Reflecting on the contexts of destination language learning

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 39, issue 3, 2019 , pages: 228–238
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2019.1672317
Author(s): Aloysius N ConduahDepartment of Linguistics and Modern Languages, School of Arts, South Africa


As migration continues to assume global proportions with ripple effects in various destination countries, migrants’ ability to learn and use destination languages has become a subject for in-depth studies. Biographies of six Ghanaian immigrants, who were a part of 115 respondents, were selected for discussion to explore the contexts in which these immigrants learned indigenous African languages and other destination languages. In-depth interviews and a questionnaire were used to elicit information. The discussion of the data based on different geographical and linguistic contexts concluded that competence in a destination language can emerge from the encouragement immigrants receive from members of the host speech community, as well as the use of interactional routines and the destination language to communicate with the speech community members. Power relations, differences in social and economic status and the need to focus on one language among other languages in context tend to create challenges for destination language learning. Finally, socio-cognitive affordances provide opportunities for in-depth knowledge of the languages. This article contributes to the literature by drawing on three linguistic contexts in South Africa, two in Nigeria, one in Libya, one in Belgium and one in Germany.

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