Original Research

IsiZulu and English in KwaZulu-Natal rural schools: how teachers fear failure and opt for English

Nontokoza Mashiya
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 1, No 1 | a71 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v1i1.71 | © 2011 Nontokoza Mashiya | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 May 2014 | Published: 31 December 2011

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Nontokoza Mashiya, University of Zululand, South Africa

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In this article, factors inhibiting the use of mother tongue as the language of learning and teaching (LoLT) in rural foundation phase classes is investigated. I analysed qualitative data from focus group interviews with 20 foundation phase teachers that were selected through purposive sampling. Findings show that factors such as prior learner knowledge, better opportunities for children, time constraints, low self-concepts of African teachers, failure of the education system, teachers’ lack of proficiency in the language of teaching and learning, directly translated resources, lack of parental involvement in decision making, and ‘invisible’ school language policies inhibit the use of children’s primary language in the classroom. These nine factors are discussed and the article makes recommendations to suggest ways to alleviate these challenges.


mother tongue teaching, foundation phase, rural schools, language in education policy , teachers’ self concept


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