Many people ask me for advice on how their children can learn Xhosa and can I teach them or provide materials.
I know many people, and Im talking about non-Xhosa people, who have learnt Xhosa as their first language when children or did it for AGES at school, but now can’t speak much at all.
Languages are complex codes that take a lot of our brain computer’s RAM, but our brain’s are wired to learn them, and CAN learn them easily….
We just need the right factors in place.
So what can help your kids learn and retain?
Of course exposure to the language when young is important. Any people, songs, movies, theatre they can watch when young will introduce their young brains to this other code and plant a seed of awareness at least, and hopefully of importance as they become aware how many people they share land with speak that language.
Children and adults alike will learn languages quickly, as mentioned, when they need to, when it is a priority. The time languages are consistently a priority is when one is immersed in that language. In our country of such diversity, it means spending a lot of time at a language-specific school, or in a township or rural village community. Either studying in such a school, or volunteering or getting involved in community projects and businesses. There is so much to learn in such spaces and the language and people skills developed become indispensable for the rest of one’s life.
IMAGINE if instead of ‘national service’, our children spent either an exchange year in an “other” community, or a gap year volunteering or working in a community, immersed in another language to one they know. We need this as a national project, and we needed it from 1994, or else 2022.
What children need are role-models.
I tried as QAWO (Quite a White Ou) and will continue to try further making videos, performing, talking at schools, as I have done these last 15 years, plus other ideas long dreamed and not yet hatched.
But the number 1 role model for children is their Parents and Teachers! They will follow our examples, and learn from what we prioritise, in most things.
So when adults ask me how they can get their children learning Xhosa or any vernac, I say to them: Expose them to the language, immerse them in it, and most importantly, be a part of the process, expose and immerse yourself, learn and speak yourself, and demonstrate to them that you walk your talk, and that you have valid reasons for valuing this language.
So parents/teachers/adults, we can inspire our children to do the nation building and reconciliation work our nation needs by leading by example.
Learning language in South Africa is part of the parcel of reconciliation, of combatting racism / prejudice / divisions and it is crucial for developing long lasting unity and prosperity.
If we want to go far, then we must go together. At UBuntu Bridge, we are striving to create a movement, a community of learners.
As founder and lead learner, I pledge to keep learning, teaching, creating, and doing what I can to inspire and motivate, and to make content accessible.
Yizani nifunde nathi! – Come learn with us!
Masifunde kunye! – Let’s learn together
Craig Makhosi – eKapa, on mission from 2003 – 2021