USIA English Language Programs

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs


Report on Academic Specialist Visit to South Africa:
August 2-17, 1999

By Nancy H. Hornberger, University of Pennsylvania

About the Specialist

Nancy H. Hornberger is Professor of Education and Director of Educational Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, where she also served as Acting Dean from 1993-1995. A graduate of Harvard University (B.A. cum laude, 1972), New York University (M.A. in Education, 1973), and the University of Wisconsin at Madison (Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies, 1985), she has been a Fulbright-Hays Dissertation Fellow, a National Academy of Education Spencer Fellow, and a Salzburg Seminar Presidential Fellow. Dr. Hornberger's dissertation, published as Bilingual Education and Language Maintenance: A Southern Peruvian Quechua Case (Foris/Mouton, 1988), won First Place in the National Association of Bilingual Education's Outstanding Dissertation Awards.

Professor Hornberger has published widely in international journals, serves on the editorial boards of several, and also co-edits a book series on Bilingualism and Bilingual Education (Multilingual Matters, UK). Her recent publications include Indigenous Literacies in the Americas: Language Planning from the Bottom up (Mouton, 1996), Sociolinguistics and Language Teaching (Cambridge University Press, 1996), Language Planning and Policy and the English Language Teaching Profession (TESOL Quarterly, 1996), and Research Methods in Language Education (Kluwer, 1998).

Dr. Hornberger is a frequently invited speaker at professional conferences and at universities, nationally and internationally. She travels regularly to Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru to lecture, teach, consult, and continue her research there. She has also been visiting professor at the Universidade de Campinas in São Paulo, Brasil (1997) and the University of Natal in Durban, South Africa (1996). She served as consultant to the United Nations on adult literacy education in El Salvador (1991) and on the national educational reform in Bolivia (1995).

Visit Nancy Hornberger's web page.


Areas of Specialization

Sociolinguistics, educational linguistics, language planning, bilingual / multilingual education, biliteracy, indigenous language maintenance and revitalization, intercultural communication. Special attention to educational policy and practice for indigenous and immigrant language minority populations in Andean South America and the United States.

Research pursues answers to two fundamental questions: 1) what educational approaches best serve language minority learners? and 2) what policies, programs, and circumstances encourage or contribute to minority language maintenance and revitalization?



Trip Report

South Africa currently has "one of the most progressive language policies in the world" (Alexander 1999), embodied in the Constitution of 1993 and the Department of Education's Language-in-Education Policy of 14 July 1997 (based on section 3(4)(m) of the National Education Policy Act of 1996 and section 6(1) of the South African Schools Act of 1996). South African policy elevates eleven languages to official status and forthrightly recognizes cultural diversity as a valuable national asset as well as the obligation on the educational system to promote multilingualism, in direct contrast to the inherited language-in-education policy, "fraught with tensions, contradictions and sensitivities, and underpinned by racial and linguistic discrimination."

The implementation of this language-in-education policy shift faces many challenges and constraints in South Africa's post-apartheid context. Not least among these challenges is the historically hegemonic and increasingly global role of English in today's world. Somewhat paradoxically considering that role, I found many English teachers who are actively concerned with, involved in, and dedicated to implementing South Africa's new multilingual language policy, even in the face of what is (somewhat misleadingly) reported in the media to be a burgeoning popular demand for English. Though the teachers I met are not necessarily representative of the majority of English teachers in South Africa, their experience and expertise in sociolinguistics and language teaching are an important resource as South Africa seeks to implement its ambitious new multilingual language policy.

Visits to the Linguistics Programme at the University of Natal in Durban (UND) and to the Applied English Language Studies department at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg acquainted me with numerous faculty and post-graduate students actively involved in research on and professional development with teachers around issues of teaching and learning in South Africa's newly multicultural and multilingual classrooms. Members of the Faculties of Education at University of Durban-Westville (UDW) and Rand Afrikaans University (RAU) in Johannesburg were likewise engaged in incorporating multiple languages and cultures in their curricula in quite innovative ways, even where English is the medium of instruction (e.g. requiring a module focused on basic classroom communicative competence in Zulu for all undergraduate education majors, including complete and original African language data on CD-ROM as an appendix to masters and doctoral theses, providing supplemental thesis abstracts in Zulu rather than Afrikaans (in addition to English), encouraging students to participate in class discussions in their first language along with a brief summary in English). Language Departments (e.g. Afrikaans, Indian, IsiZulu languages at UDW), too, are confronted with forging new identities and curricula which promote maintenance and revitalization of South Africa's multiple language resources amidst not only the pressures of hegemonic English but also those (perhaps unintentionally) produced by far-reaching curricular restructuring and teacher retrenchment initiatives.

The English Language Educational Trust's annual conference for this year addressed such issues directly, with their theme "Formulating and Implementing Multilingual Language-in-Education Policies in South Africa's Schools, Colleges, and Universities." Among the kinds of concerns heard there (and reiterated in my subsequent visits to schools and universities) were: the complexity of the sociolinguistic situation and language attitudes in South Africa, so little understood by the average citizen or policy-maker; the lack of follow-through in implementation of national policy at the provincial level; and the drastic, unintended consequences resulting from dramatic curricular restructuring and personnel rationalization in both the schools and the universities. All of these have their roots in South Africa's overall project of stretching resources equitably across the whole of its population in an attempt to redress the neglect and abuses of the past. Rectifying the language discrimination of the past is a very important piece of that redress.

I intend to direct my own students' attention to the South African case, and to continue to develop exchanges and linkages between my own institution and universities there. The matters mentioned above require urgent attention, not just for South Africa's sake, but also because the South African example is of compelling interest to the rest of the world, engaged everywhere as we are in implementing multilingual and multicultural education which will genuinely prepare our students for the next millenium.




