Original Research

Mother-tongue education in a multilingual township: Possibilities for recognising lok’shin lingua in South Africa

Rockie Sibanda
Reading & Writing | Vol 10, No 1 | a225 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v10i1.225 | © 2019 Rockie Sibanda | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 December 2018 | Published: 29 August 2019

About the author(s)

Rockie Sibanda, Department of Languages, Cultural Studies and Applied Linguistics, Faculty of Humanities, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Mother-tongue education in South African primary schools remains a challenge to policymakers. The situation is problematic in multilingual lok’shin (township) schools where the lok’shin lingua is not recognised as ‘standard’ language. This article raises the controversial possibility of positioning of lok’shin lingua in a formal education langscape.

Objectives: The article’s first purpose is to highlight recent international and local research which depicts controversies surrounding mother tongue instruction in primary schools. The second purpose is to conceptualise lok’shin lingua as a dialect present in children’s everyday vocabulary.

Method: Data was gathered through a qualitative approach using interviews. The interviews were conducted with parents and educators at a township in South Africa.

Results: Findings show notable differences in school language of instruction and the languages children speak outside school.

Conclusion: Mother tongue teaching is problematic as it is incongruent with learners’ language repertoires. Therefore, a call is made for the recognition of lok’shin lingua in educational contexts as a way to promote more research into mother-tongue education.


Dialect; home language; lok’shin lingua; langscape; township; mother tongue; multilingual; standard language.


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