Transitions and translations from Afrikaans to English in schools of the Helderberg area

Jean Farmer, Christine Anthonissen


This paper reports on the findings of a project that profiled the linguistic resources of learners with an Afrikaans-English bilingual background in order to determine features of a perceived process of language shift. The language repertoire and decisions on school enrollment of learners from Afrikaans homes that are registered in the English first language classes were investigated in a historically white, Afrikaans-only High School where recently English medium classes were introduced. During the past couple of years the language of learning and teaching in this school has been adjusted to fit the educational requirements of learners from linguistically and racially diverse backgrounds. Considering also the link between language and ethnicity, the linguistic preferences and patterns of language choice and language use of a selected group of 15- to 18-year-old learners were traced. Reported uses of English and Afrikaans in domains beyond the school, notably at home with relatives, are taken as indicative of linguistic identities. The patterns and preferences of learners from "coloured" communities indicate an extensive process of marginalisation of Afrikaans in families that formerly had a decidedly Afrikaans identity.

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ISSN 2223-9936 (online); ISSN 1027-3417 (print)

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