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It is a little-known fact that Afrikaans is the most widely spoken language in South Africa. Although it follows Zulu (23%) and Xhosa (16%), in terms of the number of native speakers, it is (at 14%), geographically the most widely spoken and is used in all of the country’s nine provinces. You will even encounter sizeable pockets of users of the language in Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
According to a 2016 census, Afrikaans native speakers amounted to about 7 million, while around 10 million utilised it as a second language. Estimates of how many users there are at all levels range between 15 and 23 million in a country with a population of approximately 59 million (2019).
People from diverse backgrounds utilise it, if not as a first language, then as an easy-to-switch-to second-, and in some cases, third language.
South Africans use the language on a daily basis for conversation, schooling and to conduct business. It is spoken with great relish on the Cape Flats of Cape Town where many people use it exclusively and only utilise English while at school or in formal settings, where their dialogue partner speaks no Afrikaans, which is not common.
With only three tenses to contend with, Afrikaans is regarded as an easy language to learn. An off-shoot of Dutch, which reached South Africa’s shores in the late 1600’s, almost 95% of its vocabulary can be traced back to Dutch. Despite this fact, the language developed and took on its own distinct character as it was influenced by the Khoisan languages, German and even has certain Malaysian influences.
Since the language can be encountered in all corners of South Africa, a working knowledge of Afrikaans would always be helpful and opportunities to attend Afrikaans language classes abound. The South African Race Relations Institute (SARRL) has ascertained that Afrikaans-speaking individuals have a higher rate of employment than speakers of any of the other official languages. A pretty good reason to study it, right?
The language is widely spoken in the economic powerhouses of the Western Cape and Gauteng. Thus, studying Afrikaans will positively impact on your prospects of landing a coveted position as a frontline or healthcare worker, accountant, call-centre agent, teacher, media specialist or lawyer. Having Afrikaans in your arsenal of skills, could almost guarantee you a post in some of the most beautiful little towns in the country, given the severe shortage of Afrikaans teachers.
If you were a touring through South Africa, being conversant in Afrikaans will afford you the opportunity to connect with people you may otherwise have missed. These encounters will, no doubt, enrich your experience, because Afrikaans speakers will proudly share their love of the language, the country and its history (their heritage). Afrikaans speakers are so proud of their language that they have erected a monument in Paarl in the Western Cape Province.
A businessperson, who travels between Europe and South Africa would benefit from Afrikaans extra classes, as s/he will undoubtedly run into an Afrikaans-speaker in many major cities around the globe. There are large concentrations of these folks in places like London and even the USA, where there are Afrikaans-speakers in almost every state.
Most universities offer lectures in English and Afrikaans, while some primarily use the latter. Being fluent in Afrikaans would then definitely be to your advantage. This would especially be true in a situation where, while all notes/resources are available in English, lectures are presented only in Afrikaans.
Afrikaans is also an easy, fun language to learn. In comparison to many other languages, it quite easy to learn as it uses a singular gender. Also sounding out words can lead to their proper pronunciation and conjugations of verbs have been removed. The fun part appears when English-speakers discover how aptly Afrikaans words describe something and how literally they translate. For instance, the term “aardvark” means “earth pig” in English. Many English natives enjoy these earthy discoveries and discovering what a “braai” is and why the food there is described as “lekker”.
Some interesting people have their roots deep in South Africa, like Elon Musk, billionaire founder of SpaceX and the world-famous actress Charlize Theron, who still uses Afrikaans in her interaction with family and close friends. So, you’ll be in good company.
You will benefit tremendously from taking Afrikaans lessons directly from a native speaker who can help you with the correct pronunciation of words as well as register, which is an indication of whether the tone is formal, informal or slang. Taking classes, of course, presents the advantage of formalising your learning and expanding it in a very structured way. A combination of the two methods would, no doubt, be the absolute ideal!
A number of options to study Afrikaans are available online, with Google Play even offering an application to assist novices. This will allow you to practise your newfound language in your car, at home or even on your way to a social event. The sky’s the limit!
Some free online courses are conducted by native speakers whose lessons have been pre-recorded. Here learners can listen to the language being spoken, read stories and even complete crossword puzzles. This is a great way to expand your vocabulary!
One language teaching centre offers part-time as well as full-time classes, which are run twice a week between 15:30 and 19:00. Class sizes are limited to 8 students, but these are only run in Cape Town. Alternately, students can access their services online. The centre aims to make students conversant and comfortable in the use of Afrikaans.
Most schools throughout the country offer Afrikaans as a language of instruction as learners have to study at least two languages, one at first language level and the other as an additional language.
Which brings us to colleges and universities. Institutions of higher learning, throughout South Africa, generally offer Afrikaans as a subject and as a medium of instruction. Courses range from under-graduate all the way through to post-graduate programmes. The University of South Africa (Unisa) which offers distance learning, even has beginner-level courses and caters for studies right up to doctorate level.
Where can I find an Afrikaans tutor near me?
If you’re asking are there Afrikaans classes near me, there are many options: from newspaper ads and notice boards in your local supermarket and library. Many people also advertise their services on social media platforms and on the Internet.
Superprof is an excellent portal which offers you qualified and vetted tutors who are dedicated to helping you succeed in your chosen field of study, in this case, Afrikaans. The Superprof portal makes finding a professional tutor close to you easy. Here you can browse through their qualifications and levels of experience before selecting the one most suited to your location and preference. Tutors generally respond to students in under two hours and often offer the first lesson at no charge. They avail themselves online or at a student’s home, whichever method of contact you desire. So, don’t delay! Get surfing (online) right away!