ABET facilitates social mobility - Triple e Training

ABET facilitates social mobility

ABET or AET facilitates social mobility by teaching English literacy to your general workers.

In South Africa, English is the official language of business. Therefore, it is expected that all employees speak the dialect fluently. Even low-wage employees are anticipated to have some level of proficiency in the dialect. They do not necessarily have to write emails, proposals, reports and present in the language. However, they are expected to understand instructions communicated in written and spoken English. This is to avoid misunderstandings that lead to delays and even downtime, errors and waste. Many of these members of staff will also be presented an employee handbook when they start working at a company. It will probably be written in English. It is simply impractical and unfeasible to cater to all of the official languages spoken by South African citizens. This is hence the reason that one language was chosen as the formal dialect of business and politics.

Therefore, workers who are non-native English speakers may struggle to understand your vision, mission and ethos. Consequently, these workers will not be as engaged as they should be. They will also not be fully aware of or appreciate their respective roles in ensuring the overall success of the business. Without adequate English literacy skills, your employees may also skimp over important details in your standard-operating procedure. Worse still, they may not fully comprehend your safety, health, environment and quality protocol, potentially increasing your exposure to risk. This includes litigation and irreparable damage to your reputation, especially if you are operating in a highly regulated industry. Depending on the extent of non-compliance, operations can be shut down by authorities for extended periods or even indefinitely. This is in addition to the maximum penalties and, depending on the contravention, jail sentences criminal action imposed.

ABET raises English literacy skills

ABET or AET raises the English literacy skills of low- and semi-skilled employees.

In 1994, English was adopted as one of 11 official dialects, which are all recognised by the South African constitution. Refer to The SA Constitution (justice.gov.za).

It was chosen as the formal dialect of business and politics because it is politically neutral. However, only 3,5-million out of a population of 40-million actually speak English as a home language. This is just 9% of the total population. The vast majority of South Africans only really speak the language in the workplace, seldom practicing it home or in their communities. They mainly speak Zulu, Xhosa and Afrikaans outside the workplace.

Therefore, English skills in South African workplace are not always at the level that they should be.

A Grade 7 education is considered the divide between being able to speak English and professional proficiency needed to use more advanced skills. These include the ability to interact with information, integrate and think logically and critically.

Many South Africans only possess social proficiency in English. They can use the language to socialise but are unable to problem solve, an essential 21st century workplace skill.

These low-level skills are having a dire impact on the South African economy. It is projected that the country lost R873-billion in GDP in the 2014 fiscal year because the average South African performs at a Grade 7 level. This is opposed to Grade 9, a level where someone is considered to be functionally literate.

Someone who has completed adult literacy training possesses English literacy skills at a National Qualifications Framework Level 1. This is equivalent to someone who has passed Grade 9. English literacy skills at this level are considered to be the absolute minimum that people need to perform general and entry-level work.

ABET teaches essential workplace skills

ABET or AET teaches essential workplace skills, including English literacy.

Proficiency in English is no longer viewed as a soft skill. Extensive research has demonstrated the returns to English language proficiency among workers. One specifically investigated the returns to English language proficiency among African men in the South African labour market. Refer to (PDF) English language proficiency and earnings in a developing country: The case of South Africa (researchgate.net). The study was undertaken by Wits University researchers.

Almost all men in the sample were African language speakers, about 40% of whom were also proficient in English. They could, thus, read and write well in the language.

The study showed that there is a very high premium of more than 50% to English language proficiency among this group of individuals. Also, the inclusion of controls for English language proficiency in the earnings regression lowered the high returns to education in South Africa.

Further analysis demonstrated that the benefits of being proficient in English accrue particularly to those with a post-secondary education. African men with a post-secondary education are estimated to earn about 90% more if they are also proficient in English. This reinforces the notion that the two types of human capital are complimentary. Moreover, the findings suggest that South African employers use English language skills to screen the quality of employees’ higher education.

According to the research, there is little evidence that skills in an individual’s African home language are independently rewarded in the South African labour market. When both African and English language proficiency are included in earnings estimations, indigenous dialects no longer have an independent effect on earnings. However, the coefficient for English language proficiency remains significant.

ABET teaches language of success


ABET or AET teaches the language of success to your low- and semi-skilled employees. By the time that workers have completed adult literacy training, they will be proficient in English.

There is no doubt that people who are fluent in English have a better chance of succeeding in South African workplaces. This is considering the widespread use of the language in business.

One study has shown that English proficiency is also a significant contributor to the success of African immigrants in the local labour market. This is compared to their local counterparts who are not as proficient in the language. Refer to SA-TIED Working Paper #72: The effect of language on labour market success for immigrants and citizens in South Africa (unu.edu).

The study clearly demonstrates the importance of language, particularly English, in influencing labour market outcome.

Therefore, the findings of this study also motivate the development of English literacy skills among citizens. This is despite the move toward bilingualism in the country that supports African mother-tongue education. South African citizens are severely disadvantaged in the South African labour market without English literacy skills.

Meanwhile, the findings of a study by the North West University demonstrate the extent to which employers value good English skills. Refer to https://repository.nwu.ac.za/handle/10394/6258.

They indicate that most employers appreciate a well-written application letter. Many discriminate against what is termed “Black South African English”. Letters written in this English are considered the least comprehensible by potential employers. They are familiar with the grammatical lexical features of “Black South African English”. However, the British model of the language is still preferred in the workplace.

Nonetheless, many employers are open to the use of this variation of English in the workplace. This may point to the possibility of accepting re-standardisation of English in the future.

