The father of the rainbow nation, Nelson Mandela, once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
In terms of tongues, Mzansi has plenty to choose from – South Africa is among the rare nations on earth where bilingualism and even multilingualism are the norm, rather than the exception. Learning even just the basics of an additional local language or two has many benefits – chiefly offering us the chance to connect with our fellow South Africans on an entirely different level than we might have before.
Aside from aiding nation-building, learning a new language also stimulates and develops our cognitive abilities. More and more, employers are seeking employees that are able to speak more than one language, as multilingualism is becoming increasingly important in the corporate environment, too.
Whatever motivation you might have needed to learn additional South African languages, there are now many methods to do so. If you’re ready to embark upon your language-learning journey, here are four apps to help you learn South African languages.
The Zivo app has been around for a while and offers users the chance to learn Shona, isiZulu, Afrikaans, Setswana, Swahili and isiXhosa. It is available for download on Android devices.
On its website, Mzanzi Kids is described as a “multilanguage learning app (that) upholds the fundamentals of language acquisition before entering a schooling environment”. It is aimed at children between 2 and 6 years and is a great way to get your kids to learn a multitude of other local languages, including English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi and Setswana, while also mastering their mother tongue. It is available for Android And iOS.
Feed the Monster
A collaborative effort between a multitude of international and local organisations, this literacy app uses a gamified interface to teach children reading skills in all of South Africa’s 11 languages. It is focused on learners between the ages of six and eight. Feed the Monster can be downloaded onto Android devices to learn the following South African languages: isiZulu, Sepedi, Tshivenda, Setswana, Sesotho, isiXhosa, Siswati, isiNdebele, English, Afrikaans, and Xitsonga.
Sotho Phrases Language Tutor
Developed by the University of Cape Town, this app lets users practice the most common and useful Sesotho phrases. It can be downloaded onto Android devices.