SPARK School’s First Additional Languages (FAL)

SPARK regularly gets asked about the school’s selection of first additional languages which include isiZulu for Gauteng and isiXhosa is the Western Cape. We would, therefore, like to unpack the decisions supporting our first additional language choices as well as look at the important vision for our multilingualism in practice.

Legislative Context

In 2013 the Department of Basic Education introduced a policy for the Incremental Introduction of an African Language (IIAL) in all schools.

Schools that offered Afrikaans as a first additional language were given a period of 2 years (2017-2019) to introduce a previously marginalised African language to the curriculum1. English is SPARK’s primary language of learning and teaching (LoLT) based on the role of English in official and commercial life in the central economy and government, social and trade as well as for national and international communication.

SPARK chose isiZulu and isiXhosa as first additional languages based on the multilingual nature of South Africa.
SPARK looked at the most frequently spoken language (other than English) in the specific provinces in which we operate, Gauteng and the Western Cape.

This research was based on the South African National Census of 2011 which showed the below prominent languages:

  • Gauteng – Zulu (19.8%), English (13.3%)
  • Western Cape – Afrikaans (55.3%), Xhosa (24.7%), English (19.3%)

Analysis of this research resulted in SPARK’s first additional language choices of isiZulu for Gauteng and isiXhosa for the Western Cape.

Development and Future Provision

While Afrikaans is still a very dominant language in South Africa, especially in the Western Cape region, and is one of the major official languages SPARK also needed to consider the developmental vision for the country, with a particular focus on previously marginalised African languages. Multilingualism can and should be deliberately fostered and developed, and language education in schools is by far the most important2 way of achieving this.

Multilingualism also helps with:

  • preserving social identity, heritage and culture
  • linguistic innovation
  • aspiring for fully-developed African languages of learning at tertiary level along with the necessary resources
  • driving the demand for quality African Language educators.

SPARK Schools are proud to have brilliant and qualified language teachers and to be putting into practice both the school and the country’s vision of promoting social cohesion and expanding opportunities through home language education.
As an innovative organisation, we always seek to improve and remain committed to researching local and global trends for the betterment of our students and the country as a whole.
For more information, kindly refer to the SPARK Language Policy.

1 (DBE Circular 21, 2013 and ISASA Memorandum, February, 2017).
2 Language as a ‘Resource’ in South Africa: The Economic Life of Language in a Globalising Society. English Academy Review 19.1: 2-19.

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