak and write English….that’s the difference and the reason why their economy is so strong, they apply themselves! Ostrich may keep their heads in the sand…..but there is no reason why people should follow suite.

  • Blip - 2011-04-12 10:18

    The trouble is that the children are NOT taught by first-language English speakers anyway. They're taught in faux-English by third-language teachers who themselves were taught in faux-English by third-language speakers. It all becomes a roaring comedy like "Chinese Whispers".

      DW - 2011-04-12 13:04

      You are right, Blip. However the solution is not therefore to try to teach up to tertiary level in all 11 languages. The solution is to improve the teaching skills and English language abilities of those who teach our children. A teacher teaching English must be able to communicate properly in this language and have the relevant qualifications to prove that he/she can do so. So many of our teachers do not even have a matric, let alone a university education in the subject they are teaching. THERE is your problem, not the fact that English is being taught by non first-language English speakers. The drop in the standards is well known and documented (they cannot even set proper exams) and then we get huge increases in matric pass rates every year - a combination of expecting less and less of our teachers and therefore expecting less and less of our students. Fix the problem, dont create new ones by moving the goal posts.

      Blip - 2011-04-12 22:10

      It's not teachers teaching English which are the biggest problem. One hopes that they would all have had several years of high-level university or college training in English, where they would have been taught by linguistically super-competent first-language speakers. The trouble comes in those teaching OTHER subjects -- like biology, history, geography, accounting etc -- in what they imagine to be English. Those teachers will have had very little English tuition. They'd have picked what smattering they possess from non-English tutors, who -- in turn -- learnt their pidgin from an older generation of non-English speaker. "Teaching in English" only makes sense if you're taught by someone with real, mother-tongue fluency in that language. Otherwise you're really only teaching in gibberish. And gibberish is not the international language of business at all. It's a useless, frustrating waste of time and money.

  • SimonP - 2011-04-12 10:28

    English is the international business language. Can you imagine a foriegn company investing in SA if english wasnt spoken.

      Blip - 2011-04-12 12:28

      Investors speak in figures on a balance sheet. Of course investors will invest in ANY country -- regardless of what language they speak -- as long as the numbers crunch out right. The Swiss watch industry, the Finnish cellphone industry, the Portuguese cork industry, the Japanese automotive industry --- investors invest in them. Who cares about English? Just read their bizarre instruction brochures!

  • WPWW - 2011-04-12 10:36

    Sorry christo, couldn't get thru the whole boring article but the language thing is not correct, I think its better that a scholar repeats in schoo and learns english because at tertiary level its english world wide or afrikaans in SA. Also ask yourself why did Zim have the highest literacy rate in Africa. Not because of shona education, same with the francophone african countries, the whole population speaks french and their education was(is?) in one language

      Blip - 2011-04-12 11:41

      Who TEACHES that kid English? Not a mother-tongue English speaker. That kid learns "instant-coffee" pseudo-English. And the poor little sod thinks it's the real deal... tragic!

  • Naraku - 2011-04-12 10:40

    There is no valid reason to not be able to speak English in South Africa. It is everywhere, you don't need to learn it, you just have to not avoid it.

  • moocus - 2011-04-12 10:48

    The European Union commissioners have announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phased plan for what will be known as EuroEnglish (Euro for short). In the first year, "s" will be used instead of the soft "c." Sertainly, sivil servants will resieve this news with joy. Also, the hard "c" will be replaced with "k". Not only will this klear up konfusion, but typewriters kan have one less letter. There will be growing publik emthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced by "f". This will make words like fotograf" 20 persent shorter. In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of silent "e"s in the languag is disgrasful, and they would go. By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" by "z" and "w" by " v". During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou", and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters. After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer. Ze drem vil finali kum tru.

      avaricesa - 2011-04-12 12:09

      LOL

  • Andre - 2011-04-12 10:55

    That's what i'm saying. Study in your own language from grade one to university. English should be a compulsory second language for all. But then again the word "Apartheid" means "Separate development". Will we not be right back where we started then.

