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Language courses in South Africa

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Last update on December 27, 2018

If you’ve looking for a language course in South Africa, we offer these tips on how and where to find the language classes you need.

Just moved to South Africa? Want to integrate into South African society? Taking a language course can certainly ease your transition into the South African lifestyle. You can easily find a language course in South Africa to suit your language learning needs, however, you will first need to decide which language you want to learn in South Africa.

11 official languages

As a newcomer, you need to know that South Africa has 11 official languages, as well as many other non-official ones. The official languages, arranged by popularity, are isiZulu, IsiXhosa, Afrikaans, Sesotho sa Leboa, Setswana, English, Sesotho, Xitsonga, SiSwati, Tshivenda, and IsiNdebele. However, English and Afrikaans are the most commonly used in public life, politics and media. For example, official documents are generally written in either Afrikaans or English. So, as an expat, you should learn at least one of the two in order to manage in the South African environment.

Language courses in South Africa

Expats should keep in mind that in South Africa there are neither obligatory, nor subsidised language courses. Therefore, the decision to learn a language and the arrangements around the types of classes and tuition fees depend wholly on the individual.

Studying the local languages

If you come from abroad and you are interested in studying one of the local languages, you should know that there are many language schools, both public and private. Prices vary depending on the skill level, course duration and programmes of the language school.

Some universities, such as the University of Witwatersrand and Rhodes University, offer language courses along with their academic program. For example, Rhodes University offers IsiXhosa language classes as an additional language or as a first language, while the University of Witwatersrand has established Wits Language School, a language school in its Faculty of Humanities.

Wits Language School offers part-time classes in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Zulu and South African Sign Language. So, you can easily learn or upgrade your knowledge of the local languages, even when studying at the university in English.

Language schools

There are many other language schools in the country offering classes not only in local languages, but also in other European or Asian languages, such as Dutch, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. For example, Cape Town is becoming famous for the variety of language programs it offers, since it is one of the most common tourist destinations. One of the best English language schools there is Cape Studies Language School.

For more information on language schools and programmes in South Africa, visit Expatica’s listings here.