Learn English in South Africa
Our Rainbow Nation is unlike any place you will have seen before! Rich in history and tradition, and boldly moving forward, South Africa is home to people from all walks of life. So where are you? Find out below what you'll experience when you learn English in South Africa!
Did you know?
It might be far, far away but South Africa has a track record for innovation and firsts. A proud country, here are some interesting facts you might want to remember when you study English in South Africa with us:
- First – Cape Town's Groote Schuur Hospital was the first hospital in the world to successfully perform a heart transplant. Here in 1967, 53-year-old Lewis Washkansky received a heart from the deceased 25-year-old Denise Darvall.
- Youngest – Afrikaans, a language that developed predominately from Dutch, is officially the world's youngest language. It is the country's second-most spoken tongue after Zulu with over 10 million native and non-native speakers.
- Biggest – South Africa's world-renowned Kruger National Park is home to Africa's greatest variety of wildlife, including the big 5: the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and White/Black rhinoceros.
- Deepest – With a long tradition in mining, South Africa is home to the deepest mine in the world. The Mponeng gold mine in the country's northeast is over 4 kilometers underground, having only recently overtaken the Western Deep Levels gold mine at 3.9 kilometers.
- First – South Africa is the continent's first and only nation that has legalized same-sex marriage. The country's post-apartheid constitution was also the first in the world to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Wanting more reasons to learn English in South Africa? Keen to discover more about the Rainbow Nation? Check out Cape Town, home of our language school!
A true rainbow
Mountains, beaches, rivers, lakes, deserts – South Africa! Branded the Rainbow Nation by Reverend Desmond Tutu, our country is truly full of diversity, and its not just cultural. Here are some travel highlights you might consider when you learn English in South Africa:
- Cape Town – You'll study English in South Africa's premiere tourist destination, Cape Town, a city whose natural beauty has lured the world to her shores. The city has influences from as far and wide as Asia, Europe and other pockets of the African continent. From our language school, discover Table Mountain, the city's lush parks, and the must-do Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of his 27 years behind bars.
- Garden Route – One of South Africa's most important tourist experiences is the Garden Route. Stretching from Mossel Bay to St Francis, it is easily accessible when you study English in South Africa, given its proximity to Cape Town. Sights include ancient forests, beautiful bays and beaches, and elegant villages home to artists, retirees, expats, and more. Visit the Cango Caves near Ostrich capital Oudtshoorn, and don't skip the picturesque town of Knysna.
- Eastern Cape – Following the Garden Route, you'll delve deep into the Eastern Cape. Home to major cities like East London and Port Elizabeth, the eastern coastline of South Africa offers visitors serene beaches and surrounding sights, quieter than those closer to popular Cape Town. Check out the pristine Wild Coast and this Cape's national parks, Addo (for elephants) and Tsitsikamma (for whales, if you're lucky).
- Gauteng – While many people will tell you to skip our biggest city, Johannesburg, we say don't! A sprawling metropolis, Joburg and the Gauteng region of which it is the capital, is full of surprises. Hard to manage on foot or public transport, tour operators are your best bet to discover places like the incomparable Soweto neighborhood, the Apartheid Museum, or the Cradle of Humanity World Heritage Site. Also consider a visit to nearby Pretoria.
- Kruger – You can't study English in South Africa without considering a safari in the Kruger National Park or one of our many other safari-ready national parks. Kruger, the best known and most diverse, is over 100 years old. It was named after former president Paul Kruger. The park is home to the so-called Big 5 animals as well as the quintessential landscapes they call home.
Wanting more reasons to learn English in South Africa? Find out more about our school today!
Get to know us
South Africa is a country of 11 official languages, 5 main ethnic groups, as well as several dozen tribal groups. While in no way exhaustive, here is a list of things you should consider when you learn English in South Africa:
- Identity – Ethnic identity is a concept held close to the hearts of many South Africans. While the country continues a long process of post-apartheid healing, moving slowly but surely toward national unity, people are also proud of what makes them unique. For black or colored South African, for example, this might include their tribal heritage and linguistic group, while for white South Africans it could be whether or not they identify as Afrikaner or English. Note that contrary to its use in other places, in South Africa the term “African” is used to refer to every citizen of the country, not just black South Africans.
- Religion – South Africans are a conservative people with strong adherence to their religious beliefs. According to national statistics, most people, especially across the large white and colored populations are Christians (85 percent), while smaller religious groups include Muslims (1.5 percent), Hindus (1.2 percent) and adherents of traditional African religions (0.3 percent).
- Food – South Africa is a carnivorous country! And while many meals contain a healthy serve of vegetables, vegetarians might struggle with some local culinary experiences like the very South African "braai" (barbecue). That said, all of the country's major cities offer a range of international cuisine and of a very high standard. Try sushi in Cape Town and you'll know what we mean!
Speak like a local
- The basics – Wanting to prepare yourself to study English in South Africa? Well, let's get straight into the language learning with some basics on South African English. Here are some phrases and words you might like to remember:
- "Howzit?" meaning "How are you?" or "How is it going?";
- "Lekker", a popular term meaning "cool" or "nice";
- "Ja" meaning "yes";
- Here you say "soccer" or "rugby", not "football";
- And just so you know, a "robot" is a traffic light.
- Just now? – Here's a tough one for you! South Africans have a unique use for the word "now." So when you hear the term “just now” what your South African friend is actually saying is, "in a while" or "later". If you want something done immediately, try being more specific with "this very minute." For something a little sooner (perhaps anywhere up to half an hour), you would say "now now." Confused? You'll figure it out!
- Mixing it up – With such cultural and linguistic diversity, South Africans use many words from the country's 11 official languages. Given the historic dominance of Dutch settlers over the rest of the population (at times, the British were in charge), Afrikaans especially has had an influence, giving South African English terms like "braai" (barbecue), "bru" or "boet" from "broer" (brother), "deurmekaar" (confused), "mal" (mad), "pasop" (watch out), "rooinek" (referring to a English-speaking South African), "skinner" (gossip), "slap chips" (chips, french fries), and more.
- Apartheid – The experience of Apartheid had a huge impact on South African culture. So much so, you can even sense it in local vocabulary. You may often hear words like "born free" (an adjective referring to people born after the end of Apartheid), "homelands" or "bantustans" (referring to former areas or regions created to isolate black South Africans), "shebeens" (originally a Gaelic word that refers to former clandestine taverns frequented by black South Africans), or "townships" (referring to low-income ghetto-like areas where black South Africans were once confined).
For more tips on how best to learn English in South Africa click here!