If you’re planning a trip to South Africa, you might wonder. Do people speak English in South Africa? The answer is yes, as it is one of the official languages there.
Although some places can be challenging to get by, with just English. This article will help you explore the topic better. And give some useful tips. So, keep reading!
Do People Speak English In South Africa?
Whether you’re planning a trip to South Africa or just curious about the local language scene.
You may wonder: do people speak English in South Africa?
The answer is both yes and no. While English is one of the official languages of South Africa. It’s far from the only language spoken here.
In fact, according to the latest census data. Over 60% of South Africans speak another language as their first language.
So if you’re looking to brush up on your Afrikaans or Zulu before your trip.
Yes, people in South Africa speak English. English is one of the country’s 11 official languages. However, it is not the most widely spoken language in the country.
That distinction goes to Zulu, spoken by about a quarter of the population.
Other widely spoken languages in South Africa include Afrikaans, Xhosa, and Sesotho.
Official Language Of South Africa
Yes, the official language of South Africa is English. However, this does not mean that English is the only language spoken in the country.
South Africa has eleven official languages. Afrikaans and English are the most widely spoken out of those eleven. With over 8 million and 6 million speakers, respectively.
The official languages of South Africa are Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho sa Leboa, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, and Xitsonga.
In 2010 the country’s constitutional court described them as “national.” Rather than “official” languages.
To correct the impression that there were fewer official languages than national ones.
The eleven official languages of South Africa are:
What Percentage Of South Africans Speak English?
It is reasonable to say that most South Africans speak English. But it is not the most commonly spoken language in the country.
According to the 2011 census, only 13.35% of the population speaks English as their first language.
That puts English in fourth place, behind IsiZulu (22.65%), IsiXhosa (16%), and Afrikaans (14.15%).
However, English is still the most widely spoken second language in South Africa. 38.6% of people report that they can speak it “well” or “very well.”
What Language is Mostly Spoken In South Africa?
English is one of the official languages of South Africa . But, it isn’t the most commonly spoken language in the country.
According to a 2015 Stats SA report, Only about 8.2% of South Africans speak English as their first language.
How Widely Spoken Is English In South Africa?
The answer to this question depends on who you ask. Some people will tell you that English is the most widely spoken language in South Africa.
While others will say that a minority of the population only speaks English. The truth is somewhere in between these two extremes.
According to the most recent census data. Around 50% of the population speaks English as their first language.
However, this number drops to around 20% when you look at the entire population. That includes those who speak other languages as their first language.
That means English is not as widely spoken in South Africa as some think. But it is still one of the most commonly used languages in the country.
How Many People Know English In South Africa?
Despite English being one of South Africa’s 11 official languages. It is only spoken as a first language by around 10% of the population.
Most English speakers in South Africa are white (68%). Followed by Indian/Asian (18%) and colored (9%) people.
Around 22 million South Africans don’t speak English as their first language.
Instead, the most common first languages spoken in South Africa are Zulu (23%) and Xhosa (16%). Plus Afrikaans (14%), and Northern Sotho (9%).
English Language In the South African Education System
In 1992, the South African parliament passed the Language in Education Policy.
This policy aimed at promoting multilingualism and equal educational opportunities in South Africans.
As part of this policy, English got designated as the language of instruction in all schools.
Since then, the role of English in the education system has been controversial.
Some people argue that English should be the only language of instruction. It is the language of opportunity.
Plus, it will give children from all backgrounds a better chance of success.
Others argue that teaching in English excludes non-English speakers and perpetuates inequality.
The debate is likely to continue for some time. While English remains an important language in South Africa in education and society.
Is South Africa A Majority English Speaking Country?
In short, No. According to the 2016 Census. A total of 8.2 million people in South Africa (out of 54 million) speak English as their first language.
That’s just 15% of the population. The other 85% of South Africans speak one of the 11 official languages as their first language.
What Cities In South Africa Have Most English Speakers?
There are many different languages spoken in South Africa, but the most common one is English.
According to a recent study. About 60% of the population speaks English as their first language.
That means that more than 30 million people in South Africa speak English.
How Good Are South Africans At Speaking English?
That is a difficult question to answer. While English is one of the official languages of South Africa, it is not always spoken as a first language.
Additionally, the level of English proficiency can vary greatly from person to person.
In general, however, most South Africans can hold a conversation in English easily.
Can You Travel To South Africa Knowing Only English?
Many people assume that since South Africa is an English-speaking country. Everyone there speaks English.
However, this is not the case. Although English is the official language of South Africa.
Only about 8% of the population speaks it as their first language. Most South Africans speak one of the country’s 11 official languages.
So, if you’re planning to travel to South Africa. Learning some basic phrases in one of the country’s other languages is a good idea.
That will help you communicate with locals and make your trip more enjoyable.
History Of English In South Africa
The history of English in South Africa began in 1652 with establishment of a Dutch colony at the Cape of Good Hope.
English got introduced to the country in 1795. When Britain occupied the Cape during the Napoleonic Wars.
The British remained at the Cape until 1815, when they handed it back to the Netherlands. Under the terms of the Congress of Vienna.
The Dutch settlers, known as Boers, were unhappy with British rule.
In 1835, they began a mass migration. Known as the Great Trek northward into unexplored territory.
That led to the establishment of two Boer republics: the Transvaal and Orange Free States.
Britain annexed the Transvaal in 1877. And got forced into recognizing it as an independent republic. Following the Boer War of 1899-1902.
In 1910, these four territories unified as the Union of South Africa.
Afrikaans is a language derived from Dutch.
It became increasingly prominent during this time. And got recognized as an official language alongside English in 1925.
Today, English is widely spoken throughout South Africa. And used as the predominant language in government and commerce.
Afrikaans remains an important language. Especially among Afrikaners. But its use has declined significantly since apartheid ended in 1994.
Tips For English Speakers Traveling South Africa
English is one of South Africa’s official languages. Spoken alongside Afrikaans, Ndebele, and Zulu.
So, rest assured that you’ll be able to get by during your travels!
However, with such a diverse range of languages spoken in the country.
You may find that some locals mix English with their mother tongue. That is ‘code-switching‘ and is perfectly normal.
Here are a few tips to help you communicate more effectively during your travels:
1. Learn Basic Phrases:
Try to learn a few basic phrases in the local language.
Even something as simple as “hello” or “thank you” will go a long way in showing your respect for the local culture.
2. Be Patient:
Be patient, and don’t get frustrated if someone doesn’t understand you immediately.
The natives are not used to hearing English spoken with a foreign accent.
3. Listen Carefully:
Listen carefully and pay attention to non-verbal cues such as body language and tone of voice.
That will help you understand what someone is trying to say.
4. Ask For Help:
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Many English speakers in South Africa will be happy to assist you.
So, to answer the question we started with. Do people speak English in South Africa?
Yes, people in South Africa generally speak English.
However, a wide range of languages is spoken in the country. So you may encounter someone who does not speak English as their first language.
But as a traveler, you can get by just fine with English. Especially at famous tourist spots.
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