Deeply discriminatory policies such as this ended with the fall of Apartheid. Within this policy, learners or rather, their parents must choose the preferred language of learning upon admission to a school.
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Where the language they choose is not available, parents can apply to the provincial education department to provide instruction. Schools also have to choose a language for learning and teaching mathematics, and school governing bodies are required to state explicitly their plan to promote multilingualism. While this new policy is excellent in principle, in practice we still do not exercise the freedom that learners like Tsietsi Donald Mashinini demonstrated for in June We are cheating our children of their potential to excel in maths, science and technology and become full participants in the fourth industrial revolution.
In our schools, we are turning our back on the very real opportunities multilingualism offers to our learners.
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Instead, we have fallen under the spell of one language: English. In this country, the issue of language has always been interwoven with the politics of domination and separation, resistance and affirmation. If someone knows English it means that person is intelligent. It is often referred to as a universal language. While there is no systematic research evidence, it is widely held that many schools with an African student body choose English as the language of learning and teaching from the first year of schooling.
As do the parents. The bottom line is that language is political — it has implications for how social goods are, or ought to be, distributed. It is unfortunate that debates on teaching and learning in multilingual classrooms in South Africa tend to always create dichotomies that are not helpful:. In a multilingual country such as ours, teaching only in one language — whether in English or in a home language — emphasises these dichotomies, which can hurt learners in the long run.
English — one of the many languages of colonisation — continues to colonise our children. And this time, it is with our approval and collaboration.
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Really, English should be no more than one of our communication tools. It is important that we understand how multilingual teaching and learning can free our children to take their rightful place as leaders. Relying on English as the sole language of learning and teaching mathematics has not worked. Our matric results show that our children are not learning mathematics at the level they need to enter university-level science, engineering and technology programmes. If we want our children to succeed in mathematics, science and technology, we must use their home languages as a resource to help them learn these subjects.
For many African teachers and learners, English became the only possible choice for teaching and learning mathematics for a simple reason: it is the language of the textbooks and assessment. But I have used multilingual textbooks and papers with great success in the classroom.
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Learners can read a problem written in English on one side of the page and in their home language on the other side. As they worked together to consider the problem and develop answers, they used whatever language was comfortable for them. What is most interesting is that when they were asked about the lesson where this multilingual approach was used, most of the learners were not even aware what language they had used; their focus was on the mathematics they were doing.
Written texts need to be given in both the home language and English, and learners must be given the freedom to interact in any language they feel comfortable with. My research has shown that when learners are given mathematics tasks that are relevant to their daily lives, along with the freedom to use their home languages as and when they need to, they focus on discussing the problem and possible solutions in all the languages available to them. They can forget the issue of language and concentrate on learning the mathematical principles. Teachers I have worked with in my research say they want to use English in the classroom, yet they agree that multilingualism is important.
We must never look down upon different people speaking different languages. Why are we surprised at the consistent low performance of black African learners who learn mathematics in English? It is true that poor performance by multilingual learners cannot be solely attributed to their limited proficiency in English suggesting that fluency in English will solve all problems. Nor can we view the language of learning in isolation from the pedagogic issues specific to mathematics as well as the wider social, cultural and political factors that infuse schooling.
However, language plays a very crucial role in mathematics learning and achievement. Learning mathematics has elements that are similar to learning a language: you have to learn new terminology and symbols, how to use them in discussing a problem, and how to use mathematics terminology in different contexts. If children are learning mathematics in a language that is not their home language, then their task becomes even more demanding. As a multilingual society, we need to take advantage of home language as a support that our children need in learning how to become proficient in mathematics.
Researchers elsewhere in the world have also argued that children in multilingual education develop better thinking skills as compared to their monolingual peers. The question for us in South Africa is: why does the preference for English continue to dominate, even though we have a language in education policy that recognises 11 official languages and encourages multilingualism?
And the moral accountability that we ordinarily would expect to face at the Judgment, we will not have to face if we have Him as our Savior. Because on the cross the Lord Jesus Christ took the accountability for us. He took the sin and the judgment for us.
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You may find the past haunting you, but you are free. The full penalty has been paid. In Christ you are free. Accept it by faith. Second, He frees us from the power of sin. Are you a servant of sin? Are you in bondage to jealousy, to pride, to selfishness, to immorality, to gambling, to narcotics, to sinful pleasure? Is sin your master? I do not want to tell this lie.
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The very thing you say you will not do again, you do. But when we know the truth, the truth makes us free John How wonderful! As we daily, moment by moment, yield our lives to Him, He orders our lives. Satan no longer has power over us. Sin no longer is in command. Oh, to be sure, we may slip and fall, but Christ is there to pick us up and to love us.
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