n Language Matters : Studies in the Languages of Southern Africa - The features of 'teacher talk' in a corpus-based study of Xhosa English

Volume 37, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-5986



It has long been an accepted tenet of language teaching and language learning that teachers are key linguistic 'gatekeepers' (alongside dictionaries, textbooks and the media and so on) in entrenching the approved or 'standard' model of language that is passed on from one generation to the next. In South Africa, though, there is more than one model of English that is taught in the schools, given the complex socio-political history of the country: traditional Standard English, and various Black South African Englishes - generally regarded today as the varieties of English commonly used by mother-tongue speakers of South Africa's indigenous African languages in areas where English is not the language of the majority. This article concerns itself with a particular sub-type of Black South African English, Xhosa English, and with the nature of patterns of interaction in English classrooms where teachers are Xhosa speakers. The article is based on analyses of two separate corpora: one is a corpus of the spontaneous spoken English of mother-tongue Xhosa speakers (De Klerk 2006 provides an overview and a summary of various papers resulting from research into this corpus), and the second is a (smaller) corpus of the teacher talk of mother-tongue Xhosa speakers in the classrooms in which they teach (in schools in Grahamstown). The article explores how the norms presented by these urban, Eastern Cape teachers compare with general characteristic features of Xhosa English (as described in de Klerk 2003), as well as whether the teachers follow the same discourse patterns which characterise L1 classrooms more broadly.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error