Suggested Bibliography

Selected references on Multilingualism and Multilingual Education in South Africa and elsewhere:

Adendorff, R. (1993). Codeswitching amongst Zulu-speaking teachers and their pupils: Its functions and implications for teacher education. Language and Education 7(3), 141-162.

Adendorff, R. (1993). Ethnographic evidence of the social meaning of Fanakalo in South Africa. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages, 8(1), 1-27.

Adendorff, R. (1995). Fanakalo in South Africa. In R. Mesthrie (Ed.), Language and Social History: Studies in South African Sociolinguistics (pp. 176-192). Cape Town and Johannesburg: David Philip.

Adendorff, R. (submitted for publication). What's at stake at news time? Evidence from a multicultural primary school in Durban, South Africa. Language and Education.

Alexander, N. (1989). Language Policy and National Unity in South Africa/Azania. Capetown: Buchu Books.

Alexander, N. (1990). The language question. In R. Schrire (Ed.), Critical Choices for South African Society . Cape Town: Oxford University Press.

Alexander, N. (1992). South Africa: Harmonising Nguni and Sotho. In N. Crawhall (Ed.), Democratically Speaking: International Perspectives on Language Planning . Cape Town: National Language Project.

Alexander, N. (1995). Models of multilingual schooling for a democratic South Africa. In K. Heugh, A. Siegruhn, & P. Plüddeman (Eds.), Multilingual Education for South Africa (pp. 79-82). Johannesburg: Heinemann.

Alexander, N. (1995). Multilingualism for empowerment. In K. Heugh, A. Siegruhn, & P. Plüddeman (Eds.), Multilingual Education for South Africa (pp. 37-41). Johannesburg: Heinemann.

Alexander, N. (1999). English unassailable but unattainable: On teachers' responsibility in view of the global hegemony of English. Paper presented at ELET Conference on "Formulating and Implementing Multilingual Language-in-Education Policies in South Africa's Schools, Colleges, and Universities," Durban.

Chick, J. K. (1993). Interactional sociolinguistics and intercultural communication in South Africa. In R. Mesthrie (Ed.), A Reader in South African Sociolinguistics

Chick, J. K. (1996). Intercultural communication. In S. L. McKay & N. H. Hornberger (Eds.), Sociolinguistics and Language Teaching (pp. 329-348). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Chick, J. K. (1996). Safe-talk: Collusion in Apartheid education. In H. Coleman (Ed.), Society and the Language Classroom (pp. 21-39). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chick, J. K., & McKay, S. L. (1999). Teaching English in multiethnic schools in the Durban area: The promotion of multilingualism or monolingualism? Paper presented at ELET Conference on "Formulating and Implementing Multilingual Language-in-Education Policies in South Africa's Schools, Colleges, and Universities," Durban.

Chick, J. K., & Wade, R. (1997). Restandardization in the direction of a new English: Implications for access and equity. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 18 (4), 271-284.

Heugh, K., A. Siegruhn, P. Plüddeman (Eds.) (1995). Multilingual Education for South Africa. Johannesburg: Heinemann.

Hornberger, N. H. (Ed.) (1996). Indigenous Literacies in the Americas: Language Planning from the Bottom up. Berlin: Mouton.

Hornberger, N. H. (1996). Mother tongue literacy in the Cambodian community of Philadelphia. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 119, 69-86.

Hornberger, N. H. (1997). Literacy, language maintenance, and linguistic human rights: Three telling cases. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 127, 87-103.

Hornberger, N. H. (1998). Language policy, language education, language rights: Indigenous, immigrant, and international perspectives. Language in Society, 27(4), 439-458.

Hornberger, N. H. (2000). Bilingual education policy and practice: Ideological paradox and intercultural possibility. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 31(2).

Hornberger, N. H., & Chick, K. (to appear). Co-constructing school safetime: Safetalk practices in Peruvian and South African classrooms. In M. Martin-Jones & M. Heller (Eds.), Voices of Authority: Education and Linguistic Difference Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Hornberger, N. H., & Corson, D. (Eds.). (1997). Research Methods in Language and Education. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Hornberger, N. H., & King, K. A. (1996). Language revitalisation in the Andes: Can the schools reverse language shift? Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 17(6), 427-441.

Hornberger, N. H., & López, L. E. (1998). Policy, possibility and paradox: Indigenous multilingualism and education in Peru and Bolivia. In J. Cenoz & F. Genesee (Eds.), Beyond Bilingualism: Multilingualism and Multilingual Education (pp. 206-242). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.

Hornberger, N. H., & Ricento, T. K. (1996). Language Planning and Policy and the English Language Teaching Profession. TESOL Quarterly, 30(3), entire.

Hornberger, N. H., & Skilton-Sylvester, E. (to appear). Revisiting the continua of biliteracy: International and critical perspectives. Language and Education.

Kamwangamalu, N. (1997). Multilingualism and education policy in post-apartheid South Africa. Language Problems and Language Planning, 21(3), 234-253.

Samuel, Michael, Juliet Perumal, Rubby Dhunpath, Jonathan Jansen, and Keith Lewin, eds. (1999). International Trends in Teacher Education: Policy, Politics, and Practice. Conference Proceedings. Durban, South Africa: University of Durban-Westville Faculty of Education.



Recommended Links
My web page. This site includes the syllabus for one of my courses: Ed 546 -- Sociolinguistics in Education in the U.S.
University of Pennsylvania, Language in Education Division (my department)



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