ABET learners master English

ABET or AET learners have an opportunity to master the basics of English literacy.

It is hardly surprising that so many South African parents want their children to study in English. This is considering the higher average earnings among those who are English language proficient.

South Africa has a very progressive Language-in Education Policy. However, most previously disadvantaged African schools have rejected mother-tongue education in favour of English as the language of instruction. In some instances, this policy has been implemented as early as Grade 1. However, experts agree that this was a misguided decision. Without appropriate language skills in their mother tongue, learners cannot acquire strong second-language skills. They are also unable to learn effectively in a second language.

Yet, the South African Social Attitudes Survey shows that support for English as the formal language of learning has been growing.

Undertaken since 2003, the South African Social Attitudes Survey – HSRC tracks public attitudes on important social and political issues. Every second year, those surveyed are asked what they think should be the main language of instruction from Grades 1 to 12.

In 2003, 55% of those surveyed preferred English as the language of instruction. This is compared to about 41% who favoured teaching to be undertaken in their home language during the foundational phase.

Thirteen years later, popular support for English as the language of instruction during these formative years had risen to 65%. This was the highest level since polling started.

In the 2018 survey, this trend persisted, and it has continued ever since.

The preference for English also extended into later years of education. In fact, the Human Sciences Research Council’s research showed that more people supported English as they became more educated. Refer to Home page Home page – HSRC.

ABET teaches South African English

ABET or AET teaches South African English literacy skills that are widely used in local workplaces.  

Notably, there is larger, more permanent and influential grouping of mother-tongue English speakers in the county. We also have a significantly higher standard of mother-tongue English. This is compared to countries such as India, Nigeria and Kenya. These countries also accepted English as their formal language of business and politics after gaining independence from their colonial masters.

However, South African English is unique. It is rooted in the region. Our English has assimilated words and patterns from the other 10 official South African languages since the arrival of the British in the Cape in 1806.

For example, it has appropriated many Afrikaans words. Among others, these include “boerewors”, “braai”, “dwaal”, “jol”, “laatlammetjie”, “lekker”, “middelmannetjie” and “springbok”.

South African English has also borrowed extensively from the Nguni languages, especially Xhosa and Zulu. Examples of words used in South African English include “bonsella”, “dagha”, “indaba”, “lobola”, “muti”, “spaza” and “tokoloshe”.

Our English even draws inspiration from Sotho languages, such as Sesotho, Sepedi and Setswana. Take for example words such as “Difaqane”, “mampara” and “marula” that are used in our English.

Traces of Indian Languages, especially Gujarati and Hindi, can also be found in South African English. For example, we use words such as “breyani”, “bunny-chow”, “Deepavali” and “samoosa”.

Considering our rich cultural history and diversity, other languages have also influenced the English that we speak today. We have even incorporated Portuguese words, such “bredie”, “kraal” and “padrao”, into our English.

Then there are the traces of the Khoisan languages that can also be found in South African English. Some examples of these languages in our English include the words “abba”, “dagga”, “eina”, “gogga”, “kierie” and “kudu”.

Malayo-Javanese words are also used. Some examples include “bobotie”, “pondokkie” and “sjambok”.

ABET teaches our unique English

ABET or AET teaches our unique English, literacy skills that we use every day in the world of work to communicate effectively.

The South African English speaker will also use novel expressions that have been translated from other languages, such as Xhosa and Zulu. A case in point is the common greeting “go well and stay well.” Then there are sayings such as “monkey’s wedding” and “to throw the bones.”

We have also adopted some Afrikaans phrases into our English dialect. Examples include “to cross one’s fingers” and to “suck one’s thumb” with the noun “thumbsuck” also used extensively by South African English speakers.

The language has also developed new senses of established English words. Take, for example, words such as “cubby hole”; “just now”; “location”; ‘motivation”; and “robot”.

We also use very old-fashioned English words, such as “geyser” and “bioscope” and have created new expressions that are uniquely South African. For example, such as “bundu bash”, “interleading”, “securocrat” and “skiboat” are uniquely ours.

A leader in AET

Triple E Training is a leader in ABET or AET, including adult literacy training.

Over more than 30 years, we have equipped hundreds of thousands of South African adults with English literacy skills. This is so that they too can excel in the workplace and, in doing so, improve their circumstances.

However, despite the best intentions of our clients, the illiteracy crisis in the country is deepening. Only a concerted effort by both the public and private sectors will arrest the situation.

According to a study undertaken by the World Literacy Foundation [https://worldliteracyfoundation.org/], illiteracy costs the country more than R100-billion. This is mainly as a result of reduced earning capacity and social costs. These include poor outcomes, such as poverty, unemployment, social exclusion, crime and long-term illness.

The University of Pretoria’s researchers have found that reading in South Africa has not improved. In fact, it has deteriorated significantly after the outbreak of Covid-19. They undertook a component of the progress in International Reading Literacy Study on reading and literacy levels among grade four and five learners. Refer to https://www.up.ac.za/research-matters/article/2801832/ten-year-study-shows-south-african-school-reading-literacy-is-slow-to-improve.

It was the Saint Lucian poet and writer who said: “The English Language is nobody’s special property. It is the property of the imagination. It is the property of language itself.” We agree! All South Africans should be given the opportunity to master the language so that they too can achieve their goals.

Learn how you too can play your part in breaking the back of illiteracy that is holding us back as a country by partnering with Triple E Training. www.eee.co.za

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Unlock the Full Potential of Your Employees. Leave your details & our team get back to you.

Note: Please be assured that all personal data submitted is handled with the utmost confidentiality & will only be used for the purpose of addressing your inquiries.