TET VOLUME 8 NUMBER 1

    Teaching English Today

      A project of the English Academy of Southern Africa

       www.teachenglishtoday.org

 

       

Dear colleagues

We are pleased to bring you the first issue of TET for 2018.

Please note:

  • We have edited contributions but have tried to retain the flavour and style of the originals.
  • The Academy does not necessarily endorse the views expressed by individual authors.

Maritzburg College, in association with The English Academy of Southern Academy, hosted the 3rd Conference for Teachers of English on 25 May 2018. The theme for this year’s conference was The English Teacher as a Leader.

The co-ordinator of the conference was Rodelle Govender, HOD: Languages, Arts; Subject Head: English at Maritzburg College. Grateful thanks to Rodelle for encouraging presenters to make their presentations available for publication in TET – and, of course, thanks to those presenters who did so. We have included some of the presentations here and will publish further presentations in the second issue of TET later this year.

Our next issue is scheduled to go online in November 2018. We once again invite teachers, teacher trainers, departmental officials, personnel at English-related organizations and other educationists to

  1. Send in suggestions / issues that you would like to have featured.
  2. Submit articles on aspects of teaching English in schools (both practical and theoretical), teaching tips (which can be anything from 50 – 500 words), information about teaching resources, for publication. We offer an award of R400 for the best article and R250 for the best teaching tip, provided they meet our minimum criteria of accuracy, readability and value for English teachers.
  3. Give us news about related organizations and advertisements for courses, seminars, etc. These we will publish free of charge.

You are also welcome to send us articles on English teaching which you have come across which we could share with others.

Please send these at any time – but not later than 15 October 2018 – to the Editor at drv@worldonline.co.za.

Best wishes
(Dr) Malcolm Venter: Editor

July 2018

SCROLL DOWN FOR THIS ISSUE OF TET …

 

TET VOLOUME 8 NUMBER 1: JULY 2018

 

SHAKESPEARE TODAY

Why Shakespeare should not be taught in South Africa – Chris Thurman, Wits University

Shakespeare – not on age, but for all time – Betty Govinden

SHAKESPEARE ZA

       Shakespeare ZA questionnaire

       SSOSA Youth (Schools) Application Form

 

POETRY

Teaching Poetry – Noelin Naidoo: HOD, Alexandra High School

Notes on Grade 12 HL poems (1) – J Singh: SES English Home Language

Notes on Grade 12 HL poems (2) – Noelin Naidoo

Notes on Grade 12 HL poems (3) – Noelin Naidoo

 

NOVELS

 Mother to Mother (Grade 10) – Alen Zimunya: Carter High School

 

LANGUAGE

A Case for the English Language Textbook – Mark Frank: South Peninsula High School

 

GENERAL

Like a pebble…– Bulara Manyaki

The role of mentoring from a leadership perspective – Chris Luman




TET VOLUME 7 NUMBER 2



Teaching English Today

A project of the English Academy of Southern Africa

www.teachenglishtoday.org

 

Dear colleagues

We are pleased to bring you the second issue of TET for 2017.

Please note:

  • We have edited contributions but have tried to retain the flavour and style of the originals.
  • The Academy does not necessarily endorse the views expressed by individual authors.

Many thanks to those who responded to our call for contributions.

Our next issue is scheduled to go online in April 2018. We once again invite teachers, teacher trainers, departmental officials, personnel at English-related organizations and other educationists to

  1. Send in suggestions / issues that you would like to have featured.
  2. Submit articles on aspects of teaching English in schools (both practical and theoretical), teaching tips (which can be anything from 50 – 500 words), information about teaching resources, for publication. We offer an award of R400 for the best article and R250 for the best teaching tip, provided they meet our minimum criteria of accuracy, readability and value for English teachers.
  3. Give us news about related organizations and advertisements for courses, seminars, etc. These we will publish free of charge.

We will consider a ‘prize’ of R400 for the best article / teaching tip if it meets the minimum criteria of good value for teachers and readability. (Congratulations to Bernice Borain of Maritzburg College for her note on teaching Tsotsi.)

You are also welcome to send us articles on English teaching which you have come across which we could share with others.

Please send these at any time – but not later than 20 March 2018 – to the Editor at drv@worldonline.co.za.

Best wishes
(Dr) Malcolm Venter: Editor

April 2017        

 

SCROLL DOWN FOR THIS ISSUE OF TET and click on the titles.

 

LITERATURE

IS SHAKESPEARE IRRELEVANT TO SCHOOLS

Five Reasons Why We Need Poetry in Schools

QUESTIONS ON THE ZULU GIRL

NOTES ON THE POEM FIRST DAY AFTER THE WAR

TOTSI THE NOVEL (Power Point)

CONTEXTUAL QUESTION ON HAMLET

 

LANGUAGE

FORMAL AND INFORMAL ENGLISH

 

 

WRITING

Filmmaking as a Guided English composition

 

READING

Four Teaching Moves That Promote A Growth Mindset In All Readers

 

GENERAL

How NOT to decolonize

DO THE CAPS CAP IT

CONTRIBUTIONS TO ENGLISH ALIVE

 

 

 

 

 




TET VOLUME 7 NUMBER 1

Teaching English Today

A project of the English Academy of Southern Africa

www.teachenglishtoday.org

Dear colleagues

We are pleased to bring you the first issue of TET for 2017.

Please note:

  • We have edited contributions but have tried to retain the flavor and style of the originals.
  • The Academy does not necessarily endorse the views expressed by individual authors.

Many thanks to those who responded to our call for contributions.

Our next issue is scheduled to go online in October2017. We once again invite teachers, teacher trainers, departmental officials, personnel at English-related organizations and other educationists to

  1. Send in suggestions / issues that you would like to have featured.
  2. Submit articles on aspects of teaching English in schools (both practical and theoretical), teaching tips (which can be anything from 50 – 500 words), information about teaching resources, for publication. We offer an award of R400 for the best article and R250 for the best teaching tip, provided they meet our minimum criteria of accuracy, readability and value for English teachers.
  3. Give us news about related organizations and advertisements for courses, seminars, etc. These we will publish free of charge.

