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ERIC Number: EJ832204
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-May
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 30
ISSN: ISSN-1175-8708
"Straight for English": Using School Language Policy to Resist Multilingualism
Dixon, Kerryn; Peake, Kathleen
English Teaching: Practice and Critique, v7 n1 p73-90 May 2008
Despite critical literacy being identified as a desired outcome of South Africa's new curriculum statement, in reality this does not seem to be occurring (DoE 2002, pp. 5, 11). Critical literacy is one way in which spaces of contestation and resistance can be opened up. In order to do so it is necessary to provide students with basic literacy skills. Currently in South Africa, this does not seem to be the case as many children are not reading at a minimal level. One of the reasons for this is that children have little access to mother tongue education. This article explores one of many challenges that inhibit the construction of language classes as spaces of resistance: the institutional constraints that arise from of South Africa's National Language Policy and schools individual language policies. It considers the failure of the National Language in Education Policy in its calls for mother tongue instruction and a multilingual approach. Using a critical approach, the article analyses the language policy and research instrument from one desegregated Johannesburg school. The analysis shows that the status quo of previous policies remains. The hegemony of English is entrenched at the expense of other languages and a multilingual constituency. This is expressed in a discourse of deficit. The construction of a survey to elicit parent views merely gives the illusion of choice revealing the disempowerment of parents. We argue that such an analysis is crucial in understanding views on language and language teaching that are entrenched in schools. It is also important that schools are supported in the construction of policies. If schools are unable to be critical of their own language practices, then it is unlikely that classrooms will be spaces of critical contestation. (Contains 3 footnotes and 4 tables.)
Wilf Malcolm Institute for Educational Research, University of Waikato. PB 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand. Tel: +64-7-858-5171; Fax: +64-7-838-4712; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: South Africa