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The Politics of Language Diversity

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Olivia Davies

on 1 February 2013

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Transcript of The Politics of Language Diversity

The Politics of Language Diversity Outline Issues and challenges
Coping strategies and impacts on education Conclusion - Historically, South Africa's relationship with language has been complex, and the influences of this continue to be felt
-South African Policies promote multilingualism and language rights- 11 official languages, although in practice English is commonly the language used in education etc
- The use of English as the language of instruction impedes learning and works against “education for all” policies.
- Teachers adapt to language choices by using methods like code-switching, code-mixing and translation.
- There are many barriers for black South Africans whilst trying to learn English.
- South African language policies can restrict the capabilities of a workforce and the efficiency of economic production
- The perceived superiority of English has been a major challenge to implementation of multilingualism.
- English is not the only language of international trade and so further promotion is needed of African languages.
-Despite the efforts to legislate, promote and incentivize the use of local African languages, the functionality and prestigious nature of former colonial languages always meant that in practice they will be favored and as such most African countries at macro level remains monolingual References Abdulaziz, Mohamed H. (2003). The history of language policy in Africa with reference to language choice in education. In Adama Ouane (ed), Towards a multilingual culture of education , Hamburg, Germany: UNESCO Institute for Education, 181-199

Alberts, M 2010, 'National Language and Terminology Policies -- A South African Perspective', Lexikos, 20, pp. 599-620

Alexander, N., 2005. Language, class and power in post-apartheid South Africa. T H Barry Lecture Theatre, Iziko Museum, Cape Town, 27 October 2005. Project for Alternative Education in South Africa: University of Cape Town.

Braam D, 2004. Community perception of change in a school's language policy. [Online]. Available at: http://www.praesa.org.za/files/2012/07/Paper21.pdf [Accessed 27th January 2013]

Cultural Survival, 2010. Language Policy and Oppression in South Africa. [Online]. Available at: http://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/south-africa/language-policy-and-oppression-south-africa[Accessed 30 January 2013].

Harries, Patrick. 1988. ‘The Roots of Ethnicity: Discourse and the Politics of Language Construction in South-East Africa.’ African Affairs 87: 25-52.

Hornberger N and Vaish V, 2008. Multilingual language policy and school linguistic practice: globalization and English-language teaching in India, Singapore and South Africa. [Online].
Available at: http://www.gse.upenn.edu/~hornberg/papers/HornbergerVaish2008Compare.pdf [Accessed 24th January 2013]

Kamwangamalu N M, 2002. Language policy and mother-tongue education in South Africa: The case for a market-oriented approach. [Online].
Available at: http://aladinrc.wrlc.org/bitstream/handle/1961/3456/gurt_2000_09.pdf?sequence=11 [Accessed 28th January 2013]

Mesthrie, R 2006, 'Language, transformation and development: a sociolinguistic appraisal of post-apartheid South African language policy and practice'',Southern African Linguistics & Applied Language Studies, 24, 2, pp. 151-163

Ndhlovu, F 2008, 'The Conundrums of Language Policy and Politics in South Africa and Zimbabwe', Australian Journal Of Linguistics, 28, 1, pp. 59-80

