Medium of instruction and its effect on matriculation examination results for 2000, in Western Cape secondary schools : a study of examination results in relation to home language and language medium

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

South Africa must see a measurable improvement in the quality of education in order for all sectors of the population to become relevant. We have a democratic constitution which promises equal opportunities for all. In practice, however, this is not always realised. In the educational domain, for example, language medium is an essential element in all learning, but, as this study shows, we still have the situation where premature learning through an insufficiently developed second or third language impacts negatively on quality of education and on students' performance. The stigma associated with Afrikaans as 'the language of the oppressor' and the perception that African languages are underdeveloped and inferior, further strengthens the position of English as the dominant language in South Africa. Because of the global status of English, it is obvious why the desire to acquire proficiency in English is high among all segments of the population. The importance of English as a language of power is not disputed. However, this study stresses the necessity for the empowerment of African language speakers in their mother-tongues as a prerequisite for empowerment in English, by showing clearly that there is a correlation between first and second language acquisition, as well as between home language, language medium and academic results. Those students who receive education through the medium of their first/home language(s) are advantaged as against the majority, who are taught through a second/foreign language.

Bibliography: leaves 102-104.