Language as a Barrier to Social Integration for Black African Students University

Author: Magas Pather (University of Johannesburg)
Speaker: Magas Pather
Topic: Sociolinguistics
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


Language is often perceived as a barrier in study abroad programmes as it may limit students’ opportunities to interact with the local cultures. The purpose of this research is to understand how the experiences of students particularly from African countries impact on their assimilation into South African communities.
Language is crucial to a person’s identity. It allows the individual to transfer knowledge and information, share feelings, tell stories and convey complex messages. Language is the conduit that allows us to relate and understand each other (Imberti, 2007). It can be defined as a system of concepts and symbols that allows us to communicate. It ensures us a defined frame of reference and a relational context that sustains our identities (Imberti, id).This study collected data from informal talks with students and workers in informal settlements living and working in Lenasia. The social identity theory (MA Hogg, 2016) concerns the understanding of psychological processes which form the foundation for intergroup discrimination. The inability to identify with another group can lead to negative attitudes towards such groups (Bartel, 2001). A sense of ignorance can exacerbate the situation which can result in periodic xenophobic outbursts as has been the case in South Africa and some European countries. Consequently, the understanding of the connection between language and social identity patterns is of great importance in understanding how effectively African students assimilate with their peers.

Keywords: Language, Language barrier, social integration, Xenophobia.