Utne, B. B., and Holmarsdottir, H. B., (2004). “Language Policies and Practises in Tanzania and South Africa: Problems and Challenges”, International Journal of Educational Development [Online]. Available: http://www.academia.edu/1601223/Language_policies_and_practices_in_Tanzania_and_South_Africa_problems_and_challenges [Accessed 26.01.13] - English is language of instruction from grade 4.
- Switch from mother tongue to English individually decided by schools – not a necessary change.
- Most teaching materials are in English
- Studies show students do not learn well with English as the language of instruction.
- English is often unfamiliar to students, and sometimes unfamiliar to teachers.
- Assumed that non-English speaking students will improve their English if used as language of instruction Context - Switch to IsiXhosa used by teachers to improve student understanding and after receiving no response.
- Code switching: switch language between sentences
- Code mixing: switch language in same sentence
- Code mixing shows lack of ability in either language
- Translations: English used first, and then repeated in the mother tongue.
- Code switching is practical and important for learning.
- Allows access, but neglected from teacher education – seen as poor teaching method Implications - Translation: everything is repeated, slows the lesson.
- English is ignored because it will be repeated in language that is understood
- “Education for all” is empty concept - linguistic environment
- Education not fair/non-biased when – use language neither teachers/learners can use well Utne, B. B., and Holmarsdottir, H. B., (2004). “Language Policies and Practises in Tanzania and South Africa: Problems and Challenges”, International Journal of Educational Development [Online]. Available: http://www.academia.edu/1601223/Language_policies_and_practices_in_Tanzania_and_South_Africa_problems_and_challenges [Accessed 26.01.13] Utne, B. B., and Holmarsdottir, H. B., (2004). “Language Policies and Practises in Tanzania and South Africa: Problems and Challenges”, International Journal of Educational Development [Online]. Available: http://www.academia.edu/1601223/Language_policies_and_practices_in_Tanzania_and_South_Africa_problems_and_challenges [Accessed 26.01.13] Utne, B. B., and Holmarsdottir, H. B., (2004). “Language Policies and Practises in Tanzania and South Africa: Problems and Challenges”, International Journal of Educational Development [Online]. Available: http://www.academia.edu/1601223/Language_policies_and_practices_in_Tanzania_and_South_Africa_problems_and_challenges [Accessed 26.01.13] Coping
•In 1955 a policy of teaching in English and Afrikaans on a 50-50 basis in secondary schools was adopted, however only 26% of schools had teachers who spoke Afrikaans.
•Individual secondary school boards were then allowed to choose their own medium of instruction, of which 95% chose to teach in English.
•However, it is argued that there are still apartheid-imposed obstacles to learning English. Even in urban areas people are separated from others, lowering the interaction with native English speakers. Furthermore, a lack of funding for black children’s education means that teachers have to use methods that allow for little individual attention.
•Therefore, due to the role of using language policy as a way to reinforce inequalities, the preferred language of teaching and learning in South Africa is English. However, there are still many racial barriers that hinder the learning for black children in South Africa. Restrictions to learning English Language policy restricting workforce Alexander, 2005 writes about how South Africa’s language policy can be seen to unnecessarily restrict the
capabilities of the workforce and the efficiency of economic production, which factors into job satisfaction
and a reduced work ethic. This is because of:
•African language speaking learners tend to do badly in examinations due to instruction and assessment
being in a second or third language. Pupils whose home language is an African language are at a
considerable disadvantage.
•Competence in the language of instruction is crucial for performance in Mathematics. “Every extra per
cent earned in the language test is associated with an addition of one-sixth of a per cent in the
mathematics test in Grade 9 and one-third of a percent in Grade 11” (Simkins and Patterson 2005:34).
•Unless African languages are given market value, i.e., unless their instrumentality for the processes of
production, exchange and distribution is enhanced, no amount of policy change at school level can
guarantee their use in high-status functions and, thus, eventual escape from the dominance and the hegemony of English. South Africa’s Language Policy Restrictions Cultural Survival, 2010. Language Policy and Oppression in South Africa. [Online]. Available at: http://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/south-africa/language-policy-and-oppression-south-africa[Accessed 30 January 2013]. Alexander, N., 2005. Language, class and power in post-apartheid South Africa. T H Barry Lecture Theatre, Iziko Museum, Cape Town, 27 October 2005. Project for Alternative Education in South Africa: University of Cape Town. Policies:
1. Historical context in relation to South Africa
2. Language debates and policies in South Africa.
3. Difficulties in implementation

Issues & Challenges:
1. Coping strategies and impacts in education
2. South Africa’s language policy restrictions
3. Perception vs Reality Historical context - Before the advent of European colonialism, the history of language policy in Africa started with the introduction of Islam in parts of North, West and East Africa, where Muslim communities emerged with basic literacy and higher education in Arabic.
- It was during European colonial rule that definite language policies were enunciated for the first time, with far-reaching, consequences for the educational, literacy, linguistic, economic and cultural development of modem African countries.
- Various, and often divergent, language policies were introduced by the Portuguese, French, Spanish and British colonial powers.
- It was during colonial rule that we see the emergence of definite language policies. Different colonial powers tended to have their own language policy as part of the ethos of their imperial attitudes
- The Germans, the British and the Dutch favoured the use of African vernaculars or linguae francae as media of education at the lower levels of education and administration. The missionaries of those countries devised orthographies, and wrote grammars and dictionaries from African languages, as a step towards developing literacy in indigenous languages.
- In the belief that French was the most cultured language, and had a civilizing mission, French colonial language policy discouraged research into or development of African languages. French was to be the only official language of administration, education and culture
- The Portuguese had an even more intolerant policy towards African languages. On the basis of their political stand that the overseas territories of Mozambique, Angola, Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde were an inalienable part of metropolitan Portugal, they took stern measures to ensure that no African languages were promoted.
- There was also the case of South Africa, where the ruling Afrikaaner nationalist party enforced a language policy that was aimed at developing their language as the lingua franca, language of education and culture, and a strong competitor with English

