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Shaping language policy and practice in South Africa : the next twenty years

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As provisions made in the founding Constitution (1996), concerning access to home language education continue to be contested in South Africa, this paper sketches some of the new challenges on the horizon in light of research concerning multilingualism in education.

These challenges have also to be contextualised within the last twenty years of participatory democracy. While some perspectives suggest that language planning is central still to the political transformation project, perspectives offered by research have implications for teacher training for multilingual classroom settings.

Robert J Balfour is an applied linguist specialising in language acquisition with a focus on writing and reading skills development for EAL students secondary schools. He has also published widely on language policy development with a view to the encouragement of multilingualism and bilingualism in schools. Current serving as Dean of Education at NWU in South Africa, his recent research on education has been in relation to language planning and change, particularly in the context of rural education in South Africa.

Robert is Visiting Scholar to the Faculty of Education (Cambridge) and is writing a book with CUP whilst on sabbatical leave, on a 20 year overview of education reform in South Africa (1995-2014). He completed his PhD in Cambridge (1999) and has worked at the Universities of Natal, KwaZulu-Natal, St Augustines and most recently at North West University.

He has edited five special issues of journals on language education and rural education, and three edited books in similar fields; he also serves on the Editorial Board of the Language Learning Journal.

This talk is part of the Second Language Education Group series.

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