Thulane Radebe

Co-Curator, TEDxYouthMLP

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The idea i'm proposing is that schools in South Africa and Africa at large should consider teaching children in their 1st language.

Drawing from what Mr Hetain Patel says about research and logic proving that we think in our 1st language and so we filter and code information in our 1st language. It becomes increasingly difficult to learn sciences and mathematics in english if you don't even understand what the word calculus means in the 1st place.
English as a universal language is vital for global communication but to allow our kids to be able to grasp education imparted at school we need to allow them to be able to think and filter that knowledge in a language they understand best.

  • Nov 18 2013: First of all, if a student is mature enough (i.e. Having the ability to understand what the material content in a calculus course ), then s/he should be able to follow the English language used in the English textbooks in calculus. For any textbooks in mathematics, the vocabulary involved are really very limited, so it shouldn't be very difficult to learn it in English. Moreover, what is the purpose of learning calculus, if the student can't read any materials , such as the instructions in English, French or Dutch, of any machine , scientific instrument or video introduction involving any numbers, physics or chemistry the student will see later on in their life?
    Also, it is really not that difficult to translate the class materials from English (or French) into the native language. Because, especially for science, as contrasted with literature, the vocabulary used in the sciences and mathematics are quite limited in scope, so that they could be reasonably translated by certain internet based translation software. If you look at the student in Japan, they do learn many scientific terms starting in elementary schools, but the course materials involved in scientific terms were just straight conversion of the pronunciation from English into Japanese characters, and of course they are used for Japanese of all ages. And you know that the Japanese are quite good in research and engineering in their economic development. What I am saying is that it wouldn't be too difficult to convert the textbooks or teaching materials into any local language, if the local government or education agencies try to set up a small group of scholars to develop or handle such conversion of the teaching materials.
  • Nov 18 2013: I can only speak about Asian families but many children grow up in houses that speaking the language of their ancestors (i.e. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.) but they speak perfect English and on the street they speak in a street dialect. So i would suggest teaching English.
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    Nov 18 2013: thulane, if you want more time on this, click "edit" and add more. Right now you have 13 hours.
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    Nov 18 2013: Fortunately in SA all these 1st languages have provinces they are linked with, in regards to the tribe,clan or tradition. I'm not discarding the universal language as a 2nd language. Kids are struggling to grasp basic knowledge, only because the languages they are taught in at schools are not the languages they communicate with their peers or family like they do in the Arabic countries. They need to translate that information 1st and then try understand it without omitting or losing the important staff.
  • Nov 18 2013: I don't know that I think that a universal language is necessary with technology offering a lot in translation these days. And South Africa has something like a dozen official languages (if memory serves me!), how would schools teach in that many first languages?