Home | Media Releases Index page

Media Release

Thursday, 20 June, 2002

WCED launches video on multilingual classrooms

Statement by André Gaum, Western Cape Education Minister

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) is proud to announce the launch of a video on Language Teaching in Multilingual Classrooms, produced by Edumedia, the WCED’s multimedia production unit.

The video features teachers and learners at three Western Cape schools, which are dealing very creatively with their complex language situations.

The schools are Rosmead Central Primary, Laerskool Kleinberg and Observatory Junior School. The video is accompanied by a booklet, which is full of useful analysis and suggestions.

Two of the schools filmed were part of a two-year action research and intervention project conducted by the WCED on language matters.

The video, the booklet and a manual, which will be available later this year, form part of the WCED’s commitment to sharing elements of good practice from these schools with other schools facing changes in the language profiles of their classrooms. These changes are sometimes of a huge magnitude.

Many schools, for example, have a learner population of nearly almost all Xhosa-speaking learners while their teachers are largely English speaking. Afrikaans medium schools are increasingly enrolling Xhosa and English-speaking learners.

What do the teachers do when research is saying that the child learns best if it first learns to read and write in its primary (home) language? What are the parents feeling about what is best for their children? What are schools finding out for themselves about what works best? What can they share with other schools?

The video shows vividly the energy and commitment of the teachers at these three schools. It shows how one has made the radical move to switch medium from English to Xhosa even though there are five children in the class concerned who are English-speaking.

At another school, a Language Aide works alongside the teacher to interpret and work with the learners on behalf of the teacher who cannot speak Xhosa herself. At a third school, peer-translation and other steps - like reading material in translation - are quietly used by the teacher who is just sensibly getting on with making a plan to make learning work for her class.

The launch and distribution of the video complements an important investigation into language matters currently being conducted by the Ministerial Task Team, which I appointed earlier this year to develop strategies to expand mother-tongue instruction and third language studies in primary schools.

We are launching the video at Observatory Junior School on June 20 – in the week of "Youth Day" - that day which marks indelibly the issue of language medium in this country.

The video is 22 minutes in length and accompanied by a training booklet. Copies of it may be ordered from Edumedia (Phone 021-689 9536).

Enquiries: André Gaum,   082 550 3938

Issued by:
The Communications Directorate
Western Cape Education Department
Private Bag X9114
Cape Town 8000
Tel: (021) 467-2531
Fax: (021) 467-2363
Email: pattwell@pawc.wcape.gov.za
 return to: Home | Media Releases Index page