Mother-tongue education is your key to success.

04 Augustus 2017

Research from around the world has shown that it takes more than three years to fully learn a language and that it’s best for children to learn in their mother tongue for the first six years at school. Ideally, English should be presented as an additional language during this stage - gradually introduced as a co-teaching medium. This gives children the best of both worlds. “If a learner cannot really understand the language of instruction, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to grasp the content of the subject. Often children simply just learn things by rote with little or no comprehension.”

In addressing the challenges of finding a balance between mother tongue and standard English education, Carol Bloch from Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa argues that “unless conditions are appropriate, it is very difficult to learn a foreign language well enough to learn through it.” Read the article here.


  • According to census 2011 (the latest available figures) Afrikaans is the third most popular language in SA (next to Zulu and Xhosa) with 6,8 million speakers.
  • Only 9,6% of South Africa’s population is English first language speakers.
  • UNESCO facts (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) support mother-tongue education:
    • 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty it they left school with basic reading skills.
    • Countries promoting mother-tongue education are in general more prosperous.
    • If you are educated in your mother tongue, your chances for furthering your studies and achieving success are so much greater.
    • It promotes the economic potential of a country’s labour market thus enhancing the economy.
    • Knowledge and insight gained through generations, are transferred and through this diversity a nation as a whole benefits as each mother tongue contributes its own insights, views and ideas towards a shared future.
    • Learners who are taught in their mother tongue, usually study for longer and their results are better compared to learners who are taught in their second language.