n Journal for Language Teaching = Ijenali Yekufundzisa Lulwimi = Tydskrif vir Taalonderrig - The challenge of diversity : the National Curriculum Statement and foreign languages

Volume 40, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0259-9570



In this paper I will demonstrate that the South African vision of multiculturalism as it is expressed in the National Curriculum Statement is limited and that it is not preparing young South Africans for the twenty-first century. I will argue that to achieve a broader multiculturalism, the educational system needs to further foreign languages actively. Twelve years ago, education was faced with the challenge of designing a curriculum which affirmed the diversity of South African cultures, religions, ethnic and racial groups while unifying people within this diversity. Policy was thus underpinned very firmly by the principles of multiculturalism. However, South African multiculturalism is inward-looking, it does not prepare learners for the realities of a nation composed not only of a heterogeneous population of South Africans but which also comprises a growing number of non-South Africans. South African multiculturalism must be broadened to go beyond local cultural diversity to include world cultures. Education must open learners to the Other: to South Africans of different cultural groups, as well as people of other nationalities. I will argue that this discovery of the Other and of Otherness can best be made through the learning of foreign languages.

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