20 March 2004

English by Force?

When I was growing up in Lesotho English was the language to speak. An English speaker was on a higher rung of the social ladder than a non-English or a Sesotho speaker. That was wrong. The intrinsic value of each language and each culture is finally being recognised, thank God. I don't know if school kids who are "caught" speaking a language other than English are still punished, but they shouldn't be.

Many parents feel that they are doing the best for their children by insisting that they speak English all the time, but bonds and a sense of belonging are formed through the cultural links of folk tales. The Nguni and Sotho languages are rich in metaphor and symbolism and children will benefit from understanding concepts in their home language. Whatever your home language, teach your child to value all languages and celebrate the diversity of our multilingual society.

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