We will consider a ‘prize’ of R400 for the best article / teaching tip if it meets the minimum criteria of good value for teachers and readability. (Congratulations to Sue McIntosh, who will receive the reward for her articles on Tsotsi in the current issue of TET.)

You are also welcome to send us articles on English teaching which you have come across which we could share with others.

Please send these at any time – but not later than 26 September 2017 – to the Editor at drv@worldonline.co.za.

Best wishes
(Dr) Malcolm Venter: Editor

April 2017        

To locate the latest issue of TET:

  1. Go to the website (www.teachenglishtoday.org).
  2. Find ‘Recent posts’ top left of the website.
  3. Click on ‘TET VOLUME 7 NUMBER 1’ below this.
  4. Scroll down to find the articles.

 

LITERATURE

BRIDESHEAD REVISITED

FUGARD TRANSFORMS ART INTO LIVED REALITY – TEACHING TOTSI TO GRADE 11s

BACKGROUND ON TSOTSI

SAMPLE QUESTIONS FOR TESTS AND EXAMS Tsotsi (3)

TEACHING NOTES ON CRY, THE BELOVED COUNTRY

How to teach The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.docx

THE CRUCIBLE.docx

Teachers Shake Up Shakespeare with Digital Media

Shakespeare in South African schools

Kids Feel the Power of Poetry in Performance

Notes on REMEMBER by Don Mattera

 

LANGUAGE

AN INFORMAL NOTE ON GRAMMATICAL CONCORD

WHAT IS CORRECT ENGLISH

 

READING

TWO ARTICLES ON READING

 

 

 

 

 




TET VOLUME 6 NUMBER 2

Teaching English Today

A project of the English Academy of Southern Africa

www.teachenglishtoday.org

Dear colleagues

We are pleased to bring you the second issue of TET for 2016.

Please note:

  • We have edited contributions but have tried to retain the flavor and style of the originals.
  • The Academy does not necessarily endorse the views expressed by individual authors.

Many thanks to those who responded to our call for contributions.

Our next issue is scheduled to go online in April 2017. We once again invite teachers, teacher trainers, departmental officials, personnel at English-related organizations and other educationists to

  1. Send in suggestions / issues that you would like to have featured.
  2. Submit articles on aspects of teaching English in schools (both practical and theoretical), teaching tips (which can be anything from 50 – 500 words), information about teaching resources, for publication. We offer an award of R400 for the best article and R250 for the best teaching tip, provided they meet our minimum criteria of accuracy, readability and value for English teachers.
  3. Give us news about related organizations and advertisements for courses, seminars, etc. These we will publish free of charge.

We will consider a ‘prize’ of R400 for the best article / teaching tip if it meets the minimum criteria of good value for teachers and readability.

You are also welcome to send us articles on English teaching which you have come across which we could share with others.

Please send these at any time – but not later than 31 March 2017 – to the Editor at drv@worldonline.co.za.

Best wishes
(Dr) Malcolm Venter

Editor

November 2016 

                                   

SCROLL DOWN TO FIND THE ARTICLES.

Each time click on the PDF (nderlined) title of the article.  Then click on the reverse button (top left) to return to the index.

 

ENGLISH ALIVE:  An anthology of high school writing

how-to-use-english-alive-50-in-the-classroom

calling-for-submissions-to-english-alive-2017

 

DID YOU KNOW?

dictionary-of-south-african-english-on-historical-principles-now-available-online

new-book-on-south-african-english

english-fal-website

 

READING AND WRITING

reading-essential-for-learnng-how-to-write

art-of-essay-writing-damaged-by-twitter-and-facebook

 

TEACHING NOTES

The Picture of Dorian Gray:

teaching-notes-on-the-picture-of-dorian-gray teaching-notes-on-the-picture-of-dorian-gray

 

The life of Pi:

teaching-notes-on-the-life-of-pi

worksheet-on-the-life-of-pi

Hamlet:

contextual-questions-on-hamlet

Macbeth:

teaching-notes-on-macbeth

 

TEACHING TIP

teaching-english-via-empathy

 

DISCUSSION ISSUES

the-ripple-effect-approach

demythologising-school-exams-saheti-article-for-business-day-2016

shakespeare-must-fall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




TET IS BACK!

Happy birthday to the Bard on 23 April!

 

TEACHING ENGLISH TODAY RE-LAUNCHED

Read more:

Click on 'Volume 6 of TET launched' below:

Volume 6 of TET launched

 

INDEX: TEACHING ENGLISH TODAY April 2016

(Articles appear below the Index.)

 

LITERATURE:

guy butler

  Themes  

   in Hamlet                                                  

      – Guy Butler

hamlet small

   Teaching image patterns

    in Hamlet                        

       – Hilary Semple

hamlet-320x203      

     Essay questions on Hamlet                

get_thee_to_a_nunnery___hamlet_by_marikorose-d399i91  

   Contextual question on Hamlet

Lord of the Flies  (1) Contextual question on

         Lord of the Flies

  (2) A comment on

         Lord of the Flies                             

                                                    –  Jean Shannon

plays

    A play in day                                                

            – Helen Lockyear

shakespeare  

   Resources for

   teaching Shakespeare

totsi

          (1) Teaching Tsotsi 

          (2)  Discussion questions on Tstosi                                           

unseen poetry   Unseen poem for Grade 12

   

WRITING:

writing skills    Improving

    writing skills                                      

      – Jeffrey Solomon

 

 

LANGUAGE:

tenses in english

   Teaching verb tenses   

    (with Power Point presentation)                                        

     – Sue Macintosh

texting    Duz txting

    hurt yr kidz gramr?

figures of speech    A rough note on teaching

    figures of speech  

    (with Power Point presentation)    

                                                           – Malcolm Venter

teaching english   Critical awareness of teaching English today       

          – Bully Monyaki

teaching-tips (1) Teaching Tip: Dealing with

      vocabulary

(2) Teaching Tip: Hot off the press –

      using bill boards 

                                                           – Andrew Graaf

barbara hathorn   English at Once

    worksheets                                   

         – Barbara Hathorn

         

GENERAL:

english resources  Resources for

  FAL English teachers

error  The language of learning

   and teaching            

         – Anne Peltason

anne condy  Being human

  today                                           

       – Anne Condy

teachers     Why so little about   

     teachers?                            

