Masithethe: Speech and language development and difficulties in isiXhosa...
Michelle Pascoe, Mantoa Smouse
Michelle Pascoe is a speech and language therapist and senior lecturer in the Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Cape Town (UCT). Mantoa Smouse is a lecturer in the School of Languages and Literatures, UCT.
Corresponding author: M Pascoe (firstname.lastname@example.org)
IsiXhosa is the second most spoken language in South Africa and one of its official languages. Spoken mainly in the Eastern and Western Cape regions it is fitting that much of the research focusing on children’s isiXhosa speech and language acquisition has been carried out at the University of Cape Town. We describe what is known about children’s acquisition of isiXhosa, and highlight studies which inform our knowledge of the typical development of the language in relation to the acquisition of consonants including clicks and the isiXhosa noun class system. Little is known about the specific nature of speech and language difficulties in isiXhosa, and the development of isiXhosa resources for speech and language assessment and therapy is in its infancy. Suggestions are made for advancing knowledge and practice which is needed to provide a relevant and quality service to isiXhosa speakers.
S Afr Med J 2012;102(6):469-471.
Being able to communicate is a human right and essential to most facets of life. The inability to understand and formulate language and/or produce intelligible speech is devastating for children for whom academic success and development of literacy are linked to intact speech and language skills. Children experiencing difficulties with communication are prone to the psychosocial effects of low self-esteem and vulnerability to bullying. The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) has been used to detail the activity limitations and/or participation restrictions that extend across the lifespan for children who have early childhood communication difficulties that are either not addressed or addressed only in the school years. These include reading and writing,