Making sense of science through two languages: a South African case study

Probyn, M.J. (2004) Making sense of science through two languages: a South African case study. School Science Review, 86 . pp. 49-59. ISSN 0036-6811



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Mzamo Senior Secondary School (not its real name) looks like any typical township school in South Africa: modern face-brick classroom blocks which conceal a serious lack of resources, material and human. Under apartheid the disparities in spending on white and African students meant hugely different teaching and learning contexts - including infrastructure, teacher training, pupil: teacher ratios and teaching materials. Today, 10 years into the new democracy and despite government’s efforts to equalize spending, the historic inequalities persist. The school is surrounded by township houses and shacks that reflect the high poverty levels in the Eastern Cape Province. Students at schools like this face an additional but less obvious problem – that of the language medium. Although in the Eastern Cape, Xhosa is the home language of 83,8% of the population and English speakers comprise only 3.7%, the official language medium in schools is English from the beginning of Grade 4 in the majority of schools. South Africa is a multilingual country with 11 official languages recognized in the Constitution of 1996 – 9 indigenous languages and the two colonial languages, English and Afrikaans.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Language-in-Education Policy; LiEP; language of learning and teaching; LoLT; language proficiency; language skills; linguistic development; language learning; South Africa
Subjects:Y Unknown > Subjects to be assigned
Divisions:Research Institutes and Units > Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA)
ID Code:1453
Deposited On:21 Aug 2009
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:20
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