                  – Laurence Wright

ROBIN MALAN    Non-academic

   or C-stream English                    

           – Robin Malan

SCROLL DOWN TO FIND THE ARTICLES … CLICK ON THE LINKS. (Use the reverse arrow on your computer to return to the list.)

Themes in Hamlet

Teaching image patterns in Hamlet

Essay questions on Hamlet

Contextual questions on Hamlet

Contextual question on Lord of the Flies

A Play in a Day

Resources for teaching Shakespeare

Teaching Tsotsi

Discussion Questions on Tsoti

Unseen poem for Grade 12

Teaching Verb Tenses

  Teaching Verb tenses Power Point

Duz Txting Hurt Yr Kidz Gramr?

A rough note on teaching figures of speech

  A rough note on teaching figures of speech Power Point

Critical language awareness for English today

Teaching Tip – Dealing with vocabulary

Teaching Tip – Hot off the press – Using bill boards

ENGLISH AT ONCE WORKSHEETS

Once 2016 Jan 27 SP worksheet 1 Bavuma

Once 2016 Jan 27 SP worksheet 1 TEXT Bavuma

Resources for FAL teachers

The language of learning and teaching

Being human today

Why so little about teachers

Non-academic or C-stream English

 

 

 

 

 




ENGLISH IN SOUTH AFRICA – A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD (5)

Herman Visagie

PGCE student, Stellenbosch University (2010)

Graham Bam puts the main problem plain and simply in a letter to the Cape Times:

The debate about the use of English as a medium of instruction is going nowhere.

No more research, theories or proposals.  We are running out of time.  We have to make a decision.  Yes, Jonathan Schrire (in a letter to the Cape Times) is right when he says that ‘this is an important education debate which has serious consequences if we get it wrong’.  We know the pressure is on, but we have to choose a policy regarding languages in our schools and start implementing it without looking back.  It’s time to go back to basic decision-making and look at all the positive consequences and all the negative consequences of the different options.  Although decision-making of this magnitude is never that simple, wasting more time on this debate is only causing more harm, making the decision harder and the ramifications more serious.

As I see it, at the moment we have two major proposals each with its own fan base.  First, we have the people who want English to be our medium of instruction in all of our schools.  On the other hand we have the people supporting home language (or mother-tongue education).  Last but not least, as with all decision-making, there are those few individuals that are voting for both, always looking for a midway, the best of both worlds.

The beautiful irony of this debate is that the supporters of both English-medium and the mother-tongue supporters feel that their course of action or proposal is crucial for our country’s academic, economic, politic and social survival.

For the English-medium followers it is obviously better to have English as the medium of education in our schools to give our learners the necessary English proficiency to be able to get educated at tertiary level and to go even further and compete academically on international level.  This argument makes sense since English is a global language and all the necessary academic books and articles are available in English.  However, the mother-tongue supporters’ argument is just as valid.  According to them and recent research, there is definitely a relationship between language and the cognitive development of children.  In simple terms, this means that anyone that is not English will be disadvantaged if they do not receive education in their home language because concepts would be much harder for these children to grasp than for a person who home language is English.  This is just not fair and is especially worrying since only a small portion of South African citizens are actually English-speaking.

According to the English-medium, group it would be beneficial for the country’s economy to have English as our schools medium of instruction.  This means there will be no need to train teachers to be efficient in any of the country’s other official languages; it means there is no need for new translated textbooks.  The mother-tongue group feels differently. They believe that it would be financially bad for our country to get so many teachers educated in English because not only do the teachers need to be capable of teaching second- or third-language learners but all teachers would also need to be English proficient, even the maths and science teachers, to help the second- or third-language learners to understand the subject specific languages and the content in order to fully grasp the different concepts.

The mother-tongue advocates argue that it would be without doubt politically incorrect to make English the medium of instruction.   They feel this way because it is in direct contradiction to our country’s law that says that all eleven languages in South Africa are officially equal in status, therefore they must also be equal in practice.  Their opponents say that it would only complicate our political interactions locally and internationally if we isolate ourselves by all communicating in different languages.

The first-language education group do not want to lose the uniqueness of our country and this is a possibility if home language is not taught in schools because without teachers’ positive promotion of home languages in school they would eventually not be spoken any more and the culture and traditions they represent would get lost; and that would lead to losing the diversity which makes our country unique.  On the other hand, the mother-tongue approach would make communication so much easier in the long run and might even create unity in the future.

Yes, these are all valid arguments on both sides, but this essay is not to make a decision or to convince you which approach is better and why, but rather to give a wake-up call to all, especially those focusing on the harmful consequences of each approach, to rather look at all the negative consequences of the time we are busy wasting on this debate.  I am not saying it’s an easy decision to be made by any means, but it is necessary every once and a while to look at what damage the debate and the time spent on this debate is doing to our country, our schools and most importantly our children.

English is one of the major global languages.  English also happens to be the only major language to be found in the eleven official languages in South Africa.  Therefore it makes sense that English has become South Africa’s lingua franca because of its usefulness internationally.  This, however, has positive and negative consequences for our country.  On the one hand, it is undeniably positive because it enhances our international or global communication ability.  On the other hand, it also poses a possible threat of our neglecting our other ten official languages and their associated cultures and traditions.

English, in becoming the South Africa’s lingua franca, poses the same threats as English becoming a world-wide common language, since our country’s rich diversity could be damaged by neglecting our other ten official languages.  It is because of this negative consequence that all ten official languages in South Africa are regarded as equal in status to English.  This, however, is only true in theory.  Although all of our ten languages might be considered according to law as being equal, the dominant language still remains English although it is only the home language of a small portion of South Africans.

