Teaching German as a foreign language in a multilingual South African context

  • Anne Baker


Arguments for the promotion of indigenous languages should not be used as reasons against teaching German in a multilingual South African context. Elevating the status of the indigenous languages can go hand in hand with continuing to teach German as a foreign language. This article argues that teachers of German as a foreign language could valuably affirm African languages in their classrooms. The article demonstrates the importance of taking cognizance of the learners’ first language in learning a foreign language. Knowing what to emphasise and which elements in the primary language are useful for more effective language learning to take place can be problematic for the teacher who is not familiar with the primary language of the learners. An error analysis of the written work of grade 10 and grade 12 learners of German as a foreign language provides valuable insights for teachers in South Africa who find that their classes are increasingly multilingual. It also suggests ways of providing opportunities to affirm African languages in the foreign language classroom.

Author Biography

Anne Baker
Anne Baker lectures in German as a foreign language at the University of Johannesburg, and is currently involved in further research at Ogwini High School.Email:  abaker@uj.ac.za