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Academic Paper


Title: The importance of English communication skills in multilingual settings in Southern Africa
Author: Ingrid Mina Fandrych
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Friedrich Alexander Universitaet Erlangen-Nuernberg
Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics
Abstract: 'An account of the need for appropriate language skills in a developing multilingual context.
Language issues in Southern Africa have always been marked by political struggle. In South Africa, these were sometimes violent, as with, for example, the 1976 Soweto uprisings, in which protests over the medium of education were prominent. One of the priorities of the first democratically elected government of 1994 was to democratise the situation by making eleven languages official, in contrast to the two prior to that, namely Afrikaans and English. In other Southern African countries, language issues have also been characterised by debates and struggles. A prime example is the decision by the Namibian government to make English the official language of the country, even though English had never even been a colonial language in Namibia. Another example is Lesotho, a former British protectorate, with two official languages, English and Sesotho. In the last two decades, there have been numerous debates about the status of English as a subject necessary for a pass in schools and as a prerequisite for admission to university. Kramsch's observation that '[l]inguistic wars are always also political and cultural wars' captures the situation well. Language issues are still on many speakers' minds and influence their sense of self and identity. As Baugh observes, '[i]n societies like the United States and South Africa, where race and language development have strongly been influenced by racial strife, many students do not aspire to "talk like Whites"'.

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This article appears IN English Today Vol. 25, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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