This spills over to education.  It is well known that English is internationally the most predominant and significant academic language.  This is seen in the fact that the majority of books in our libraries are in English.  This academic value that English brings with it puts pressure on tertiary education institutions to use English.  This again then has a ripple effect:  Our school education needs to be in English so that the learners can be competent enough in English to succeed academically at Universities and other tertiary level education.

Therefore English in schools is something that needs a lot of consideration.  If the relationship, shown by research, between mother-tongue instruction and cognitive development is taken seriously it is obvious that being taught English when it is not your home language, which is the case in most of our schools today, causes a problem of inequality between learners with different home languages.  Research has shown that it is more beneficial for a learner with a mother tongue other than English to switch to a programme of instruction in English at a later stage after their mother tongue has been fully developed.  This, however, is more easily said than done.  English, and the empowerment it brings with it, forces learners to join a programme of instruction in English at a much earlier stage than is best for their cognitive development.  The other reason for this premature switch to English for English second-language learners is the fact that some domains or schools do not provide any form of education in their mother-tongue.  One of the many suggestions being made by many groups such as, among others, the English Academy of Southern Africa is that, although a longer period of mother-tongue instruction is recommended for better cognitive development, it is also important that these home languages (if not English) ‘should be accompanied by a carefully worked out programme of instruction in English as a language subject that will enable the switch to English as language of learning to be easier’.  The English Academy of South Africa also lays a lot of emphasis on ‘English across the curriculum’ where all the subjects are involved in the teaching of English and not just the English language period.  One of the main concerns is the decline in the number of teachers qualifying to teach home languages other than English.  Provision has to be made for these learners that do not speak English as their mother tongue.

All this emphasis on second-language education poses another threat:  this time it is the possibility of neglecting English first-language learners in order to help English second-language learners come to terms with English.  These are common problems in multilingual societies.

Therefore it is important to find a balance between the short- and long-term advantages of home-language education along with English second-language education.  Yes, there are going to be some short term disadvantages because of the lack of adequate textbooks and competent teachers in indigenous languages, but being educated in their home language will help learners with their cognitive development and help to form a linguistic basis on which English as a second language can be built.  Our first priority should be to get the necessary textbooks and teachers in all the eleven languages and create a programme that focuses specifically on English as a second language without neglecting English as a first language.  Yes, this still leaves English as the dominant language in South Africa, but let us try to forget about the negative associations of the past and focus on the future of our learners and what is best for them.

References:

Bam Graham: ‘Mother tongue matters’. Letter to the Cape Times, 22 January 2010.

English Academy of Southern Africa: English in a multilingual situation (published on the English Academy website)




ENGLISH IN SOUTH AFRICA – A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD (6)

Louis Barnard

PGCE student, Stellenbosch University (2010)

Greater attention to language education in multilingual schooling is vital if we are to achieve national unity and social reconciliation through the removal of legacies of linguistic inequalities and prejudices that underpinned the racism of our past (Young, cited in Heugh, Siegrühn & Plüddemann 1995: 111).

Owing to the notion that language education in South Africa is reliant on the country’s multilingual and multicultural context, it is imperative to position language as a cultural phenomenon. Viewed from this perspective, it is necessary to think in terms of Michel Foucault’s ‘critical ontology of ourselves’ which, according to Lize Van Robbroeck, ultimately points towards ‘… exploring the boundaries and underpinnings of current and historical discourses with the tentative intention of proposing possible ways of going beyond those limits’ (2006: 16).[1] It is through this analytical conceptualisation of ‘ourselves’ – all members of the so-called ‘rainbow nation culture’ – through which multilingual language policy and its confluence with educational and didactic institutions in South Africa should be discussed. On the whole, this essay refers to the position of the English language in South African schools and its dissemination within the post-apartheid milieu. Furthermore, this essay includes a brief historical account of English in South Africa, its status as ‘official’, and how the former apartheid era’s language policy proved extraneous to current language strategies.

According to the Encyclopaedia of Nationalism Volume II, ‘Language is a crucial element of culture because it is part of it at the same time that it is endowed with the ability of naming it’ (Motyl 2001:282). Apart from history, religion, rituals and numerous other ‘nation-building blocks’, language is a primary socio-cultural unit in the process of national construction.[2] A nation’s identity resides in the preconceived notion that language is a defining characteristic of nationality (Fishman 1972: 3). The concepts of linguistics and national identity are notably ‘equal forces’, as language plays an essential role in the process of evoking nationalist fervour. The collusion of language and nationalism creates ‘… powerful and often pathological allegiances to a cultural ideal’ (Boswell & Evans 1999: 1).[3] Multilingualism is the new cultural ‘exhalation’ of South African language policy. In order to understand the position of English within South African nation building, various social and historical ‘fixtures’ of the language need to be considered.

One should note that, through British colonial expansion in South Africa, English achieved ‘high status’ as it was declared the ‘… sole official language of the Cape Colony in 1822’ (Gough 1996: 3).[4] In the Colony, English was initially used for the advancement of religious instruction by introducing the Anglican faith to so-called ‘natives’ and settlers. Numerous English-Anglican mission schools such as St Cyprians at the foothills of Table Mountain were founded by Bishop Robert Gray, the first Anglican Bishop of Cape Town in 1871 (http://www.stcyprians.co.za/?m=2&s=1). Furthermore, the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 ascribed English with national status along with Dutch as official languages.[5] [6] This language policy continued throughout the epoch of the Afrikaner nationalist regime until its eradication in 1994.

During the height of Afrikaner nationalism, language-in-education policy mirrored apartheid ideology in general (Barkhuizen & Gough 1996: 453). The South African school system incorporated a segregation scheme which was not only based on ethnicity, but also language usage. According to Barkhuizen and Gough, white children were instructed exclusively in either English or Afrikaans, while black learners were expected to be instructed in both of the official white languages including an African language (Barkhuizen & Gough 1996: 454).[7] [8] Within this scheme, colonial languages such as English were endorsed with ‘power’ by being sanctioned as the only means to education and societal access. Black languages were merely categorised as languages of everyday interaction and solidarity within ‘native’ communities (Barkhuizen & Gough 1996: 453).

