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Two new South African languages added to children's reading campaign

Written by: Megan Ellis

National reading campaign Nal’ibali has now added two new South African languages to their newspaper supplements so that more children can enjoy reading in their home language.

The latest languages to be added to the campaign are Setswana and Xitsonga, with supplements in these languages becoming available from mid-April.

With the latest additions, the Nal’ibali supplements are now available in eight languages: English, Setswana, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Afrikaans, Sesotho, Sepedi and Xitsonga.

The campaign advocates reading for enjoyment and strongly believes that children should have the opportunity to read and write in their home language.

The bilingual supplements are available every two weeks in Tiso Blackstar (formerly Times Media Group) newspapers during school term times.

“The importance of mother language preservation and promotion is critical and should be addressed as such. People learn and understand better when lessons are conducted in a language they know and understand well."

Gezani Chabalala, Nal’ibali Xitsonga language editor

Chabalala explains that language, culture and identity are intertwined, so it's incredibly important to allow children to preserve their heritage through opportunities to read and write in their home language.

This is also part of Nal’ibali's core ethos, which believes that the ability to read in one's home language helps improve literacy development, as readers are able to fully understand what they are listening to and reading.

"Real understanding makes it meaningful and enjoyable which is significant for raising readers."

Nal’ibali

This added element of enjoyment and understanding helps to foster a culture of reading in South Africa.

“I would like to commend Nal'ibali for giving the Batswana children, and children of other languages, an opportunity to read interesting stories in their own language! It is a great effort towards ensuring we cultivate a culture of reading in our children, at the same time preserving our language."

Opelo Thole, Nal’ibali Setswana language editor

"In my opinion, children who can write and read in their language can easily learn other languages. Through storytelling, with special reference to Setswana, our language and culture will be hugely promoted, as Nal'ibali urges children to interact with others, to use their imagination and to learn from these stories."

Opelo Thole, Nal’ibali Setswana language editor

The campaign distributes 147 600 supplements every two weeks, with two languages included in each supplement. The languages used for the supplement are dependent on location and publication.

The following newspapers carry the supplements in the following language combinations:

  • Sunday World (North West Province) – English and Setswana - Sundays
  • English and Xitsonga supplements will be available at selected SA Post Offices and reading clubs in Limpopo
  • Sunday Times Express (Western Cape) – English and isiXhosa – Sundays
  • Sunday World (KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng) – English and isiZulu – Sundays
  • Sunday World (Free State) – English and Sesotho – Sundays
  • Sunday World (Limpopo) – English and Sepedi– Sundays
  • The Herald (Thursdays) and Daily Dispatch (Tuesdays) (Eastern Cape) – English and isiXhosa.

While the supplements are distributed only during school times, the campaign also distributes 53 000 free supplements to various reading clubs, community libraries, organisations, schools and other partners every week.

A limited number of free supplements are also available at select post offices in Limpopo and North West.

However if you miss out on getting a hard copy of a supplement, you will be able to download digital copies of the stories. Visit www.nalibali.org or www.nalibali.mobi, or find them on Facebook and Twitter: @nalibaliSA.




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