It seems language learning is a hot topic, most especially indigenous African languages; this since Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that it would be compulsory for all learners from Grade R onwards (through a phased roll-out strategy) would have to learn an indigenous African language in addition to English and Afrikaans. And undergraduates at the University of KZN not proficient in Zulu would need register for conversation Zulu classes in order to graduate.

We commend our government for seeing the infinite value of raising a generation able to communicate across the cultural divide, however, all research shows that after the age of 6yrs a child’s ability to acquire language rapidly decreases. This is not to say that it cannot happen, but from what LinguaMites has seen first hand is the enthusiasm with which toddlers and infants approach life and language. Learning about emotions, colours, the names of their body parts and the animals that live in the ocean and the jungle is an exciting journey that they want to embark on. Teaching a 7 yr old child these basics will undoubtedly bore them from day one and then you are fighting a losing battle I am sorry to say. Moreover, this addition of languages into the schools will result in a longer school day – up to an hour a day for Grades 4 and up.

At LinguaMites we believe that without the context/environment for language, it is almost impossible to acquire a new language. Sitting in class for an extra hour of school a day while they drill you with vocabulary and forced conversations to learn by heart is not the way to teach a child language. It must be experiential, it must be necessary, and it must be part of their every day life. Taking the child to a township for an hour a day would prove more fruitful!

But we agree wholeheartedly that the next generation of learners in this country must be able to speak at least one indigenous African language if some of our country’s problems are to be tackled in their future. I don’t know any South African that doesn’t wish they could communicate with the almost parallel world that exists around them to which they are not privy to because they cannot understand what is being said. We should want better for our children, and so they should be learning an African language at all costs.

LinguaMites provides what we believe is the very best way to introduce your child to isiZulu, the most widely spoken African language in South Africa. In an environment where they get to, and have to, speak it every day. They do so while learning the foundations of all language learning, and they do it while they are playing, and drawing and jumping around on the trampoline with their friends. The language becomes real to them, and by the time they are in Grade R – when speaking an African language becomes necessary in formal schools – they will have already learnt the grades 1 through 3 syllabus and be more than comfortable to spend the extra hour of school conversing in Zulu with their native-Zulu speaking friends. Yes, this is the future.