Abdulaziz, Mohamed H. (2003). The History of Language Policy: The Colonial Experience The African National Congress (ANC) leadership seemed at one time to be headed for a policy with English as the only official language. Language was not a great priority for the ANC in the way it was for parties representing the Afrikaner power bloc (Mesthrie, R 2006).
This brought about the dilemma about what to do with the other Africa languages.
- If English and Afrikaans were to remain as official languages, there was a strong case for some African languages to be given the same status. The classic dilemma characteristic of colonised, multilingual societies emerging into a new nationhood then presented itself: which of the African languages should be chosen? The politician's solution was to opt for all nine of the African languages that had had recognition within the homelands system. The 11-language policy was thus an 11th-hour compromise, rather than a submission emanating from any political party
THE CONSTITUTION
The new constitution, passed in 1996, placed emphasis on the link between language, culture and development in its recognition of eleven languages for official purposes. As a symbolic gesture towards national unity and language maintenance there is little room for discontent with this incusiveness. THE POLITICS OF LANGUAGE POLICY: LEGISLATION AND IMPLEMENTATION - In accordance with the Constitution and the National Language Policy Framework (NLPF) and Implementation Plan (2003), the Government aims to promote South Africa's linguistic diversity. It proposes that optimal use be made of the country's linguistic resources by fostering respect for linguistic diversity and, by implication, for linguistic rights
- Government aims to achieve this by means of an approach of functional multilingualism. This implies that the choice of a particular language in a particular situation is determined by the context in which it is used, i.e. the function, the audience and the message for which it is employed. The main criteria of functional multilingualism are language preference, use and proficiency.
- Government documents "shall be made available in all 11 official languages". In cases where this is not feasible, National Government Departments "shall publish documents simultaneously in at least six (6) official languages",
- (Webb cited by Raj Mesthrie, 2006) characterises the constitutional provisions on language as a mission statement, rather than a policy
- In order to provide for a particular medium of instruction there have to be at least 40 requests for any grade between 1 and 6; and at least 35 for grades 7 to 11. This clause, in practice, rules out several of the official languages from being media of instruction in schools drawing on a mix of pupils Implementation 2 - After 1996 constitution, there were a lot of policy and accompanying implementation plans (Mesthrie, R 2006)
- The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) was established in 1996 to give effect to the letter and spirit of Section 6 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. PanSALB is a constitutional body instituted in terms of the PanSALB Act (Act No 59 of 1995 as amended in 1999) (Alberts, M 2010).

- The National Language Policy Framework (NLPF) (final draft November 2002), was devised by DACST. The framework binds all government structures to a multilingual mode of operation. Government publications are to respect the reality of functional multilingualism
- The Language in Education Policy (LIEP), issued by the Ministry of Education (July 1997), as part of the National Educational Policy Act (27 of 1996). This document spells out a policy for languages as school subjects and as media of instruction
- The Language Policy for Higher Education (November 2002) was issued by the Ministry of Education (in accordance with section 27(2) of the Higher Education Act of 1997) places power to determine language policy in higher education with the Minister of Education. All institutions are to formulate and publicise an appropriate language policy in line with the constitutional ideals. Implementation and policy after the constitution - National government level.
The four ministries of Arts and Culture, Education, Communication, and Justice and Constitutional Development are responsible for managing language policy at the national level (Beukes cited by Ndhlovu, 2008).
- Provincial level.
There are nine provinces in South Africa and these include Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, Western Cape, North West and Limpopo.
- Local government level.
The South African Constitution ‘allows municipalities to take into account the language usages and preferences of their residents, and then formulate appropriate policies’ (Kamwendo cited by Ndhlovu, 2008). Implementation and policy after the constitution 2 In order to provide for a particular medium of instruction there have to be at least 40 requests for any grade between 1 and 6; and at least 35 for grades 7 to 11. This clause, in practice, rules out several of the official languages from being media of instruction in schools drawing on a mix of pupils
In practice however the elevation of the many African languages to the levels of English albeit legally is hard to implement .
In the short term, despite what I term the 'feel-good rainbowism' of the constitution, it was English that consolidated its position at the expense of other languages. In spite of efforts by the likes of ex- President Mandela to make occasional public speeches in Afrikaans, English came to dominate in parliament, higher education, local govemment, and institutions like the police, defence force and the courts
despite the importance of tradition and despite the rhetorical challenges to colonialism, the colonial languages are inextricably linked to modernity. In this regard the traditional African languages fare less favourably as they are the results of standardisation by missionaries in rural areas in a bygone era
(Mesthrie, R 2006,)
The hidden policy agenda of covertly retaining two official languages has been graphically captured by Satyo (cited by Ndhlovu, F 2008 )
[. . .] actually, the policy of eleven official languages in fact translates into 11-1 + 1-2. We are back to square one [. . .] we are presented not with eleven languages but rather with a menu of eleven languages from which to choose two formerly privileged languages.
Although policy pronouncements appear to be moving away from official unilingualism, there are compelling material and ideological arguments for continuing to promote and sustain English hegemony Implementation Difficulties Discussion -Should the ways in which teachers adapt their teaching methods be legitimized? Would it be better to invest in mother-tongue learning resources?

