Home Institution

George Washington University

Publication Date

Fall 2013

Program Name

South Africa: Multiculturalism and Human Rights


The negotiations between the African National Congress (ANC) and the National Party in 1992 led to the creation of South Africa’s eleven national languages including English and Afrikaans. This paper discusses the intricate relationship between these two languages at the University of Stellenbosch. This project attempts to understand how undergraduate and postgraduate students have negotiated the rise of English as a universal academic language and the maintenance of Afrikaans as Stellenbosch’s core language of instruction. The project works to determine how students view the changes to the policy and how those changes affect them, looking particularly at the effect of dual-medium instruction between English and Afrikaans.

To give context to the current language debate occurring at the University of Stellenbosch, I give a brief summary of South African language policy at the tertiary level and at the University of Stellenbosch. Then after analyzing data gathered in interviews with undergraduate and postgraduate students, this paper examines the effect of bilingual instruction on the students and how they view the growing pressure on the University of Stellenbosch to Anglicize its courses.

The findings of this project have determined that language policy at the University of Stellenbosch is much different from the language practices at the institution. In fact, the language practices of some undergraduate and postgraduate students actually contradict the current policies put in place by the University and the South African government. This study has shown that language practice at the University is fueled by the international demand for English speakers while competing with the deep-rooted Afrikaans tradition.


Community-Based Research | First and Second Language Acquisition | Linguistics


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