FAMILY LANGUAGE POLICY: delibrate decisions by parents to educate their children via Afrikaans despite access to English in the family
Mostert, Stephanie Jean
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Despite an expressed awareness of the hegemony and high status of English in the world today, there are English dominant and English-Afrikaans families within the Vaal Triangle Region, who opt for Afrikaans as the language of teaching and learning for their children. This study endeavoured to investigate this phenomenon, set against the backdrop of main-stream beliefs which advocate the endangerment of Afrikaans owing to what is seen as the ‘infiltration’ of English across various domains. In this, predominantly qualitative study, a degree of mixed method approach is implemented in order to determine the motives that drive the contradictory decision-making of the parents in question, in terms of the choice of language of teaching and learning for their children, as set about both explicitly and implicitly in their respective Family Language Policies (FLP). The methods used to gain insight into the perspectives and beliefs of the participants, included two main elements; the first of which was a questionnaire consisting of closed- and open-ended questions, followed by an interview phase where elaboration and candid discussions regarding the Family Language Policies and education decisions of the participants could be determined. This method provided data rich in the beliefs, strategies and concerns of the participants. The main findings of the study explain the complexities involved in the implementation of a Family Language Policy, which has an influence on the choices made regarding the language medium of education for the children. The most important finding from the data is that the participants believe that it is important for their children to, at least, be equibilingual within the linguistically pluralistic context of South Africa. The parents therefore foster bilingualism in various ways, to ensure the participants’ desired outcome for their children. Despite the awareness of the present pressures on the Afrikaans language, there are still individuals who choose this language within the home, within education, and within social groups. Families are opting for Afrikaans, despite the perceived threat that English poses to the language. In a country, thus, where languages have such a strong political, cultural and social value, this study suggests that the role of Family Language Policy is of paramount importance and that the fact that these parents foster a form of multi- or bilingualism, negates the unwarranted negative beliefs held about linguisticide in South Africa and promotes the idea of awareness of the importance of bi- and/or multilingualism.
- Humanities 
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