English And Me Essays

Author: Zimasa Govuzela (Grade 12)
School: LEAP Science and Maths School
Publisher: FunDza Literacy Trust
Non fiction: Essay

Language and Me

Languages, to me, define who we are. Our accents categorise us. I’m a Xhosa woman who can speak two other languages, English and Afrikaans. I express myself using different languages. People gossip about me, not knowing that I can understand their language. I gossip about them, knowing who they are and what languages they speak.

In my community English is seen as a fancy language because people think only educated people are known to speak it. In all my school life I have attended white schools. I went to Holy Cross Primary then to Oude Molen. From there I came to LEAP. When I speak English people see me as a ‘Coconut’ or a ‘Cheese girl’. Then they think that I am better than them. It’s irritating to get these comments because they are not true. English, the language, is a borrowed language to me. When I speak it, it’s like I’m trapped inside. It’s like reciting a tongue twister.

isi Xhosa is a great language.  I speak it without having to worry about my mistakes; like using ‘he’ instead of ‘she’ or writing ‘leave’ instead of ‘live’. I’m a proud Xhosa woman. The language is connected to our culture. There are a lot of things in our culture like initiation for the boys, isiduko (clan names), imbeleko, (done for children), umendo (traditional weddings for women and so on.

isi Xhosa is a language that people undermine. If you speak isiXhosa, most people will say ‘Uliquba’ (not educated) especially if you are from ezilalini (rural areas). Who are they to choose your language? People don’t get the idea that most Xhosa speaking  people are very good Xhosa speakers and writers. When people here the clicks they get irritated because they don’t understand what we are saying. I embrace isiXhosa.

Afrikaans is one of the languages I understand and know  howto speak. But when I speak Afrikaans it feels like I’ve borrowed it too. Whatever I say, I don’t mean it, because it is not my language. The irritating thing is that Afrikaans speakers/people are quickly judged. They say that you do drugs, you smoke etc. People say, ‘Jy is skelm’. How is a person supposed to feel when they hear that?

Afrikaans is a language of Southern Africa derived from Dutch. People should be honoured by this, I know that I am. Even though Afrikaans is not my home language I love to hear people speaking it and I love speaking it myself. Afrikaans is ´n ‘gevaarlike taal’ as the Afrikaans people say.

When I speak Afrikaans people give me a funny look because I’m black. It is mostly known that if you are black you speak isiXhosa. If you are white you speak English. If you are coloured you speak Afrikaans. I have misjudged people because of the way they look.

One time I gossiped about a person on a camp that I attended, not knowing that he was bilingual. After a day I heard him speaking isiXhosa and I was shocked and surprised. I quickly apologised for my improper behaviour.  That taught me not to judge people by the colour of their skin.

Language is a meaningful aspect of life. Everything about you revolves around the language you speak and the culture you come from.

Embrace your language and be proud of it.  I am.




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Effective writers use a variety of types of sentences to keep the reader interested in what they are reading. Here are some of the different ways to write English sentences:

1. Use Transition Words to connect ideas in sentences. Pay attention to how you begin and end your sentences. Use sentence beginnings and endings to cue readers about your most important point

Readers expect what they already know to be at the beginning of a sentence and new information at the end. One way to put this is that the beginning of the sentence or paragraph should transition/show relationship of a new idea to what you've said previously.

Everyone knows that teachers earn low wages. In spite of meager salaries, most teachers report great satisfaction with their jobs; however, most teachers quit after five years. Is this high turnover rate caused by the fact that the profession is dominated by women? No one knows for sure but statistics indicate---

2. Use Cumulative sentences: start with the main idea and then add modifiers to amplify or illustrate it.

  • Mary Morrison became a teacher because she wanted to open minds, instill values and create new opportunities for students who lived in poor, inner-city housing projects.

3. Use Periodic sentences: start with the modifiers and put the main idea at the end.

  • Blowing roofs off buildings, knocking down many trees, and severing power lines, the storm caused extensive damage.

Use a variation of the periodic sentence which has: subject, modifiers, verb.

  • Raul Martinez, who works in jeans and loafers and likes to let a question cure in the air before answering it, never fit in with the corporate environment.

4. Use Balanced Sentences: two main clauses which are parallel in their structure are put together. This often works is the two clauses have a contrasting meaning.

  • The fickleness of the women I love is equaled only by the infernal constancy of the women who love me. (Shaw)
  • If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. (George Orwell)

5. Use different lengths of sentences. Most English sentences are 1-2 times of printed type. Make your sentences more interesting by having some sentences which are very short, and a few that are longer.

6. Use Occasional Questions? Exclamations! or Commands. Don't overdo this one, but it can be very effective to occasionally use one of these sorts of sentences to speak more directly to your reader.


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