What is the actual medium of instruction in formerly black secondary schools? Current practice and its implications for language policy formulation

David Meyer

Abstract


This article was prompted by the response to the results of an earlier publication (Meyer 1995)
which sought to establish actual practice regarding medium of instruction at matric level in
formerly DET black secondary schools in what was then the Transvaal. The results of that
investigation showed that the actual position regarding medium of instruction, primarily in the
Northern Province, was that two-thirds of teachers and students followed a policy of using only
English, while most of the remaining one-third pursued a policy of simultaneous use of English
and a vernacular language. Fewer than five per cent of teachers and stitdents claimed to use only
their first language as medium. This article reports on a series of chi;zllenges to the claim that
English-only is the predominant medium, suggesting instead that the phenomenon of codeswitching
or the simultaneous use of two languages is most common. The possible implications
for medium of instruction policy formulation and implementation are briefly considered
Die respons op die resultate van 'n vroeer publikasie (Meyer 1995) het tot hierdie artikel
aanleiding gegee. Die vorige artikel het gepoog om vas te stel wat in werklikheid plaasvind ten
opsigte van medium van onderrig op matriekvlak in voormalige ''DET' swart sekondere skole in
die eertydse Transvaal. Die resultate van daardie ondersoek het getoon dat die werklike toestand
ten opsigte van medium van onde"ig, vera/ in die Noordelike Provinsie, was dat twee derdes van
die onderwysers en studente 'n beleid gevolg het van alleenlik Engels te gebruik, terwyl die meeste
van die oorblywende een derde 'n beleid van die gelyktydige gebruik van Engels en die
moedertaal gevolg het. Minder as vyf per sent van onderwysers en studente het beweer dat hulle
net hulle moedertaal as medium gebruik het. Hierdie artikel berig oor 'n reeks uitdagings wat die
bewering bevraagteken dat die alleen gebruik van Engels die oorwegende medium is. Daar word
aangevoer dat die verskynsel van kodewisseling of die gelyktydige gebruik van twee tale eerder die
algemene gebruik is. Die moontlike implikasies wat dit vir die medium van onde"igbeleidformulering
en -implementering inhou word kortliks in oenskou ge,neem.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5785/11-2-217

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ISSN 2224-0012 (online); ISSN 0259-2312 (print)

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