African Language Learning in Schools Solution – School Xhosa

African Language Learning in Schools – School Xhosa

Molweni, Sanibonani, Dumelang, Goeie Dag, Hello

If you are here, reading this, you probably:

a)   recognize the vital and urgent power of even basic African language learning, coupled with African cultural awareness, as a way to help forge a united nation and heal wounds from our past, relating to intercultural dynamic

b)   are concerned with how we can find a way to make it relevant, convenient and effective for young scholars (the future of this country) and adult learners.

For years the debate has raged, and as recently as this morning, we have seen the headline of the Cape Times proclaim that the new policy will require an extra hour to the school day, much to many teacher’s and learner’s dismay.  The issues have been unfolding, often with controversy, for some time!

African languages have been taught at many ‘white’ (arguably where they are needed most) schools over the years and are beset by the following problems with profound consistency:

1)   lack of interest from learners (usually one or two white learners finish it for matric)

2)   teaching from teachers who have not received training on how to teach their own language as a third language (an equivalent to TEFL – we refer to our methodology and teaching style as TXTL – teaching Xhosa as a third language)

3)   old-fashioned course content, which focusses on deep, non-contemporary Xhosa, thus providing learners with very little practical reward (and thus erodes motivation and interest).

4)   grammar heavy learning, which results in scholars knowing the noun groups, but not how to greet and introduce in a way that facilitates relationship-building and enjoyment of the language.

5)   lack of cultural empathy and connection, thus reduced enthusiasm, respect and little authenticity to the learning process, something ‘white’ learners need, as language and ‘race’ issues in modern SA for whities is particularly about identity, shame/guilt, fear, arrogance, ignorance.

As an umlungu adult learner of Xhosa, and having spent much time immersed in traditional villages and modern townships, I have walked the paths (and still do) that I advocate here.
After years of experimenting and testing, we at UBuntu Bridge believe we have a very viable solution.  At the recent PANSALB Language Indaba we erected a stand which demonstrated our beliefs, and vision.  We wore t-shirts which showed our humour in innovative ways to teach and inspire Xhosa language learning and we displayed our materials and brochures.

 

We also screened demos of our Xhosa language and Culture learning Videos (demos below):
This is the summary of what we were saying at the conference:
Vision in a Nutshell:
Language Learning in SA is really about two things:

1.         PAST:  Respecting our local cultures, people and history, for proper reconciliation and healing of all our peoples!
2.         FUTURE:  Connecting our peoples across socio-economic divides, to build a nation to inspire the world, again!
Marketing and Motivation:
Language learning needs to be popularised.  It needs to compete with all the other interests and distractions out there!!  But it needs to be marketed via demonstration – videos, music, popular culture.Once you have interest, there are Three C’s you need to give learners:
·     Confidence – materials and teaching methods that focus on practical essentials!
·     Convenience – multi-platform and mobile learning tools, for adults with busy jobs and scholars with full curriculums!!
·     Cultural Context – immersion opportunities to authenticate the connection and learning process!
UBuntu Bridge has a 5-pointed plan for the situation, which we have been building and testing for 7 years of teaching on corporate, govt, school, NGO, online and public learning platforms (since 2005):
1.   Excellent and engaging materials and teaching methodology
2.   Fun and enrolling live teaching and tutoring
3.   Online, multimedia and mobile learning tools e.g. videos
4.   Online tutoring support
5.   Language and culture immersions in townships and rural villages (which stimulate local micro-enterprises)
BUT WE NEED FUNDING AND INVESTMENT!!! Please email for more information on sponsorship opportunities!
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