What do you think about language diversity?
Language diversity is an important topic for all South Africans to consider since we have 11 official languages. This means that we are challenged when it comes to being able to communicate with one another. This challenge presents itself in various forms, from the workplace to people’s daily lives and personal outlooks surrounding different cultures. Language diversity also influences important issues such as education, Government and adoption.
Adoption in South African families is a good example of the language challenges South Africans face. If a family decides to adopt a child from another language, they are essentially uprooting the child from its heritage. If the child is only a baby when it’s adopted, it should be able to integrate into its new family with relative ease, because culture is learned and not inherited. However, if the child is a bit older and has lived some of his/her formative years in his/her original language and culture, the adoptive parents run the risk of not being able to fully understand their child, its unique cultural/ethnic needs/beliefs and/or methods of communication.
Families who adopt toddlers, children and/or teenagers from different cultural and language backgrounds will only be able to cope with the unique parental challenges they will face through undertaking to learn about the community their child is from. Although it is important for such parents to integrate their adoptive children into their own cultural practices, so that the child feels truly part of the new family, it is also important that the child’s traditional beliefs and practices are understood by the parents, and where required, integrated into the family.
One of the ways in which the adoptive parents may need to integrate the child’s heritage into their family is through learning and using more than one language in the home. If the child’s adoptive parents do not speak the child’s mother tongue, this...
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