Multilingual teachers' voices: Perceptions about the impact of language
Faculty of Education, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa
Many teachers in South Africa teach mainly in English, which is not their home language. In order to elicit their inner voices about language issues, 176 senior phase teachers in rural, peri-urban and urban regions of the Eastern Cape were encouraged to write poetry about their perceptions of the impact of language in their lives. The most prevalent conflict they expressed was the dominance of English juxtaposed against the subordination of their home languages, either isiXhosa or Afrikaans. They felt that English gave them access to education and upward employment mobility, whereas they were excluded from various discourses when they used their home languages. The use of poetry to understand how teachers make meaning of the potential conflicts caused by teaching in English revealed feelings and emotions that may not have been as obvious, or as evocative, if other data-gathering methods had been used. Further research is suggested strategies that could use both English and the pupils' home languages as a resource in multilingual classrooms. © 2012 Copyright The University of Johannesburg.