Sociolinguistic dynamics and challenges facing African learners in multiracial schools in terms of their linguistic and cultural identities.
This dissertation explores the sociolinguistic dynamics and challenges facing African learners in some multiracial schools in KwaZulu-Natal in terms of their linguistic and cultural identities. It seeks to investigate the impact of schooling in multiracial schools on the identities of young Zulu speakers living in Sundumbili Township in Northern KwaZulu-Natal. Three formerly HOD schools in Stanger were identified as research sites, and 100 Grade 11 learners selected as respondents. Data was collected by a multi-method approach, through a written questionnaire, and through interviews with a sub-group of the respondents. Data analysis involved both qualitative and quantitative processes. The findings indicate that the learners investigated have responded to the challenges posed by their schooling in a multiracial environment by developing into bilingual speakers who are aware of the need to select their language according to the communicative needs of their context. They seem well able to shift from school to the township and vice versa. However it is clear that some are no longer fully proficient in isiZulu. At the same time, these learners still identify themselves as amaZulu, primarily on the basis of participating in Zulu cultural activities. The role of language in constituting Zulu identity appears to be receding: many respondents feel that speaking isiZulu is no longer essential to being amaZulu. These attitudes raise some concerns about the long-term maintenance of isiZulu. The thesis concludes with some recommendations aimed at enhancing the continued use of isiZulu. The Department of Education must ensure that all schools promote an additive form of bilingualism which will enable a child to develop in his/her mother tongue while getting exposure to an additional language. Furthermore economic value must be given to these African languages to enable learners to find meaning in studying and using them. Multiracial schools should celebrate diversity in both linguistic and cultural terms, and parents should come to accept the important roles that they need to play in this regard.