oa Alternation - Language policy and education in South Africa: an alternative view of the position of English and African languages

Volume 15, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



The claim that English marginalizes learners has to be seen within the complexity of language teaching and learning in a changing society. More realistically, learners who do not have an African language in South Africa are deprived of the opportunity for meaning construction within the African context that forms their life world. We argue that the problem lies more with the quality of the teaching of English. A cognitive approach to teaching ensures that we succeed in presenting English as a potentially emancipatory force in students' lives. There is no linguistic and cultural deficit among English second language learners as they have cultural capital and they have a language. No child is empty of language. Language teaching needs to be underpinned by radical and critical educational studies to ensure that it serves emancipatory interests. Freire contends that the form and context of knowledge, as well as the social practices through which it is appropriated, have to be seen as: part of an ongoing struggle over what that counts as legitimate culture and forms of empowerment (Aronowitz & Giroux 1986: 156).

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