Event Title

Unusual Challenges: An Exploration of the Effects of South Africa’s Linguistic Diversity on Academic Success

Presenter Information

Thobeka Mnisi, Oberlin College

Location

Science Center A155

Start Date

10-27-2017 4:30 PM

End Date

10-27-2017 5:50 PM

Abstract

Linguistic diversity is one of South Africa’s most distinguishing characteristics. Students’ right to be taught in the official language of their choice is enshrined in the constitution. With early exposure to multiple languages, monolingualism among South African students is a remarkable rarity. Yet, this linguistic diversity sometimes serves as a hindrance to student’ ability to access academic spaces. Students who attend schools with a medium of instruction other than English and Afrikaans are greatly disadvantage in standardized national exams, which must be taken in either English or Afrikaans beyond the third grade. This research analyzes how the use of non-native languages as primary media of teaching affects students’ ability to access academic spaces. Specifically, it examines extent to which student's learning is encumbered by language barriers in rural communities of Mpumalanga, with the Mgwenya Circuit of Ehlanzeni District as a case study. The education crisis in South Africa’s rural communities is a conglomeration of numerous complex social problems that all manifest through poor academic performance. This research seeks to unravel the extent to which language barriers hinder the pursuit of a more equitable public school system.

Notes

Session II, Panel 7 - Educational | Access
Moderator: Khalid Taylor, Student Life Program Coordinator in the Multicultural Resource Center

Major

Politics

Award

Oberlin College Research Fellowship (OCRF)

Project Mentor(s)

Darko Opoku, Africana Studies

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Oct 27th, 4:30 PM Oct 27th, 5:50 PM

Unusual Challenges: An Exploration of the Effects of South Africa’s Linguistic Diversity on Academic Success

Science Center A155

Linguistic diversity is one of South Africa’s most distinguishing characteristics. Students’ right to be taught in the official language of their choice is enshrined in the constitution. With early exposure to multiple languages, monolingualism among South African students is a remarkable rarity. Yet, this linguistic diversity sometimes serves as a hindrance to student’ ability to access academic spaces. Students who attend schools with a medium of instruction other than English and Afrikaans are greatly disadvantage in standardized national exams, which must be taken in either English or Afrikaans beyond the third grade. This research analyzes how the use of non-native languages as primary media of teaching affects students’ ability to access academic spaces. Specifically, it examines extent to which student's learning is encumbered by language barriers in rural communities of Mpumalanga, with the Mgwenya Circuit of Ehlanzeni District as a case study. The education crisis in South Africa’s rural communities is a conglomeration of numerous complex social problems that all manifest through poor academic performance. This research seeks to unravel the extent to which language barriers hinder the pursuit of a more equitable public school system.