n Language Matters : Studies in the Languages of Southern Africa - Building literacy for learning

Volume 33, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-5986



The majority of children in South Africa do not use their home language for learning. In the past, these children were forced to make a transition to English after four years of schooling, resulting in the stifling of the development of their home languages. It would seem that the maintenance and development of learners' home languages is a major factor in successful bilingual programmes. This is linked to the crucial relationship between language and thought and the role which this plays in the growth of concepts, both everyday and scientific, in cognitive development. It is suggested that unless scientific concepts and the abstract literacy skills necessary for successful learning are developed in learners' home languages, these learners are seriously disadvantaged. Ways of incorporating scientific concept development and cognitive academic language skills in home language courses are investigated.

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