Ultimately, the social deficiencies caused by apartheid education among black learners led to the decline of indigenous African languages. Barkhuizen and Gough state that black educators received insufficient training for such a language policy and to instruct in both English and Afrikaans became problematic (Barkhuizen & Gough 1996: 454). Furthermore, black schools received little funding for educational resources in order to support this policy. These afflictions imposed upon African languages caused political and incremental ripple effects which reverberate in post-apartheid South Africa.

The former racist notion of demarcating languages is irrelevant to South Africa’s continuous transition into egalitarianism. The reconstruction and repositioning of national consciousness affirm the ideological disposition of the ‘new’ South Africa as a ‘rainbow nation’. Consequently, educational language policy was reorganised to meet the social needs of multilingualism and linguistic equity.[9] According to the South African constitution, the aim of education is to take practical and positive measures to elevate the status and advance the use of all the eleven official languages of the Republic (http://www.southafrica.info/about/democracy/constitution.htm).[10] Within this officially recognised ideal, the place of English amongst these official languages needs to be investigated.

An obvious statement would be that all other South African ‘mother-tongue’ languages are not English. Similarly, varieties of English used by white, black and coloured South Africans differ from so-called ‘standard’ British and American English usage and are continuously regarded as either acceptable or substandard by numerous South African academic circles.[11] According to Lanham, there are at least five native and non-native varieties of South African English (cited in Van Der Walt 1998: 43).[12] Also, English is expanding globally, constituting an opportunity for enhanced communication by being the most significant international academic language (The English Academy of South Africa 2009: 1). These notions, combined with the historical traces of English in South Africa, create the palimpsest whereupon English is currently positioned[13]. These conceptions could indirectly undermine the constitutional ideal of language ‘even-handedness’ and add to the former perception that English is ‘superior’ to other languages. The position of English in South African schooling and beyond becomes a discursive paradigm.

According to The English Academy of Southern Africa, numerous challenges for the English language are presented by our multilingual situation (2009: 1). One could argue that English in South African education has become a ‘double-edged sword’ seeking balance between socio-political language justness and the evident global augmentation of English as an international communicative medium. On the one hand, the language has global appeal, whilst on the other, it could possibly be hazardous to other languages and their connected cultures (English Academy 2009: 1). As a useful, world-wide common language, the ‘boundary-hopping’ nature of English is gradually acquiring linguistic dominance which may be resented by its users. This situation pertains to South Africa, where English is the relative lingua franca or ‘linking language’ used for wider communication (Dirven, cited in Van Der Walt, Evans & Kilfoil 2009: 7).[14] The English Academy of Southern Africa declares:

… while English nominally enjoys equal status with ten other languages, it is patently indispensable in many spheres of national life, and citizens lacking it may find themselves disempowered in certain linguistic domains (2009: 1).

It is vital for educators in South African schools to be responsive to wider economic and socio-linguistic matters within their curriculums. Ian Moll refers to the concept of ‘curriculum responsiveness’ which ultimately suggests a positively formulated ‘benchmark’ against which ‘… we might be able to judge whether our education programmes are meeting the needs of a transforming society’ (cited in Griesel 2004: 1). These responses regarding English education (concerning second-, third- and mother-tongue language users) should provide a platform on which the usefulness of English as a world language is built, whilst affirming the significance of ‘native’ languages. English language learners need to be aware that one language is not superior, or more sophisticated, than another. Therefore, language must be repositioned as not only being a uniquely cultural phenomenon, but also as ‘… a tool, and the only criterion it needs to meet is that it serves the needs of its speakers’ (Van Der Walt, Evans & Kilfoil 2009: 17).

The Revised National Curriculum Statement suggests an ‘additive approach’ to multilingualism in South African schools. This approach provides a policy whereby school governing bodies are responsible for selecting school language policies that are ‘… appropriate to their circumstances and in line with the policy of additive multilingualism’ (http://www.info.gov.za/view/DownloadFileAction?id=70257). Here, learners are encouraged to learn their home language and become competent in an additional official language. A second additional language may be learnt by choice.[15] The notion is that, if learners become proficient in their home language as it develops and matures, this will build a literacy which could be transferred to their additional languages. In other words, if the additional language is English and the home language is isiXhosa, isiXhosa will form the ‘literacy base’ whereupon English could be developed.

I agree with this approach to proficiency in the mother tongue as an accelerator for learning other languages.  However, this approach does not stress the distinct usefulness of English. Schools in certain domains and regions could potentially exclude English from their curriculum.  School governing bodies selecting language policies should be aware of the role of English in local and global society and not undermine its communicative role as an international lingua franca. Schools should also be aware that ‘non-English’ home language as a medium of instruction in all school subjects could become problematic as there are not enough resources published in African languages. Some critics state that mother-tongue education should be diminished and English should be implemented as the official language of instruction through total immersion in the language. Otherwise

… we would end up with a country which produces no internationally recognised engineers, doctors, scientists, technologists or mathematicians. That would finally bring down the curtain on this country (Schrire, The Cape Times 2010: 9).

The socially-discordant effect of such direct methodologies undermines the new South African ideal of producing a nation whose identity is founded on tolerance. English should not contribute to monolingualism in the classroom and in turn breed ‘ethnolinguistic intolerance – racism in another guise’ (Young, cited in Heugh, Siegrühn & Plüddemann 1995: 108, 109). The English language should be freed into the open eclecticism of a multilingual South Africa.

Bibliography:

Alexander, N. 1997. ‘Debates: Language Policy and Planning in the New South Africa’. African Sociological Review, 1997 – codesria.org [PDF].

Anderson, B. 1983. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Original Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso Editions and NLB.