-Are African Countries in Practice Monolingual?

-If you were the South African Government what language policies would you implement in relation to education?

- Perception vs Reality Perceptions of South African People Language Policies Debates and Language Policies in South Africa Despite the increased emphasis on multilingualism, some South Africans still demand English as medium for education due to perception that it is a language of power.
In the Guateng Province, a high status was seen among those people who could speak English as they were seen as; affluent, educated and with a sense of authority.
Strong motivation for black South Africans to learn English but more out of practicality for access to better jobs and opportunities than loyalty.
Public perception of language is that a dominant language is seen as a common solution to communication problems of a multilingual society
Perception that the dominant language will solve economic and social inequality is ideology that has been ingrained in South Africa since the colonial period.
Hegemony of English caused by widespread use in media, education and governance.
Supposedly prestigious and desired yet only 9% speak English. Perceived 'superiority' of English has divided language attitudes and stigmatized other groups.


(Alexander, 2005. Braam, 2004. Hornberger et al., 2008) Reality In South Africa There are benefits at a micro level where South Africans can experience life in the mother tongue at all levels of society. For example emerging farmers applying for loans in their own language rather than English.
In the media, television programmes and radio stations have been increased to represent all 11 languages.
English may be an influential language in global trading but other languages can have competitive edge. Initiatives that target minorities require knowledge of minority language speakers.
Therefore it is helpful to be able to use language of target markets. Bilinguals are a marketable commodity and open up more opportunities.
Economic reality of trading partners. Many do not speak English as first language and so why is there such a move towards it.
English is not fully accessible worldwide and South Africans may need to incorporate other languages such as French, Swahili, Portuguese and Arabic in order to gain better trade links.
It must be remembered that English is a minority language and in recent studies it showed that 40% of South Africans didn't understand what was being communicated.
Further promotion of African languages is needed. Certified knowledge of an African language must be required for access to employment opportunities.

(Alexander, 2005. Kamwangamalu, 2002) Historical Context: Missionary work Delineation of language was a product of European attempts to understand Africa by imposing their epistemology including linguistic borders.

People believed the delimination of language was objective, based on scientific criteria, and hence infallible, so this affected power structures. However it was subjective and conjectural.

Creating a bounded written language provided a cultural marker and was mobilised to create a political following.

Written African languages were constructed by missionaries linguists in order to evangelise; for example they planned to use Sesotho as a lingua franca.

"The taxonomy used by philologists in South Africa to order their world belied the linguistic complexity that existed beyond the mission's spheres of influence."

"Shared no common language and lived in villages that were independent from each other." "I do not know how to pray. If God were able to understand Shigwamba I would try, for I cannot speak to him in Sesotho."

Produced Bible in Sesotho and later in Shigwamba. Creating a written lingua franca for the purposes of evangelising.

Missionaries could not understand the variety of dialects. Found that there was little political or socioeconomic intercourse between chiefdoms, so they never needed a common language.

A linguistic relationship was not an expression of social or latent political unity. However the system determined race according to language. Mission's dialect zones were defined by subjective social borders.

Ethnolinguistic classification was a social construct traced to 19th Century European codes of thought, influenced by theories such as social Darwinism.

Believed that Thonga language was primordial and that a common language equated to a code of thought by which people interpreted the world. They saw this as the ethos that bound the tribe. Language Policy debates in SSA Education

Reforms- Quantitative and Qualitative

Language debates concerning language of Instruction.

Key criticism is that there is “mismatch between pupil’s home languages and cultures and schools’ language of instruction and culture creates several problems that prevent learning among pupils” (Alidou)

Others argue the limits of multilingualism in education.

