Multilingualism: An African reality

  • Vimbai Mbirimi-Hungwe


A plethora of studies, locally and internationally, concur that multilingualism is a global phenomenon. Multilingualism has become ubiquitous even in parts of the world where a monolingual stance has been prevalent. However, the hegemony of English is maintained in countries historically colonised by the British Empire. This paper examines the various reasons why multilingualism is not taken into account, especially in South African institutions of higher learning. The qualitative study discussed in this paper utilised only one respondent stationed at a university in South Africa as its participant. Data were collected through a strategic conversation analysis with the student. The results show that the multilingual student treasures his inherent multilingualism and enjoys acquiring more languages into his repertoire. In addition, the results debunk some researchers’ scepticism towards promoting multilingualism for fear of language interference. The findings further indicate the need to recognise the reality of multilingualism in South Africa and Africa, which should be treated as such.


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