South African students still prefer to learn Afrikaans as additional language over other African languages

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Ekonomie van Gauteng: "Gauteng het allereers sy huidige rykdom aan goed te danke, maar die provinsie is vandag ook die land se ekonomiese kragsentrale. Nagenoeg twee derdes van Suid-Afrika se ekonomiese bedrywighede vind hier plaas, terwyl vier uit elke tien van die land se fabrieksprodukte hul oorsprong in Gauteng het."

This is from almost a month ago, an article about how South African children still by and large prefer to learn Afrikaans as an additional language after English. There seem to be two major reasons:
1) Afrikaans is easier for them to learn, and/or
2) They already have an African language as mother tongue and don't need to work on it in school as well.

Here are the numbers:
The latest statistics from the Department of Education show that out of the 590000 pupils writing matric this year, 113902 will write Afrikaans as an additional language, compared with only 12 723 who chose one of the nine African languages available in the school curriculum. The vast majority, or 491104, have chosen English as an additional language.

Of those who chose additional African languages, 9756 chose Zulu, 1584 Xhosa, 679 Sotho, 9 Ndebele, 356 Pedi, 179 Tswana, 114 Swati, 14 Venda and 32 Tsonga.

Only 1023 coloured, white and Indian pupils registered for an indigenous African language. Of the 488786 African pupils sitting for the examination, 71963 chose Afrikaans as an additional language.
And now the two reasons. Afrikaans is easier:
“The verb forms in Afrikaans are much easier to learn as well as the pronouns, nouns and adverbs. At least 80% of the vocabulary in Afrikaans is also much simpler.”
Other languages are already spoken as a mother tongue:
Many who chose an African language as a subject already spoke it at home and preferred to study English as their first language. Experts maintain this is because they believe there is no need to study a language that they already speak fluently.

This might be good news for IAL advocates, that people actually will choose to learn languages simply because they are easier to learn. That's also one of the reasons suspected for the recent news that Spanish is now a more popular language to learn in UK schools than German.

And at the same time a lot of articles on Latin say that many students choose to learn the language because of the benefit it provides in understanding other languages, another strength that IALs have. All they need is some better promotion.


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