The hegemonic position of English as a medium of instruction at primary school level in KwaZulu-Natal, and its impact on parents' preferences of schooling for their children
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This study is concerned with the choices parents of second language learners make with regard to the schooling of their children in respect of medium of instruction, and explores the reasons why parents choose to disregard education in their mother tongue in favour of English as a medium of instruction. This is contrary to the Language in Education Policy, as the Department of Education instils in principals, educators and parents the need for children at primary school level to be taught in their mother tongue. The theoretical framework used to address the problem was the Critical Language Approach, this being an appropriate position from which to investigate language and power. A combination of questionnaires, interviews and observation was used to acquire data from parents and management in a large primary school in KwaZulu-Natal. After analysis of the data, which confirmed the hegemonic position of English as influencing choice of medium of instruction by parents of English second language learners, a model was developed to assist them to see the possible consequences of various choices. The model comprised a tenpoint questionnaire to identify needs, a flow chart diagram resulting from the needs analysis, a pictograph to assist stakeholders to understand the relevant choices available, and workshops to support the choice of medium of instruction. The value of the research, it is thought, lies in clarifying the various influences at play, in particular, the hegemonic position of English, and offering stakeholders a rational, rather than political or emotional basis for the choice of medium of instruction for second language learners, as well as pointing out the possible consequences of such choices.