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Sample Language Policy and Planning in South Africa


There are many diverse official languages used in South Africa including Venda, Afrikaans, English, Soto, and Swazi among others and most South Africans can speak more than one language. These languages spoken are the products of socio-cultural, ideological, cultural, and historical development. This can also be the result of power, autonomy and colonial cultural influence. There are also myth and false belief that these languages are prevalent and mishandled especially in education since education has been very important in nation building and poverty alleviation.

These are the following myth; anyone who knows any of these languages can successfully teach or teach this language, Creoles cannot be used as medium in education and it is just a part of a language, It is too expensive for teacher and student to learn and develop multi languages in school, there should only be one language to use in education for the purpose of uniformity and instruction, some may also say that it is necessary to use the majority of language preferences to use as instructional basis in school. This issue creates confusion and controversy to what language really is better to use in education and other institution over others.

There are also nation’s constraint including issues like poverty and unemployment, political, health and famine and other problems that is more important rather than language policy that is why it has been left behind. All these being said and done and in fairness to the government who also considered to have an official language more than in education but for the whole country and for its people. People may think that the drive to have an official language is politicized rather than generalized.

Basically English and Afrikaans are often used in most countries in Malawi, Botswana and Mozambique that is why it is considered as the top languages to use in school and most institution but English should be more prefer because of its universal and competitive use, but some would suggest a mix of cultural majority in different languages or a mixed official languages can be used. But the willingness to perform this policy would need to be officially handled that they should create an official grammar, dictionary and literature that should be controlled and standardized which in general maybe complex because they may need to uncover its origin, cultural roots and practice in history so that it will become a symbol of nationalism and unification of countries in South Africa.

There also issues of use of Slang and street languages that cannot be included since this is not standard, codes, symbols and other literally issues should also be included before implementation. There should also be a panel or board of reviewers to handle canonical literatures and media practice orders of inclusion. The issue of verbal and grammatical error usage and how it is pronounce is also a problem for this should also be considered. All these things have created a real hard job for the minority, this variance should be met equally in all South African Nation but it will take years to develop and implement such plan.

There are also confusion in education and changes in their perception that if there is change in official language there will also be changes in sources and materials and standardized system in education to be thoroughly identified in education approach. Students and parents also ask if this language and policy can enhance and develop the education system in their communities that is necessary for nation building or it will only confuse students in their studies and waste their time and years of investment in school.

The government and policy makers are positive that it will be a great tool for nation building and student development although the language studies will take time. There are group of experts that has been delegated to perform such task, the Pan South African Language Board in collaboration with the government language planning agency and the National Language Service together they have been producing the official language policy and planning.

This will promote the most of selected languages, facilitate the transfer of official distribution of languages, and encourage the learning of indigenous language to promote cooperation, nationality and unity among people. Officially they have selected various language mixes that is most appropriate in various communities and education but basically English will be the most preferred concerned on the government perception. The implementation and facilitation after the finality will also be promoted through various media. President Nelson Mandela says that “for the first time the languages will receive the attention they deserved after years of being trampled upon in the most humiliating and degrading manner “(Sunday times, April 25, 2004)


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