The logistics of language

With 11 official languages in South Africa, we live in a culturally diverse society and when you need help, you need help…

I confess. I have never had ability with languages. I struggled with Afrikaans at school and nearly lost my university exemption to it, only to discover to my horror that my chosen career had it listed as one of the required subjects. There I sat after lectures at 19 years of age with a set of headphones on my head repeating after a no-nonsense type of voice the correct syntax of a sentence… 

I have always felt a flash of envy when watching translators in action – they possess a freedom of communication that opens borders, cultures and whole networks of business and lives. Effortlessly, they seem able to switch not only languages and accents but the very way the tongue and jaw forms the sounds, mysteriously and instantaneously taking on the haughtiness of a Parisian or the gung-ho adventurism of an Alpine-climbing Bavarian. 

What wasn’t so available to me back in my day, was the availability of language learning facilities, and leading-edge technology on offer today that will launch learners into a borderless business world that will encompass the globe.

Whether you are a new learner at just over knee-height or a grizzled CEO stuck behind an oak desk, you have dedicated schools, universities, private facilities, and corporate and legal business assistance and services at your fingertips. 

The Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA) carries a list of language specific international schools offering language education in schools, eg the Deutsche Internationale Schule, Lycée Jules Verne, Crawford Preparatory, Waldorf and Redhill schools.

Fundamental to learning is the role of publishers. Heinemann Educational Publishers, Van Schaik and Via Afrika Publishers publish academic textbooks in all South Africa’s official languages and in all new learning areas. Projects such as the Reprint of South African Classics in Indigenous Languages promote reading of literature written in African languages even outside the school curriculum.

HSRC Press, due to the increasing numbers of computers and diffusion of the internet around the world, looked at localisation of the technology and the content it carries via its book ‘African Languages in a Digital Age: Challenges and opportunities for indigenous language computing’. 

Localisation includes translation and cultural adaptation of user interfaces and software applications, as well as the creation and translation of internet content in diverse languages.

Other private services include Alliance Française, the Goethe-Institut Johannesburg and businesses accredited to train legal translators for our South African Courts.

Along with corporate talks and presentations, Craig Charnock of Ubuntu Bridge, evolves corporates into the ‘new’ South Africa: “Craig’s classes inspired me more than I ever dreamed Xhosa classes would. The side-effects have been the building of stronger relationships with some of my colleagues, building greater trust, and allowing me to feel genuinely part of the real society of our country,” said Alan Dickinson, HR Director, SunAir International. 

Ubuntu Bridge offers free downloadable MP3’s via their newsletter and XHOSA FUNDIS CC, fully accredited with the ETDP SETA started teaching via Twitter in August 2009, with daily Xhosa phrase tweets also appearing on Facebook. 

Learn a new language or improve on a current language and access your world. 

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