Language and literacy practices of African immigrants in Pietermaritzburg.
Language and literacy are of central importance to communication for most people in the world today. This case study investigates the language and literacy practices amongst African immigrant families in Pietermaritzburg. There are many immigrant families from different countries with different home languages and different backgrounds. This study examines the languages used in these different immigrant homes, and what factors lead to the choice of the languages. It investigates what literacy practices these families are engaged in. The study further examines the effects that the choice of languages used in these homes and the literacy practices engaged in have on the education of both the parents and their children. The literature reviewed for this study focused on six major themes on literacy, namely; (i) literacy as social practice, (ii) literacy networks, (iii) literacy domains, (iv) literacy events, (v) language, literacy acquisition and social identity and (vi) second language socialization. To collect the data necessary to for the study, three methods were used: group interviews, home observation and participant observation. Data was examined using Street’s ideological model of new literacy studies as theoretical framework. The findings for this study show that there are different languages used in each home but that the use of English is common in all the homes. The findings show that the literacy practices that these families are engaged in are similar despite coming from different countries. The study found that texts using cell phones play a major role during communication. This shows that electronic technology plays a vital role in both the children’s and adults’ language and literacy development.