In this article we look at the benefits of learning an African language and explore some methods on how to go about it.
The people who call South Africa home know of its culture and diversity… And the tourists know too. After all, it isn’t called the rainbow nation for nothing – we have 11 official languages!
Let’s first set things straight- If spoken language is one of the main forms of how we communicate, and we all speak very different languages, we could agree that there is sometimes a disconnect between cultures. Why not breach the language barrier by learning a new language? There are many benefits to increasing your vocabulary, besides impressing people with your insane intelligence.
- Northern Sotho
In 2011, a census was taken and the 4 most common first home languages were outlined:
- Zulu speakers consisted of 22. 7% of the South African population
- Xhosa speakers 16.0% of the South African population
- Afrikaans came in at 13.5 % of the South African population
- English speakers were a mere 9.6% of the South African population
Yet English seems to be the most dominant language in education, the most represented in media and the most spoken language in urban areas.
Hashtag- colonialism, Hashtag- white supremacy, Hashtag- eurocentrism, and the list goes on.
Whether you are a farmer, a businessman, an academic or a socialite, there are plenty of benefits that come along with learning a new language. However, you also need to beware of the struggles you might face. Being aware will prevent you from becoming disheartened when facing an obstacle and it will prepare you for overcoming that obstacle.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Learning an African Language: Yay vs. Nay” tab_id=”1481554820067-dd358df1-8a8b”][vc_column_text]
|Establishing a new hobby and achieving a new goal leaves you feeling successful.||It takes a lot of time to learn a new language, set aside a couple of hours a day/week for this or postpone it until you have more time.|
|It can be a financial asset! If you’re interested in business- knowing your clients/investors language goes a long way.||Whether paying for an institution, course or just for the resources- money plays a role in this decision. Ask yourself whether it is feasible or worth it in the end.|
|You will strengthen relationships if communication can go both ways.||You can forget the language you’ve learnt if you don’t use it for a long period. Consistent practice is needed.|
|If you are interested in education, learning the first language of your students will help them grow. Plus- you’ll grow too.||Which language to choose? Even though Xhosa is most common, African languages are place specific.|
|Make it a career– if you are interested in linguistics you can study an African language and find work that utilises that skill.||Being both a pro and a con- with African languages it is vital to understand the culture of the chosen language. More studying is needed.|
|Imagine you’re studying Anthropology or an African culture. Being able to read and understand an African language can strengthen your academics.||It’s not just about the theory; you also need face to face practice with someone fluent/ semi-fluent in the language. This might be difficult if you aren’t exposed to such resources.|
|Learning an African language and the culture behind it will enrich your life.You’ll become more knowledgeable, understanding, respectful of cultures and caring about the people in SA.||Scientifically, you can teach old dogs new tricks– it just takes longer and requires more effort. Age is a factor.|
|If you ever want to make a positive impact in various communities, knowing their language means you can communicate to support educational, financial and medical causes.|
Choose your African Language
Now that we know what benefits we can receive and what challenges we may face from learning an African language, we can make our decision on whether to pursue this new language. Make sure that you think about which African language you choose to learn. It is good to choose a language relevant to your life so that you can access this skill and make it a positive contribution to your life and the lives of others. Here are some tips to help you on your journey to linguistic success…
Study under a program or at a formal institution:
Depending on what suits you best and your reasons for learning your language, find an institution or a program to follow. If, for example, you need a qualification for work purposes than a formal qualification might be best but if it’s a hobby, then an online program would do the trick.
as you get older your brain dies – not really but it becomes less receptive to new information.
Find an LPC (Linguistic Partner in Crime):
learning together will enable you to establish a good practice routine. Like talking to each other in the desired language and writing each other letters.
There are many apps that teach you on a day to day basis. You can also subscribe to YouTube channels that offer courses and you can find a great translator online.
Change your lifestyle:
Create habits that encourage the learning of this skill.
– Create a word-of –the-day calendar and try to use that word as often as possible.
– Create word magnets for your fridge for your shopping list.
– Make games, like scrabble, that you and your LPC can play.
– Label items in your household (and work environment). E.g. Chair, Desk, Lamp etc.
– Download teaching audio tracks to your IPod or cell phone and listen to them while you jog or gym- who cares if people think you’re talking to yourself, self love is important.
While doing all these things might help you to learn your new language, you also need to make sure you have the motivation and the determination to see it through. Persistence is key, as well as goal setting. Setting REALISTIC short term goals will help you to get started. The feeling of accomplishment when you achieve these goals will also keep pushing you to succeed.
AND… if at first you don’t succeed, try again. Maybe the timing just wasn’t right.
It is important not to mistake spoken ability with intelligence. People are diverse and have different home languages. Some people may never have been exposed to your language, they may try and communicate with you in your language and come across as unintelligent due to their slow speech, broken sentences and bad grammar. This is just a language barrier. If you were able to speak their home language, you might find that they are actually highly intelligent and knowledgeable.