  • LUFC - 2011-04-12 10:56

    He has written this article in English

  • LJ Graey - 2011-04-12 11:00

    Well written, but I have to disagree to some extent. It runs much deeper than you're giving it credit for. South Africa's reliance on English as the main form of communication has much more to do with our history as a British colony than it does with any kind of wilful over-reliance on it. Take the many northern and central African countries where the main spoken language is French as an example. They do not rely very heavily on English at all, and they don't need to because French serves the same purpose, and has the exact same limiting effect on their own indigenous languages. What we also need to consider is the practicability of conversing in multiple languages. Though it would certainly do wonders in preserving certain historical aspects of our different cultures (to an extent) it would also necessarily have to change them to accommodate and assimilate world knowledge. Add to that the need to then study multiple languages far beyond the point of basic understanding simply to avoid the inconvenience of learning English (Or one of the Romantic languages, or German, or Mandarin for that matter) to the same degree and it comes across more as a show of self importance than an actual attempt at making life easier. Another factor often overlooked is that cultures, and by extension their languages, necessarily have to evolve, and as a result many will unfortunately become little more than dead languages representing ancient societies. Perhaps it is time we accept this?

      Christo - 2011-04-12 11:21

      Thanks LJ. Your response indicates that you read the article with insight. Please read the following article by Neville Alexander at http://www.yale.edu/macmillan/apartheid/alexanderp2.pdf. Regards CO

      manicm - 2011-04-12 11:37

      Bollocks. So you want to bring in colonialism into the equation. What national 1st language has Brazil adopted? Yes Portuguese. I am Indian, I could have demanded education in my rare dialect. How would that have helped me? Afrikaans was institutionalised as a 2nd language in the Apartheid era, African indigenous langauages were not. A gross injustice indeed, but we don't have the resources to reverse a 300 year misjudgement. We should foster mother-tongue languages at home, but for education we need to be a bit more realistic than what you propose. So it's easy for you to speak Christo - as you had 1st class Afrikaans universities to study at, while the rest of us who spoke other languages other than English/Afrikaans did not.

      Blip - 2011-04-12 12:40

      Note, manicm, that the Brazilians have adopted Portuguese. Portuguese (not Spanish, which is the lingua franca of their entire continent and which is -- after English -- the most widely spoken language on earth.) They went with Portuguese. In European terms, a small and insignificant tongue. Globally -- well, it's absolutely nowhere. But it's just huge in Brazil. So they went for it.

      LJ Graey - 2011-04-12 13:13

      Well manicm, it's a little hard to view any system without considering its history, no matter how distasteful it might sound. It would also serve to remember that though Spanish and Portuguese are different languages they do have a common ancestry, which makes any communication divide much easier to bridge. (Take Dutch and Afrikaans as an example. The similarities outstrip the differences. The shared vocabulary and grammatical structure alone make it a breeze to understand each other, even if a little vaguely.) The only thing I was really proposing is that we accept the need for a more common language of communication, and that as a result some of our languages will not survive the transition. I don't really see what's so unrealistic about that? Unless of course I misunderstood your comment?

      manicm - 2011-04-12 16:38

      Blip and LJGraey - you have misunderstood my comment insofar as that I generally disagree with Christo's article. I believe a certain level of mother-tongue language is needed in Primary School, but after high-school it quickly becomes unfeasible.

      LJ Graey - 2011-04-12 16:51

      Ah... That explains it manicm. Was wondering how we could be at loggerheads while espousing the same point of view? My bad... Sorry 'bout that.

      LJ Graey - 2011-04-12 16:54

      Ah... That explains it manicm. Was wondering how we could be at loggerheads while espousing the same point of view? My bad... Sorry 'bout that.

      Blip - 2011-04-12 22:26

      Tertiary study by non-English speakers in their own vernacular is perfectly feasible all over the world. Iceland, with a national population of only 250000 operates a world-renowned national university with all subjects -- including science -- taught in Icelandic. Other nations with larger numbers of native-speakers have many universities, all of whom teach in their own languages. In SA there are several Afrikaans universities and that's because 100 years ago someone had the political will to develop Afrikaans from a kitchen-tongue into a fully-fledged technical/academic language. And they did so with comparatively small amounts of money and in less than 20 years. So, it CAN be done. It HAS been done. And it can be done again now, given the will. The benefits are huge: consider how, from a spoken kitchen-patois with hardly any books, Afrikaans now has a massive, growing corpus of very fine literature. Magazines and papers in every corner shop. But try to find anything in Zulu or Xhosa? There's nothing.

  • juschase00 - 2011-04-12 11:03

    i did not even finish the article... was too poor to read further. We cannnot expect all 9000 official languages to flourish in south africa, that is our flaw. Where is the common denominator? that is english.... though english is only "10%" as you claim a first language, it is understood by atleast 90%. how many can even understand xhosa or isizulu? 50% if we lucky?

