Your language stay in South Africa: 10 Keys to help you with complete immersion

Your language stay in South Africa: 10 Keys to help you with complete immersion

English is the third most spoken language in the world behind Mandarin and Spanish. Above all, it is an influential language used in political, diplomatic and business circles. The destinations to learn or to perfect the language of Shakespeare are always more numerous. Great Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia are the most successful candidates for temporary expatriation. Yet others are experiencing a new boom and become fashionable stays for the most anti-conformist. This is the case of the island of Malta, New Zealand but also South Africa.
The country at the foot of the African continent offers a complete change of scenery compared to Western culture. Language specialist Holingo offers an immersion in three schools based in the city of Cape Town, in the south-west of the country. In order to apprehend and make the most of his trip to South Africa, it is necessary to have the historical, social or cultural keys of Nelson Mandela's lands.




Difficult for a traveler to soak up a country, even for a few months, without knowing his past. South Africa is one of the regions of the world that has seen the emergence of emblematic movements. It is linked to a turbulent and complex history due to colonization, segregation and the diversity of its population. In the first place, the oldest known inhabitants of the South African territory are the Khoikhois and Bochimans. The first were renamed hottentots by Dutch settlers who settled in the country in the mid-seventeenth century. The Dutch have also founded the city of Cape Town, considered to be the first South African city. The Hottentot people are known for the history of Saartjie Baartman, called the Hottentot Venus, infamous for the generous forms of its hind leg. This physical peculiarity forced him to become a beast of fair exhibited in a colonial Europe which discovered the otherness of the world with contempt and mockery. After the establishment of the Dutch, it is the turn of the British to take possession of South Africa in 1806. The country is also one of the oldest to be part of the Commonwealth - intergovernmental organization of 53 states including most are former British colonies - with the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The twentieth century is marked by violent clashes between
black and black from South Africa. Between those who hold power and those who dream of emancipation. These tensions will begin the independence of the country which occurs on May 31, 1961. It is at this date that the country passes from a monarchy to a republic which breaks its ties with Great Britain. But from 1948 to 1991, South Africa saw one of the darkest periods in its history, apartheid. For more than forty years, black, Indian and Métis populations gradually lost their social rights, such as the prohibition of mixed marriages, between ethnic groups, as of July 1, 1949. Racial segregation reigns in the country that sees emerge the emblematic Nelson Mandela, member of the African National Congress (ANC), fighting against discrimination and the sidelining of rejected populations. Because of acts of sabotage against the power in place, the lawyer is placed in detention. Nelson Mandela spent nearly 27 years behind bars before being released in February 1990. The end of apartheid segregationist comes a year after his release. In 1994, Nelson Mandela, just awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, became the first black president of the country. It embraces a decisive role in a nation that badly needs national reconciliation between black and white populations. The one who died at the age of 95 also worked to fight against two major social scourges: poverty and the HIV virus. The political and associative circles are still trying to deal with these issues. Witness the more than two million houses built for the poorly housed since the election of Nelson Mandela. South Africa today faces a major paradox, between poverty and wealth, for the country ranked second among the richest African countries behind Nigeria.




South Africa is the sixth most populous African country with nearly 57 million inhabitants. The people who occupy it are obviously linked to its history since the Dutch and British colonization. Black people (76%) are the largest South African people, followed by those commonly known as Afrikaners (13%). The latter represent the white community that emerged from the waves of Dutch and British colonization. The term Afrikaners comes from the derivative of the Germanic language from Dutch, Afrikaans, spoken in South Africa but also in Namibia. In addition, the Métis and Asian populations - mainly Indian - supplement the plurality of the nation. South Africa is sometimes called the "rainbow nation" to describe a multi-ethnic territory. The South African country also has the distinction of being a very young country. In fact, nearly 31% of the inhabitants who occupy it are under the age of fifteen. Urbanization is also a major societal fact in the border country of Botswana since 61% of South Africans live in cities.