Barkhuizen, G.P. & Gough, D.H. 1996. ‘Language Curriculum Development in South Africa: What Place for English?’ TESOL QUARTERLY Vol. 30, No. 3, Autumn 1996.

Boswell, D. & Evans, J. 1999. Representing the Nation: A Reader. New York & Toronto: Taylor & Francis Group.

Fishman, J.A. 1975. Language and Nationalism: Two Integrative Essays. Rowly, Massachusetts: Newbury House Publishers.

Gough, D.H. 1996. English in South Africa. A dictionary of South African English on historical principles, 1996 – ru.ac.za [PDF].

Griesel, H. 2004. Curriculum Responsiveness: Case Studies in Higher Education. South African Universities Vice-Chancellors’ Association.

Heugh, K. 2000. ‘The Case Against Bilingual and Multilingual Education in South Africa’. PRAESA Occasional Papers, 2000 – uct.ac.za [PDF].

Heugh, K., Siegrühn, A. & Plüddemann, P. 1995. Multilingual Education for South Africa. Johannesburg: Heinemann.

Motyl, A.J. 2001. The Encyclopaedia of Nationalism Volume I. Orlando, Florida: Academic Press.

Motyl, A.J. 2001. The Encyclopaedia of Nationalism Volume II. Orlando, Florida: Academic Press.

Nordquist, R. 2010. Standard British English. Available from: http://grammar.about.com/od/rs/g/standbriteterm.htm (Accessed 7 February 2010).

Schrire, J. 20 January 2010. ‘English is Crucial’ (Letter to the editor). Cape Times.

The English Academy of South Africa. ‘English in a Multilingual Situation’. June 2009 (Available on website).

Van Der Walt, C. 1998. ‘Justifying their Existence: South African Varieties of English’. English Academy Review, 1998 – informaworld.com [PDF].

Van Der Walt, C., Evans, R. & Kilfoil, W.R. 2009. Learn 2 Teach: English Language Teaching in a Multilingual Context – fourth edition. Pretoria: Van Schaik Publishers.

Van Robbroeck, L. 2006. Writing White on Black: Modernism as Discursive Paradigm in South African Writing on Modern Black Art (University of Stellenbosch: Dissertation presented for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, April 2006).

Woolfolk, A. 2010. Education Psychology – Eleventh Edition. New Jersey: Pearson Education International.

http://www.southafrica.info/about/democracy/constitution.htm 2010. SouthAfrica.info: The Constitution of South Africa. (Accessed 8 February 2010).

http://www.stcyprians.co.za/?m=2&s=1 2010. St Cyprian’s School: About us. (Accessed 10 February 2010).

http://www.info.gov.za/view/DownloadFileAction?id=70257 2010. Revised National Curriculum Statement. (Accessed 12 February 2010).


[1] The philosophies of Michel Foucault refer to ‘constructionism’, which is concerned with how public knowledge in disciplines such as history or language is constructed (Woolfolk 2010: 312). Furthermore, constructionists such as Foucault are interested in how so-called ‘common-sense’ ideas, everyday beliefs and commonly held understandings about people and the world are communicated to members of socio-cultural groups (2010: 312).

[2] It is important to recognise nationalism as a social ‘construct’ where members of a nation ascribe nationalist meaning and attach particular value to cultural ideals such as history, language and religion. According to Ernest Gellner, “Nationalism is not the awakening of a nation to consciousness: it invents nations where they do not exist” (cited in Anderson 1983: 15).

[3] To justify the claims above, one could refer to Afrikaner nationalism and how it was preoccupied with the Afrikaans language being a “spiritual exhalation of the [Afrikaner] nation” (Fishman 1972: 49). According to J.G. Von Herder, the Afrikaner felt that “… language ought to be worshiped and preserved from foreign contamination” (cited in Motyl 2001: 282). Evidently, Afrikaner nationalists felt threatened by ‘the other’ languages in South Africa. By and large, Afrikaans as a ‘high status’ language had to be ‘sealed’ from the infiltration of English and other South African languages. According to Neville Alexander, the former apartheid regime’s National Party (Christian National Education) policy, instigated that various non-Afrikaans ‘language clusters’ and ‘sub-groups’ were to be “systematically kept separate” (Alexander 1997: 2). Deduced from this perception of how language becomes ‘symbolically’ synonymous with a specific group of people, it may be assumed that various groups would ascribe noteworthy status to ‘their’ language as predominant to other languages.

[4] The roots of South African English extend before formal British colonisation and the occupation of the Cape in 1795. Various encounters between native inhabitants of southern Africa with English people, including English sailors, explorers and traders, assisted in English being transplanted into Africa (Gough 1996: 2). Subsequent to Britain’s initial occupation of the Cape Colony, numerous British immigrants from various social classes in Britain settled along the Eastern Cape frontier (Gough 1996: 2). Here, a colonial ‘melting pot’ fused various English dialects and produced new linguistic systems and varieties.

[5] This Union, united the former Boer republics of the Transvaal and Orange Free State with the Cape and Natal colonies (Gough 1996: 2)

[6] Dutch was later replaced by Afrikaans in 1925 (Gough 1996: 2).

[7] “The fact that English speakers had to attend English schools, and Afrikaners, Afrikaans schools created a division within the privileged White group itself” (Barkhuizen & Gough 1996: 454).

[8] “Integral to the motivation of this policy appeared to be the perspective that Blacks had to function as effective servants of the White state and therefore had to be competent in both official ‘White’ languages” (Barkhuizen & Gough 1996: 454).

[9] “Apartheid language policy infused with unequal language proficiency demands for school pupils in the country was replaced in 1997 with a new policy based on non-discriminatory language use and the internationally accepted principle of mother tongue education in the context of a bilingual or multilingual framework” (Heugh 2000: 3).