The Role of African Languages in a socio-economic context and political spaces. (Alidou, H. (2009) ‘Promoting Multilingual and Multicultural Education in Francophone Africa: challenges and perspectives’ in B. Brock-Utne and I. Skattum (eds) Languages and Education in Africa: a comparative and transdisciplinary analysis). "The Thonga language ought to be considered as the great bond which bound the Thonga clans together in past centuries."

Missionaries perceived a link between language and culture. The term for a hypothetical linguistic group became the name of a people conceptualised by a European mind.

They tried to standardise and codify the language, which meant imposing Thonga as the tribal language, to evangelise.

Political significance of a linguistic monopoly. People were impressed by reading as a means of communication, and as the Bible was the only vernacular literature they converted to Christianity for literacy. The mission spread cheaply through hymns in Thonga. Mission's linguistic work aimed to bring Africans to think in a 'rational' manner and perceive the world in the same way as Europeans.

Thonga literature was dominated by Christian morality. "Everything Thonga, except the language, seems to have been carefully banned from the books."

Thonga became the linguistic medium of the local African elite. Creating 'standard' Thonga simultaneously created dialects and patois; a linguistic hierarchy which had spatial political element. Core : periphery ethnic identity. Thonga was an instrument of modernisation.

Printed Thonga subverted cultural dominance of chiefs. The power of written word was much respected.

Missionaries believed "not that they had created a linguistic category, but had 'recognised the Thonga as a tribe'." Arbitrary nature of linguistic classification; the division between language and dialect was socially defined. Language Policies in South Africa “The government has a commitment for multilingualism and the promotion of language rights in all spheres of public life.” (South African Languages.com)

Not always the case- Education

The Language Policy Development in South Africa- Webb

Eleven languages can be used for official functions in the country

Government focus on language diversity, respect and equal treatment of languages, non-discrimination, measures to elevate the status and advance the use of indigenous languages, allowing variation depending on context etc.

Criticisms-Cost? Government acting contrary to Constitution? South African Language Bill- Strategic Goals 
(a)  To facilitate individual empowerment and national development (b)  To develop and promote the Bantu languages
(c)  To provide a regulatory framework for the effective management of the official languages as languages of the public service
(d)  To facilitate economic development via the promotion of multilingualism
(e)  To enhance the learning of the South African languages
(f)  To develop the capacity of the country’s languages, especially in the context of technologisation Problems of centralised Thonga. Ronga came to be recognised as a quite different language. Evangelic work could not progress without using local speech form, yet missionaries feared that a double literature would create a schism in the mission and the congregations.

They wanted a unifying language. Saw unifying properties of Sesotho, which had led to more homogeneity. Compared with European experiences.

Power struggles between missions were played out through debates over vernacular.
Some missionaries believed the concept of a unifying language was "Utopian".

Abandoning the local dialect would disadvantage the mission in its competition with other denominations. WEBB, V. N. (2002). Language in South Africa the role of language in national transformation, reconstruction and development. Philadelphia, J. Benjamins. http://site.ebrary.com/id/10022344. Harries stresses the importance of sociopolitical criteria in the definition and classification of African languages. Paradoxical role of and demand for English as a tool of decolonisation. South African constitution embraces multilingualism and raises nine major African languages to official status

"...yet with the freedom of movement accompanying the dismantling of apartheid, large numbers of African language-speaking parents seek to place their children in English-medium instructional contexts."

- Hornberger and Vaish, 2009. "By imposing their European world view and logic on the confusing array of peoples surrounding them, the missionaries had created linguistic and political categories that were derived more from their own epistemology than from any local social reality." "In the early phases of the struggle for national liberation, described colonial Lourenco Marques as 'a centre of conflict between ethnic groups and races'.
Here, then, is a classic instance of ethnic differences whose roots may be traced to an obscure linguistic debate between two Swiss missionaries." What kind of language policy does South Africa have today? What tensions/ issues/ challenges there are between national/international languages and indigenous African languages and policies References
Webb, V. N. (2002). Language in South Africa the role of language in national transformation, reconstruction and development. Philadelphia, J. Benjamins. http://site.ebrary.com/id/10022344.South African Languages.com, (2012). South Africa- Language and Education. (Online) Available at http://www.salanguages.com/education.htm (Accessed 31/01/13) Royds, L.T, Dale-Jones, B. (2012) Language Policy Lets Pupils Down. (Online) Available at http://mg.co.za/article/2012-07-27-language-policy-lets-pupils-down (Accessed 31/01/13) Harries, Patrick. 1988. ‘The Roots of Ethnicity: Discourse and the Politics of Language Construction in South-East Africa.’ African Affairs 87: 25-52.
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