‘Use our Kaapse Afrikaans in schools’

Published Jul 5, 2013


Cape Town - Kaapse Afrikaans, the language spoken by some pupils at home, should be used for essays and tests at schools, rather than the traditional version of the language.

So says Michael le Cordeur, chairman of the Afrikaanse Taalraad and head of the B Ed Programme Committee at Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Education.

Grade 12 pupils are already required to study a Kaapse Afrikaans work for their final exams and had done so for many years. “Many people do not speak standard Afrikaans at home, church and in their social lives. We must include Kaapse Afrikaans in the school curriculum so those pupils reading books can identify with the stories and characters.”

He was one of the speakers at the joint annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of Southern Africa, the Southern African Applied Linguistics Association and the SA Association for Language Teaching, which was held at Stellenbosch University this week.

Le Cordeur said it was a good start that a Kaapse Afrikaans work, Adam Small’s Ko’ lat ons sing, had been a setwork for Grade 12 since 2009 and used for final exams. “Perhaps we can do a little more.”

Small, born in Wellington in 1936, wrote in Afrikaans about racial discrimination, using satire to comment on politics.

Le Cordeur said research had found that when pupils learnt in their own languages they were able to remember their work and would do better academically.

“If you put the question papers in Kaapse Afrikaans they would do much better. We must be more free, open and inclusive.”

He said this would instill a sense of ownership and pride in pupils’ school work. “Language is a very dynamic thing, it should never be static. Language should never be a barrier to learning.”

Paddy Attwell, spokesman for the Western Cape Education Department, said Le Cordeur’s proposal was interesting but not practical.

“We are likely to continue using standard English, Afrikaans and Xhosa as the languages of teaching and learning in the province, in line with national policy. However, we will continue to celebrate the unique contribution that Kaapse Afrikaans is making to language diversity, especially in the Western Cape.”


Meanwhile another language conference will be held on Friday and on Saturday.

UCT’s African Urban and Youth Language Conference will look at language variation and change among youth in South Africa and Africa.

Organiser Ellen Hurst, a lecturer and researcher in UCT’s Humanities Education Development Unit, said the purpose of the conference was to disseminate findings of various research which had linked youth language to global culture, including hip hop. “It is a phenomenon that’s countrywide, especially in the urban centres. We wanted to find out if they could become legitimate languages outside of youth culture.”

One of the topics which would be discussed was similar to Le Cordeur’s suggestion, Hurst said. Thabo Ditsele, from the Tshwane University of Technology, was expected to propose that Sepitori, a Pretoria-based language, could be used to enhance the vocabularies of Swana and Pedi.

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Cape Times

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