      W H Kotze - 2011-04-12 20:06

      Your statistics are way of the mark. Untill very recently, and perhaps still now, Afrikaans was the most widely spoken and understood language in SA. Go outside the urban centres of the western Cape and English is a very foreign language, as it is in many other parts of this country: and that is the essence of van Rheede's argument.

      Blip - 2011-04-13 00:47

      WH Kotze is right -- Afrikaans is definitely the most widely understood language (especially when you're ANYWHERE out in the platteland). But that's neither here nor there. This debate is about whether to deliberately advance some of the big native languages up to the same academic and technical level as Afrikaans. There's absolutely no doubt that it CAN be done, as Afrikaans has successfully proved. The only question is whether it SHOULD be done. I say it should.

  • Belisarius - 2011-04-12 11:15

    Approximately one quarter of the entire world population speaks English either as a first or a second language. In countries such as China, Korea and Japan, a student will not even be able to enter university without first completing an English entrance exam - since English is considered the international language of academia, sciences and business. In countries such as Germany, Russia, Turkey and such, English language academies flourish almost everywhere (particularly in universities where students are required to achieve a certain level of English proficiency). English is a product of globalisation and is vital for trade, research and tourism. As usual South Africa is trying to move in the opposite direction to the rest of the planet. Good luck with that one ...

      Blip - 2011-04-12 11:36

      Not even one in five non-English foreigners ever bothers to learn any English. And they live long and successful lives without it.

      W H Kotze - 2011-04-12 20:07

      Your statistics are way of the mark. Untill very recently, and perhaps still now, Afrikaans was the most widely spoken and understood language in SA. Go outside the urban centres of the western Cape and English is a very foreign language, as it is in many other parts of this country: and that is the essence of van Rheede's argument.

      Zulgin - 2011-04-12 22:04

      total nonsense, I studied in germany, you have to learn GERMAN in order to study there - not English

  • Richard - 2011-04-12 11:36

    @cerveza I would be interested to know just how much German you found in the South American countries and Spanish in the Eastern European countries you mention. Inevitably whenever you travel you will find some one who speaks English even if it is only a smattering.

      cerveza - 2011-04-12 11:50

      I never claimed that people in these countries speak both German and Spanish, it is more a either or situation. In some countries they spoke Portuguese but were able to communicate in Spanish. And I can assure you that unless you only stay on the beaten tourist path, you will find very little English in most countries around the world, for example, how many tourist sites in SA have guides and information available in spanish, german and french, and how many people can speak it at your local pub or supermarket.

  • DW - 2011-04-12 12:13

    My home language is English. For various reasons, years ago I attended an Afrikaans university - all my lectures were in Afrikaans, most (but not all) books were available in English and I was allowed to write the exams in English. I sat through every lecture with an Enlish-Afrikaans dictionary on my lap. My Afrikaans improved in leaps and bounds and I was top academic student at the end of my first year and graduated cum laude. If you are taught languages properly at school you can learn to speak other languages and home language education is not a prerequisite to do well. I wish I could now find a decent tutor/facility to learn Zulu. English is an internationally recognised language. We live in a global economy. We have massive shortages of decent university lecturers as it is. If we had to have lecturers in 11 different languages as well as translate all the textbooks into these languages, no amount of taxes would be able to pay for all of this. The quality would suffer immensely as who would ensure that the standard of every lecturer, textbook and exam was the same across all languages. The logistics are totally impractical. Botswana has a single national language (Tswana) but their OFFICIAL language is English. It is time we did the same in this country. Ensure DECENT English teaching standards from pre-school level and this will enable everyone to speak the language and cope in a global economy. There is no other practical solution.

  • salomien.rudolph - 2011-04-12 12:13

    A language is a method of communication. If your language prevents you from communicating, it defeats its own purpose. If it builds a barrier around you and leaves you stranded on your own island, it is no use. You need a language that can connect the world with you, not just one section of a continent. We are a developing country. Let's develop new language skills.

  • Zion - 2011-04-12 12:16

    This is a subject which can hardly be discussed on a forum of this nature due to its complexity and depth. I would like to add to the authors statements re Television. Go through the four SABC channels up to about 20h00. It will be seen that Bantu Language programs are used predominantly with English sub-scrips. There are numerous books and magazines on the shelves for those that may feel left out. Of all the news broadcasts by all the stations SABC1,2 and 3 plus Etv the majority is in Bantu languages. It would not auger well for SA or the world were our stock exchange in Pedi. This statement may be an exaggeration but so is the article. There is a preference for black parents to place their children in white English schools. The education is better and the teaching staff are better. So if the child fails it will probably be due to the parents actions.

