Choice of language for learning and assessment: the role of learner identity and perceptions in informing these choices
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South Africa, like many ex-colonial contexts finds itself confronting difficult decisions about multilingualism. The South Africa constitution recognizes eleven official languages and provides for education in these languages. At present, few parents opt to put their children in African language classrooms.This study explores the case of an inner-city school in Cape Town which offered limited provisions in learning in Afrikaans and isiXhosa besides the main language English. The study elicited learners’ ideas and attitudes about the viability of these languages as languages of teaching and learning through the primary use of interviews. Learners’ perceptions of language are discussed within a language ideological framework that distinguishes between modernist and post modernist ideas of language in a transforming postmodern context.Among the findings are ideologically loaded discourses of how these learners undermine the use of Afrikaans and isiXhosa as languages of education in order to create or enact a certain learner identity which they deem appropriate for this context. Furthermore, downgrading of their languages is largely embedded in the need to separate languages of the home and education as some languages are more than others believed to offer social and economic flexibility.