Many Voices, Many Languages: Listening and Learning from South African Children

Michelle Pascoe, Mikateko Ndhambi, Olebeng Mahura, Nomfundo Peaceful Buthelezi, Nicole Husselmann, Babalwa Ludidi

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


South Africa is a country characterised by great linguistic and cultural diversity, with 11 languages officially recognised in its constitution. Despite the formal recognition of this language diversity, many of the languages are not well-researched, and children acquiring most of the indigenous languages are disadvantaged by a lack of resources, including speech-language assessments and professionals who share their first language. Our multilingual research team documents children’s early acquisition of South African languages, information needed for theoretical and applied purposes, particularly for the early identification and support of children with language difficulties. This chapter describes the starting point for some of these projects: listening to families, professionals who work with young children, and the children themselves. We describe the approaches we have taken to better understand the perspectives of families, professionals, and children regarding their experiences, needs, and challenges in a complex environment of linguistic diversity, social inequality, and extreme poverty. Findings from these engagements are described, together with the ways they informed our work and how we might improve this critical aspect of our research to promote social justice and equality for all children.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Publication series

NameInternational Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development
ISSN (Print)2468-8746
ISSN (Electronic)2468-8754


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