  • steven - 2011-04-12 12:39

    what a load of crap.... the surname says it all, what, are three syllables too much for you

  • Fabregas T - 2011-04-12 12:42

    South Africa's language problems are very unique. We don't have a single language called South African, and none of our people are willing to use someone else's language more than theirs. To me, English, is a compromise mechanism and serves as a peg on the ground to ensure we are not at each other's throats about which language to use when communicating. Being SePedi-speaking myself, I just see why I need to pay for my child to learn a language in school, that they could learn for free at home. I'd rather pay for them to learn English, French, German, Portuguese as these actually give them a REAL competitive advantage outside South Africa, as English is enough for them to communicate in South Africa in any way. Ofcourse, all other languages and heritages must continue to be celebrated by those sympathetic to them, but it just does not make any economic sense to use all of them at once.

  • XXian - 2011-04-12 13:00

    What nonsense. A poor knowledge of English is in fact "a barrier to academic excellence and limits contributions to the global knowledge pool."

  • Simon - 2011-04-12 13:04

    What, so this guy's plan is to translate all textbooks into, and train all teachers and university lecturers to speak in, all eleven of South Africa's official languages? Okay, sure. Let's just let the education system come to a grinding halt for a few years while we sort that out.

      Blip - 2011-04-13 00:36

      No. You simply TEACH all university courses in your Zulu-medium university in isiZulu. Textbooks are rather old hat now, and only the most popular primer ones will ever get written (or translated) into the vernacular. But your own lecture notes will all be written in your own language, and all the essays, tasks and exams you write will be in your own, best language. Just look at how Afrikaans did it.

  • jwill - 2011-04-12 13:13

    Your letter is true but only in theory. We don't have a country with 3 or 4 official languages.....we have 11! You are talking about equality, so how do you propose that 11 languages be treated completely equal...at all levels. This topic has been discussed at length & the same problem remains: the logistics needed to create equality for 11 languages.....it's just not feasible.

      Blip - 2011-04-12 22:35

      Then dump the "all 11". English and Afrikaans are already developed, so no work needed there. So you're down to 9. Leave out the smallest ones entirely and only develop FOUR big ones -- Zulu Xhosa Sotho and Tswana. Each one needs a university in which all courses -- even the sciences -- are taught at all levels in the mother-tongue. The university campuses are already all there -- but they teach in pidgin-English.

  • El Cid - 2011-04-12 13:33

    Funny how you had to write this article in English mein herr. Indigenous languages in SA have in fact NO economic value. You only need two languages in the world really: English and Spanish and you're pretty well covered. Y llo hablo las dos.

  • george - 2011-04-12 13:41

    I can understand the sentiment for supporting one's home language. The reality is that most European countries and then their colonies including the USA all developed together in areas of commerce, industry, technology. The required vocabulary thus evolved over time - new words and phrases emerged and there was time for them to assimilate. Many indigenous languages lack this vocab and would have to invent it overnight or borrow English words and terms that would limit their languages to social / conversational and non technical occasions. Afrikaans had some advantage in that it also slowly developed along with the pace of evolution of science and technology elsewhere, and probably had the time to create the required vocab. and even then still has to borrow English words. Today, the technological pace has so accelerated that even well established European languages probably can't keep up and have to borrow the newly evolved English terminology. Yes Afrikaans universities / institutions have had the luxury and finances to write their own books or translate, some. But, who today is relying on books for knowledge and research when new knowledge is created at such astronomical pace? One has to keep up with the internet and foreign publications. So never mind Afrikaans having a problem keeping up or being able to do that, how about our other many indigenous languages doing that? And of course there is the problem that a person who has mastered an indigenous language would have a problem communicating with others when he moves locations or provinces. That would counter the desired integration and interaction amongst the various groupings in our land. The best is to accept that English is lingua franca, and rather expend our energies mastering it. The Indians have done it in their land and look at them now. So have many, many other countries done the same where English is not their home language. Cut out the excuses and get working at it, because if you don't, you are seriously lost.

  • wiledog - 2011-04-12 21:12

    english is the language of the global village - get with it or get left behind...

      W H Kotze - 2011-04-13 00:28

      In your part of the 'village' perhaps, but the world is rather bigger than what you anglophiles may think. Try Beijing or Novosibirsk without a dictonary. If thats too far away, you may try Vredendal, but take your Afrikaans dictonary.