Once settled in Cape Town, the language candidate will be pleasantly surprised to discover the multitude of languages ​​spoken in South Africa. This aspect can also disturb more than one but it should be known that South Africans generally master several dialects. Nearly eleven languages ​​are now recognized in the country. None have been promulgated as official languages. Zulu is still the most spoken dialect, especially in the regions of KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng. Zulu is the mother tongue for nearly 9 million people. The other languages ​​are Afrikaans mentioned above, Xhosa, Setswana, Ndbele, Sotho North, South Sotho, Swati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga and ... English.
The Shakespeare language is practiced by less than 10% of the population. At first glance, it seems like little to learn or perfect your English on the benches of a South African school. In contrast, over ten years, the practice of English increased by almost 33% between 2001 and 2011. Although it is a mother tongue for only 5% of South Africans, English has experienced a spectacular leap which describes the craze of a new generation focused on higher education and internationally. English is, for example, the most widely used language in diplomatic and business circles. The student enrolled in language study in South Africa will have no trouble practicing English since 85% of the population speak it fluently or have sufficient notions.


Although Africa's stronghold behind Nigeria, the South African economy is plagued by large inequalities in living standards among the population. The results are alarming: more than half (55%) of the South African population lived below the poverty line between 2006 and 2015. However, South Africa is part of what is commonly called the B.R.I.C.S. In other words, the acronym stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. This group of five countries is, in a way, the club of fast-growing emerging nations in the last twenty years. The South African country became a full member of this young organization on April 14, 2011. South Africa has significant economic assets to assert its position as an African country that matters.
A language stay abroad can create a vocation to expatriate longer or even permanently in the country. The crush is not impossible either in South Africa. In view of this possibility, it is important to know the economic sectors that carry the "rainbow nation". The first resources of the country are ores and metals. In the 1970s, South Africa was the largest gold producer in the world with nearly three quarters (75%) of the world's wealth. For the last ten years, production has fallen by almost 40% and has considerably weakened the South African economy. Apart from the gold industry, the country extracts many other materials: chromium, platinum, titanium, iron, copper, silver, uranium and lead. South Africa exports its various resources through its ports, mainly Durban.
Since the end of apartheid, the country has turned to globalization. Tourism is also in full development. According to the results of the South African Tourism agency, the country is the first African destination for visitors from around the world. There were 7.6 million people walking the lands of Nelson Mandela between January and September 2017. The Cape Town region is prized for its beauty and safaris in the northern part of the country are attracting more and more travelers who want to marvel in front of the lions, the giraffes and the rhinoceros populating the territory.



Who does not remember the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the debacle of Team France at the Knysna Training Center (Western Cape Province)? The desire of the Blues not to get off their bus for training has not shaken the passion generated by the global event won by Spain. It was the first time an African country hosted the competition on its lands. The South African World Cup was particularly marked by the appearance of vuvuzelas, these horns causing a buzz in the sports arenas, popularized by supporters of the two major football clubs in the country: Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs. The two rival clubs in the Soweto township have two-and-a-half league titles in South Africa.
Rugby at the service of national reconciliation
But, the main sport in the "rainbow nation" remains rugby. The so-called Springboks are double world champions in 1995 and 2007. They are among the best rugby players with Australian and New Zealand teams. South Africa has recently defeated the All Blacks, who are claimed to be almost invincible on their New Zealand lands. Rugby is imported from the middle of the 19th century when the British colonizing wave falls. Despite its high popularity, the sport of the oval ball is mostly practiced and supported by the white community of South Africa. The film Invictus, produced by Clint Eastwood, shows how the enthusiasm around this sport has led, since the end of Apartheid, to bring together communities around Nelson Mandela, just named President of the Republic, and François Pienaar , captain of Spingboks at the time.
Apart from football and rugby, other sports are practiced in South African lands. This is the case of golf which holds an important place, with many international competitions that take place there every year. Cricket and surfing are also popular sports.


