JOPOL 4(2021)

Attitudes toward Language Use in Education: A Legacy of Colonialism and Apartheid in South Africa
Thabo Ditsele

Language attitudes in South Africa are shaped by the country’s history of colonialism and apartheid. English and Afrikaans received institutional support from the government of South Africa, and they dominated all sectors of society, including education. This support happened at the expense of Southern Bantu languages spoken by an overwhelming majority of citizens. In April 1994, South Africa became a democracy, and laws were amended to give nine Southern Bantu languages official status, alongside English and Afrikaans. This article contextualises the history of language in South Africa to demonstrate why the country’s citizens hold positive attitudes toward English in formal settings, including education, and negative attitudes toward Southern Bantu languages which constitute 75% of the country’s population.

Keywords: Language attitudes, Southern Bantu languages, colonialism and apartheid, otherness, South Africa