  • Zulgin - 2011-04-12 21:56

    It seems to me that the English people in this country live within a very small world and frame of reference, clearly they have never travelled outside the commonwealth countries, good luck with English in German, Spain, Japan, France etc. Its the syndrome where they all become comfortable in their own little world - because that is all that they know, in reality the world is becoming more bilingual not more English, I myself had to learn German because English lacked characteristics in the field of Engineering, Afrikaans itself is a very good regional language and is good for business in SA and it is also a fully developed language. I find it utterly pathetic that someone can live in a multi-lingual country and not being able to speak at least 2-3 of the languages here. You truly do limit yourself to literature and give yourself a narrow-minded world view.

  • Kevin Rack - 2011-04-13 06:02

    Who is the target market for our business. Who is our major trading partner. What is the main business languages in the world. That is the target language we should have as a secondary language in business and schools. Forget dwelling on injustice and focus on the plan for the future.

  • Kevin Rack - 2011-04-13 06:02

    Who is the target market for our business. Who is our major trading partner. What is the main business languages in the world. That is the target language we should have as a secondary language in business and schools. Forget dwelling on injustice and focus on the plan for the future.

  • Kevin Rack - 2011-04-13 06:03

    Who is the target market for our business. Who is our major trading partner. What is the main business languages in the world. That is the target language we should have as a secondary language in business and schools. Forget dwelling on injustice and focus on the plan for the future.

  • Mirrorman - 2011-04-13 07:47

    Rubbish! Bottom line: English (for better or for worse) is the world language. Text books, conferences, journal articles: all in english. By educating children in their mother tong (other than english) one is seriously disadvantaging them. I have seen this first hand doing community work in rural areas. Children are unable (or at least have great difficulty) to learn the sciences. Unfortunately the african languages are very ill equipt to handle scientific concepts. By all means: do not deprive children of their mother tongue. That would be criminal. BUT ensure that they know english fluently as this will seriously help them in their studies and in the world in general.

  • Mirrorman - 2011-04-13 07:48

    Rubbish! Bottom line: English (for better or for worse) is the world language. Text books, conferences, journal articles: all in english. By educating children in their mother tong (other than english) one is seriously disadvantaging them. I have seen this first hand doing community work in rural areas. Children are unable (or at least have great difficulty) to learn the sciences. Unfortunately the african languages are very ill equipt to handle scientific concepts. By all means: do not deprive children of their mother tongue. That would be criminal. BUT ensure that they know english fluently as this will seriously help them in their studies and in the world in general.

  • Mirrorman - 2011-04-13 07:48

    Rubbish! Bottom line: English (for better or for worse) is the world language. Text books, conferences, journal articles: all in english. By educating children in their mother tong (other than english) one is seriously disadvantaging them. I have seen this first hand doing community work in rural areas. Children are unable (or at least have great difficulty) to learn the sciences. Unfortunately the african languages are very ill equipt to handle scientific concepts. By all means: do not deprive children of their mother tongue. That would be criminal. BUT ensure that they know english fluently as this will seriously help them in their studies and in the world in general.

  • Blip - 2011-04-13 09:57

    When I sit down in a university lecture and listen and make my notes to a lecture delivered by an English-speaker speaking my own native English, I'm at one HUGE advantage to some poor sod next to me whose pseudo-English was taught to him by the product of three generations of third-language pseudo-English speaking teacher. I'm learning in my MOTHER TONGUE and he isn't. If he were learning in his mother-tongue, he might well prove to be much, much smarter than me. But he isn't, you see. He's learning in MY mother-tongue and, chances are, he'll probably flunk. One less competitor for me out in the workplace, eventually.

      Mirrorman - 2011-04-13 10:14

      Hence make sure people get taught english properly!

      Blip - 2011-04-14 03:00

      That would mean that only first-language competent English-speakers could ever become teachers. Yes, that IS a problem, isn't it?

      Mirrorman - 2011-04-14 08:42

      You are missing the point. I'm simply saying teach english to all! Some of mybest lecturers at varsity had english as there second language (and no, there were not Afrikaans). All the important text books are written in Englsish. English compenance is really really important. BUT do not forget your roots.

      Blip - 2011-04-14 21:35

      The only way to get genuine English-language competence is to spend most of your time conversing with genuine mother-tongue, first-language English speakers. Hanging around with second or third-language speakers just isn't good enough -- you'll pick up "Chinese Whispers" pseudo-English that way, and it's inferior. There simply aren't enough mother-tongue English speakers to go around.

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