Celebrate Language Activism Month

By Michelle Lorber Time of article published Feb 10, 2021

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THE Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) has numerous activities scheduled for this month (Language Activism Month). These are in keeping with this year’s theme: Fostering multilingualism for inclusion in education and society.

It is important as a collective effort to ensure languages do not become obsolete in an increasingly globalised and homogenous world. Practical multilingualism will protect mother tongue usage and also make provision for learning the language of others, preserving our culturally rich and linguistically diverse nation.

How multilingualism is being fostered in education

Processing information is a cognitive exercise, and having to process technical information in a language that you are not most acquainted with becomes even more challenging.

Studies have shown that learners are more likely to grasp concepts of a subject matter when that information is relayed in their mother tongue.

Ntombi Huluhulu from PanSALB acknowledges that the Eastern Cape Department of Education has made great strides in developing mother tongue education, a feat that was achieved in consultation with PanSALB.

The organisation commends efforts to date, but feels more still needs to be done to make this a reality for all learners in the country. Making the classroom more multilingual is not only practical, but serves to bridge the language gap within the classroom.

How young people can get involved

PanSALB will be conducting literature and poetry workshops aimed at empowering aspiring writers, particularly young people, to find their voice through writing and the spoken word.

The workshops are geared towards encouraging more indigenous languages writers. Those interested in attending the workshops can visit PanSALB’s social media pages and website for more information or contact their nearest PanSALB provincial office.

Supporting local writers

PanSALB is calling upon everyone in the country to support this initiative through various means at their disposal, such as the purchasing of dictionaries and African literature to ensure that writing in these languages becomes an economically viable option for our writers.

It’s important to support local writers as our times and history are recorded through their penmanship, says Huluhulu. She encourages South Africans to buy books written in African languages to foster the development of indigenous languages. Without support, writers will not write in their mother tongues.

Gauteng Poetry Workshop Objectives

This workshop will cover reality vs fiction in poetry and poetic analysis for African languages and, among objectives, undertakes to:

Explore publishing opportunities in poetry.

Promote and create language awareness through poetry through mass media and social media platforms.

Unearth the writing potential amongst the beginners and all aspiring writers/poets.

Provide insight and understanding in poetry as an art form.

Inculcate the poetry writing and recital with proper rhythm and intonation.

Enable attendants to enjoy the writing, studying and recitation of poetry.

Develop aspirant writers’ power of imagination.

Enhance the development and love for poetry reading and writing.

Language Top Achievers Awards

These top achiever awards are awarded to the top Matric achiever in all the official languages and are conducted provincially.

International Mother Language Day (IMLD)

PanSALB commemorates the month of February as Language Activism Month, which is a campaign centred on the International Mother Language Day (IMLD), a Unesco public observance day which takes place annually on February 21. PanSALB will be collaborating with the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and will be conducting a webinar that will be streamed live on its social media pages.

Provincial IMLD celebrations

Various IMLD virtual events will be undertaken throughout the provinces to commemorate the day. The PanSALB Western Cape Provincial office, in partnership with Iziko Museums of South Africa, University of the Western Cape, Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Swahili Language Board of Southern Africa and National Library of South Africa's Centre for the Book and Indigenous Languages Forum (ILAF) will be jointly hosting a virtual public engagement aimed at celebrating our mother languages.

The theme under which this activity will be co-ordinated is Safeguarding linguistic diversity and multilingualism. The conversation will bring together linguists, writers, poets, artists, researchers, scholars, historians, heritage practitioners, cultural activists, policymakers and the public into a virtual space of dialogue to talk about the importance of our linguistic heritage in nation-building, identity and social cohesion.

Follow PanSALB’s activities @PanSALB on Twitter and Facebook or at pansalb_za on Instagram.

You can also visit https://pansalb.org/

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