[10] The eleven official languages of the new South Africa are Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa and isiZulu (http://www.southafrica.info/about/democracy/constitution.htm)

[11] “[D]uring the 18th and 19th century’s publishers and educationalists defined a set of grammatical and lexical features which they regarded as correct, and the variety characterized by these features later came to be known as Standard English. Since English had, by the 19th century, two centers, Standard English came to exist in two varieties: British and US. These were widely different in pronunciation, very close in grammar, and characterized by small but noticeable differences in spelling and vocabulary. There were thus two more or less equally valid varieties of Standard English-British Standard and US Standard. . . .” (Melchers and Shaw, cited in Nordquist 2010: 1)

[12] Christa Van Der Walt suggests a “…multistandard approach or restandardization”, which implies an official recognition of South African varieties of English (1998: 43).

[13] The word ‘palimpsest’ comes from Latin and Greek meaning ‘to scrape clean and use again’. A palimpsest could literally refer to the slabs or tablets whereupon learners in western schools used to write on, placed on their laps. However, these tablets could never be thoroughly scraped clean as white chalk would leave faint traces of former writings behind. Therefore, the learners would write ‘new knowledge’ directly onto ‘old knowledge’. In this essay, I use the term palimpsest symbolically as the traces of so-called ‘old knowledge’ from South Africa’s colonial and racist past continually emerge from beneath new South African ideology.

[14] Dirven declares that English as a South African lingua franca is relative due to the fact that in a specific domain or area in the country, another language may be more commonly used for communication (cited in Van Der Walt, Evans & Kilfoil 2009: 7). However, one must recognise that English is “… irreplaceable in a range of other domains, including Parliament and general administration at higher levels” (The English Academy of South Africa 2009: 1).

[15] This third language may be an official language or a foreign language (http://www.info.gov.za/view/DownloadFileAction?id=70257)




THE CLASSIC CONCORDANCE OF CACOGRAPHIC CHAOS

The strange case of the English language

Below is one of the versions of a poem entitled ‘English is tough stuff’ (aka ‘The Chaos’) by Dr Gerald Nolst Trenité (1870-1946), a Dutch writer, traveller and teacher. It was first published in 1920 in a book to help people improve their English pronunciation (Drop Your Foreign Accent).

It has been said that English is one of the hardest languages to learn to speak and spell correctly. ‘The Chaos’ represents a virtuoso feat of composition, a mammoth catalogue of about 800 of the most notorious irregularities of traditional English orthography, skilfully versified (if with a few awkward lines) into couplets with alternating feminine and masculine rhymes. The selection of examples now appears somewhat dated, as do a few of their pronunciations; indeed a few words may even be unknown to today’s readers (how many will know what a ‘studding-sail’ is, or that its nautical pronunciation is ‘stunsail’?), and not every rhyme will immediately ‘click’ (‘grits’ for ‘groats’?); but the overwhelming bulk of the poem represents as valid an indictment of the chaos of English spelling as it ever did. Who the ‘dearest creature in creation’ addressed in the first line, also addressed as ‘Susy’ in line 5, might have been is unknown, though a mimeographed version of the poem in Harry Cohen’s possession is dedicated to ‘Miss Susanne Delacruix, Paris’. Presumably she was one of Nolst Trenité’s students.

Readers will notice that ‘The Chaos’ is written from the viewpoint of the foreign learner of English: it is not so much the spelling as such that is lamented, as the fact that the poor learner can never tell how to pronounce words encountered in writing (the poem was, after all, appended to a book of pronunciation exercises). With English today the prime language of international communication, this unpredictability of symbol-sound correspondence constitutes no less of a problem than the unpredictability of sound-symbol correspondence which is so bewailed by native speakers of English. Nevertheless, many native English-speaking readers will find the poem a revelation: the juxtaposition of so many differently pronounced parallel spellings brings home the sheer illogicality of the writing system in countless instances that such readers may have never previously noticed.

It would be interesting to know if Gerard Nolst Trenité, or anyone else, has ever actually used ‘he ‘o teach English pronunciation, since the tight rhythmic and rhyming structure of the poem might prove a valuable mnemonic aid. There could be material for experiments here: non-English- speaking learners who had practised reading parts of the poem aloud could be tested in reading the same problematic words in a plain prose context, and their success measured against a control group who had not practised them through ‘The Chaos’.

This version is essentially the author’s own final text, as also published by New River Project in 1993. A few minor corrections have however been made, and occasional words from earlier editions have been preferred. Following earlier practice, words with clashing spellings or pronunciations are here printed in italics.

We hope that you enjoy this bit of fun and find it useful in teaching spelling and homophones.

Gerard Nolst Trenité – The Chaos (1922)

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, hear and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word.

Sword and sward, retain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it’s written).
Made has not the sound of bade,
Saysaid, paypaid, laid but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak,
Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak ,

Previous, precious, fuchsia, via
Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
Woven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.

Say, expecting fraud and trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,
Branch, ranch, measles, topsails, aisles,
Missiles, similes, reviles.

Wholly, holly, signal, signing,
Same, examining, but mining,
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far.

From “desire”: desirableadmirable from “admire”,
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier,
Topsham, brougham, renown, but known,
Knowledge, done, lone, gone, none, tone,

One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel.
Gertrude, German, wind and wind,
Beau, kind, kindred, queue, mankind,

Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, Reading, heathen, heather.
This phonetic labyrinth
Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.

Have you ever yet endeavoured
To pronounce revered and severed,
Demon, lemon, ghoul, foul, soul,
Peter, petrol and patrol?

Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.

Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which exactly rhymes with khaki.
Discount, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward,

Ricocheted and crocheting, croquet?
Right! Your pronunciation’s OK.
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Is your r correct in higher?
Keats asserts it rhymes Thalia.
Hugh, but hug, and hood, but hoot,
Buoyant, minute, but minute.

Say abscission with precision,
Now: position and transition;
Would it tally with my rhyme
If I mentioned paradigm?

Twopence, threepence, tease are easy,
But cease, crease, grease and greasy?
Cornice, nice, valise, revise,
Rabies, but lullabies.

Of such puzzling words as nauseous,
Rhyming well with cautious, tortious,
You’ll envelop lists, I hope,
In a linen envelope.

