Second language acquisition and the national curriculum

  • GA Dampier
Keywords: language policy, the national curriculum, additive bilingualism, English as a second language, Universal Grammar.


This article presents a critique of the way in which additional language teaching in the foundation phase has traditionally been conceptualised in South African education. I argue that the curriculum has no clearly defined theory of how language is acquired and that it relies on a concept (viz. additive bilingualism) that never makes the process explicit. Additive bilingualism is seen as the solution to the problem of English second language acquisition, and for most learners English becomes the language of teaching and learning in the intermediate phase. I argue that the pedagogic process of introducing the first additional language (FAL) has not been interrogated thoroughly at a theoretical level, which has profound consequences for the classroom. The curriculum’s proposal of how to facilitate the acquisition of the FAL appears to fulfil economic and cultural ideals at the expense of educational parity and epistemic access. Meeting the constitutional ideals of maintaining diversity while integrating into the global market place will be more feasible if alternate models of bilingualism are considered.

Key words: language policy, the national curriculum, additive bilingualism, English as a second language, Universal Grammar.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0259-9570