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Language is for Life

Life–long Learning is one of the principles underpinning the system of Adult Education and Training. This principle is concerned with the continual improvement of learning and skills acquisition to meet the demands of the economy, social development, as well as the needs of individuals. The European Commission definition of life-long learning is “All learning activity undertaken throughout life, with personal, civic, social and / or employment-related perspectives.” This means, in simple language, that as an individual builds and improves him/herself by being a life-long learner, he/she is adding to the economy, his/her family life as well as society. Firstly, it’s essential to understand that language is, in fact, essential for learning. The word” dyslexia” comes from the Greek meaning “difficult with words.” Dyslexia is also often referred to as a “particular” learning difficulty”. It can be deduced that if one struggles with language one struggles to learn. In the Language Policy and Plan for South Africa, point 9 is Language(s) of Learning and Teaching (LOLT). This point corroborates what this paragraph is about by stating, “Since language , as the instrument of learning and teaching, it is at the heart of all education….: Yes, language is the cornerstone of all learning. Language is for life. Secondly, language is a vital skill for the life-long learner. The changing life of the 21st century infiltrates all areas of our lives, especially the world of work. The jobs of today and careers of tomorrow call for honed skills and qualifications, and the capability of learning throughout our lives. Before, our parents were generally employed by one company for the whole of their working lives and often were only required to do one type of job. They were not required to learn many new skills. Today the terms “multi-skilling” and “up-skilling” are commonplace. Companies are looking for employees who are willing to be stretched, to learn new skills and not just remain in their comfort zones. This implies that, as I acquire more information (to perform new tasks at work), so too does my level of expertise in the language need to increase. The 21st century employee is also expected to gain and demonstrate not only competence in his chosen discipline, but he is required to communicate his knowledge, explain solving methods, and ask incisive questions. (Incidentally, employers consistently rate the ability to communicate as the number one characteristic they seek when considering candidates for employment) In conclusion, if I had the choice to teach someone a “survival skill” like bricklaying or panelbeating (so that they can earn money), or equip that person by improving his literacy skills, I would choose the latter. Why? Because language is the foundation of all learning, and will prove to be far more sustainable than merely fulfilling that person’s immediate needs. Sharon Blignaut Triple E Training Holdings (Pty) Ltd March 2014