Articles on African languages

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Learning in their mother tongue facilitates children’s ability to learn another language. Cecil Bo Dzwowa/Shutterstock/Editorial use only

Five ways indigenous languages can be championed for learners

The International Year of Indigenous Languages serves as a good impetus to start implementing policies that prioritises Africa's own languages.
Children at school in Mali, which is among the countries that’s prioritised mother tongue education. United Nations Photo/Flickr

Lessons from Africa prove the incredible value of mother tongue learning

Over the years, our understanding of how language and learning are linked has shifted and changed. There is ample evidence about the value of mother-tongue-based multilingual education.
Students at Stellenbosch University call for Afrikaans to be scrapped as the institution’s main language. Reuters/Mike Hutchings

Why Afrikaans doesn’t qualify for special treatment at universities

Those who don't want Stellenbosch University to make English the main language of instruction have invoked South Africa's Constitution - but the assumptions underlying their arguments are false.
Gabriel Kenny, aged five, gets to grips with Mandarin characters as part of a US school program. Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Teaching Mandarin in schools is another slap in the face for African languages

There is a new potential coloniser on South Africa's linguistic block. From 2016, Mandarin will be taught in schools – and this will see African languages bumped even further down the pecking order.
Translating notes into ‘deep’ or ‘high’ versions of languages isn’t very useful for young students who prefer vernacular, colloquial ways of speaking. Shutterstock

Simple, vernacular translations make the most sense for university students

There is little value in translating academic texts into "high" or "deep" versions of African languages. Most students read and speak their mother tongues in a far more colloquial fashion.

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