Would you like some more? You’ll have it!
Affidavit, David, davit.
To abjure, to perjure. Sheik
Does not sound like Czech but ache.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, loch, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed but vowed.

Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover.
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice,

Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, penal, and canal,
Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal,

Suit, suite, ruin. Circuit, conduit
Rhyme with “shirk it” and “beyond it”,
But it is not hard to tell
Why it’s pall, mall, but Pall Mall.

Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion,
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor,

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
Has the a of drachm and hammer.
Pussy, hussy and possess,
Desert, but desert, address.

Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants
Hoist in lieu of flags left pennants.
Courier, courtier, tomb, bomb, comb,
Cow, but Cowper, some and home.

Solder, soldier! Blood is thicker“,
Quoth he, “than liqueur or liquor“,
Making, it is sad but true,
In bravado, much ado.

Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Pilot, pivot, gaunt, but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand and grant.

Arsenic, specific, scenic,
Relic, rhetoric, hygienic.
Gooseberry, goose, and close, but close,
Paradise, rise, rose, and dose.

Say inveigh, neigh, but inveigle,
Make the latter rhyme with eagle.
Mind! Meandering but mean,
Valentine and magazine.

And I bet you, dear, a penny,
You say mani-(fold) like many,
Which is wrong. Say rapier, pier,
Tier (one who ties), but tier.

Arch, archangel; pray, does erring
Rhyme with herring or with stirring?
Prison, bison, treasure trove,
Treason, hover, cover, cove,

Perseverance, severance. Ribald
Rhymes (but piebald doesn’t) with nibbled.
Phaeton, paean, gnat, ghat, gnaw,
Lien, psychic, shone, bone, pshaw.

Don’t be down, my own, but rough it,
And distinguish buffet, buffet;
Brood, stood, roof, rook, school, wool, boon,
Worcester, Boleyn, to impugn.

Say in sounds correct and sterling
Hearse, hear, hearken, year and yearling.
Evil, devil, mezzotint,
Mind the z! (A gentle hint.)

Now you need not pay attention
To such sounds as I don’t mention,
Sounds like pores, pause, pours and paws,
Rhyming with the pronoun yours;

Nor are proper names included,
Though I often heard, as you did,
Funny rhymes to unicorn,
Yes, you know them, Vaughan and Strachan.

No, my maiden, coy and comely,
I don’t want to speak of Cholmondeley.
No. Yet Froude compared with proud
Is no better than McLeod.

But mind trivial and vial,
Tripod, menial, denial,
Troll and trolley, realm and ream,
Schedule, mischief, schism, and scheme.

Argil, gill, Argyll, gill. Surely
May be made to rhyme with Raleigh,
But you’re not supposed to say
Piquet rhymes with sobriquet.

Had this invalid invalid
Worthless documents? How pallid,
How uncouth he, couchant, looked,
When for Portsmouth I had booked!

Zeus, Thebes, Thales, Aphrodite,
Paramour, enamoured, flighty,
Episodes, antipodes,
Acquiesce, and obsequies.

Please don’t monkey with the geyser,
Don’t peel ‘taters with my razor,
Rather say in accents pure:
Nature, stature and mature.

Pious, impious, limb, climb, glumly,
Worsted, worsted, crumbly, dumbly,
Conquer, conquest, vase, phase, fan,
Wan, sedan and artisan.

The th will surely trouble you
More than r, ch or w.
Say then these phonetic gems:
Thomas, thyme, Theresa, Thames.

Thompson, Chatham, Waltham, Streatham,
There are more but I forget ’em
Wait! I’ve got it: Anthony,
Lighten your anxiety.

The archaic word albeit
Does not rhyme with eight-you see it;
With and forthwith, one has voice,
One has not, you make your choice.

Shoes, goes, does *. Now first say: finger;
Then say: singer, ginger, linger.
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age,

Hero, heron, query, very,
Parry, tarry fury, bury,
Dost, lost, post, and doth, cloth, loth,
Job, Job, blossom, bosom, oath.

Faugh, oppugnant, keen oppugners,
Bowing, bowing, banjo-tuners
Holm you know, but noes, canoes,
Puisne, truism, use, to use?

Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual,
Seat, sweat, chaste, caste, Leigh, eight, height,
Put, nut, granite, and unite.

Reefer does not rhyme with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,
Hint, pint, senate, but sedate.

Gaelic, Arabic, pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific;
Tour, but our, dour, succour, four,
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.

Say manoeuvre, yacht and vomit,
Next omit, which differs from it
Bona fide, alibi
Gyrate, dowry and awry.

Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion,
Rally with ally; yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay!

Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.
Never guess-it is not safe,
We say calves, valves, half, but Ralf.

Starry, granary, canary,
Crevice, but device, and eyrie,
Face, but preface, then grimace,
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.

Bass, large, target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, oust, joust, and scour, but scourging;
Ear, but earn; and ere and tear
Do not rhyme with here but heir.

Mind the o of off and often
Which may be pronounced as orphan,
With the sound of saw and sauce;
Also soft, lost, cloth and cross.

Pudding, puddle, putting. Putting?
Yes: at golf it rhymes with shutting.
Respite, spite, consent, resent.
Liable, but Parliament.

Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, clerk and jerk,
Asp, grasp, wasp, demesne, cork, work.

A of valour, vapid vapour,
S of news (compare newspaper),
G of gibbet, gibbon, gist,
I of antichrist and grist,

Differ like diverse and divers,
Rivers, strivers, shivers, fivers.
Once, but nonce, toll, doll, but roll,
Polish, Polish, poll and poll.

Pronunciation-think of Psyche!-
Is a paling, stout and spiky.
Won’t it make you lose your wits
Writing groats and saying “grits”?

It’s a dark abyss or tunnel
Strewn with stones like rowlock, gunwale,
Islington, and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Don’t you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, bough, cough, hough, sough, tough??

Hiccough has the sound of sup
My advice is: GIVE IT UP!