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SA Students Are Now Learning French As An African Language

Story from: 2oceansvibe.com

Many South African universities are currently involved in projects concerning decolonisation and democratisation, thanks to the #FeesMustFall protests which put the country’s tertiary education system under the spotlight.

Just one example of how this transformation is being executed in the classroom is the study of the French language at Wits University.

According to Quartz, no longer is the romantic language, which has been taught in South African classrooms for decades, recognised and taught as a European language representative of “French” culture.


Perceived as linguistically and culturally “exotic”, attitudes towards French started to change after apartheid as South Africa opened up to Africa and the rest of the world.

The increased presence of migrant Francophone Africans in South Africa, principally from the DRC, added to this understanding.

The changing profile of academics and students at South African universities has also helped to reshape the identity of French studies.

These shifts in the way the language and its literature is taught provides interesting insights into the debates on decolonisation in education, as well as how the modes of teaching, learning and research speak to an inclusive Africanist and globalised agenda:

Within this transnational paradigm, speaking French would equip learners to become multilingual, global citizens.

The broadening of the scope and range of texts taught, and the focus on the reader and learner in the reading process, signals a significant democratisation of the discipline. This is embedded in the collective project of decolonisation, given the European heritage of the discipline and its historically normative teaching approach.

This move comes as research points to the advantages of democratising classroom practices. The shift from text-centred to learner-centred approaches sees the teacher acting as a facilitator and, taking on a less “prescriptive role in engaging and encouraging discussion,” there’s enormous learning value in this:

The literary text still plays a central role in the field of modern languages. But the meaning of what constitutes a text has also undergone radical change. The explosion of Media Studies as a discipline speaks to the proliferation and diversification of the cultural archive. This extends beyond the literary field to include participatory modes of cultural production, such as social media, the hypermedia novel and e-poetry.

These practices are challenging the very notion of the text and author as fixed entities inscribed within national traditions.

Time to learn French as an African language? I mean, why not?

There are so many French-speaking people in Cape Town that there’s no harm in trying a course or two at a language school.

Try this one on for size – de rien, mon ami.


This post is from 2oceansvibe.com. Click here to read the full text

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