South African geography is known for its diversity. It is made up of mountains, plains and coasts where the great cities of Cape Town and Durban are established. A volcanic zone is also located in the northern part of the country, on the territory of Pilanesberg, which rises to 1686 meters. The country two and a half times bigger than the Hexagon holds its place between two oceans: in the west, the Atlantic Ocean and in the east, the Indian Ocean.
A future candidate for language study in South Africa must know that the climate is reversed compared to the European continent. The country is actually located in the southern hemisphere. It is therefore not surprising to see the thermometer climb 30 degrees in Johannesburg in the middle of January. While the temperatures of the months of June and July can reach minimums close to 0 degrees in the largest city in the country. In the region of Cape Town, where Holingo's partner schools are based to carry out their dream language stay, the climate is Mediterranean. The major climatic differences are especially visible between the desert and arid zones on the Atlantic coast and the tropical and humid spaces of the north of the country.
The fauna of South Africa is one of the must-see items in a language immersion program. Safaris are, by the way, very fashionable. This is the main reason why so many tourists fly to South Africa each year. A true open-air zoo, the country is populated by large mammals on the planet such as elephants, hippos or rhinos. But also by the most feared predators like lions and leopards. The iconic South African animal is the antelope. There are nearly twenty-nine species throughout the country. Near the antelope, the spingbok is a gazelle symbol of the country. So the national rugby team called the Spingboks took the name. All these animals are visible in large exotic parks like the Kruger National Park.




South Africa is divided into metropolises and localities. In the latter, slums and townships designate urban areas that are often poor and lack social diversity. The best known of the townships is that of Soweto located southwest of Johannesburg. In the 1980s, Soweto was made famous in the international press as the symbolic district of the struggle against apartheid.
Cape Town or Cape Town is considered the first South African city, founded in 1652 by Dutch settlers. Named after the nearby Cape of Good Hope, the city is now the legislative capital of the country. Appreciated by photographers, Cape Town is surmounted by two rocky peaks called Lion's Head and Devil's Peak, which look out over Table Bay. The mother tongue for 51% of Captonians is English, making it an ideal destination for language study.
The city of Durban, located in the south-east of the country has about 3,500,000 inhabitants. The port economy is the main growth area of ​​this city where the most spoken language is Zulu. Indeed, it is the largest import and export port of South Africa. One of the most exported raw materials is sugar, with Durban renowned for its industry and sugar refineries.
In Gauteng Province, Johannesburg is South Africa's economic center. The largest agglomeration of the country was built on the gold rush that began in the late nineteenth century. Not for nothing moreover, in the Zulu language, Johannesburg is renamed eGoli which means "the city of gold". Riding on this reputation as an economic center, the city houses the South African Stock Exchange, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). The metropolis also accounts for almost 40% of South Africa's total GDP.
It is not the most famous city in South Africa. Yet this is its administrative capital. Located just 70 kilometers north of its neighbor Johannesburg, Pretoria is the residence of the President of the Republic and various ministries. The particularity of this city is in its flora. It is nicknamed "the city of Jacaranda" names of trees scattered throughout the city of 750 000 inhabitants. The latter takes a sublime violet hue, between October and November, at the flowering of the buds.


It is a must in case of departure in linguistic immersion or for any other trip abroad. "What sauce will I be eating? "Can be wondering any self-respecting fighter discovering a new country. South Africa has the reputation of being a country with a high consumption of meat. South Africans are, for example, very fond of barbecue, otherwise known as braai. But also from biltong. This typical dish is made from marinated and dried meat of beef or mutton seasoned and consumed in strips as an aperitif. For the consistency dish, boerewors sausage is an inevitable food in southern Africa. Composed of 90% meat, the sausage that takes its name from the boer peasants, is often accompanied by a handful of spices. These guide South African cuisine to a tasty Indian print. This is the case of bobotie. This baked dish is made from ground beef or lamb, onions, eggs and curry. The chalaka is a vegetarian preparation marinated with vegetables and spices that also smells the route of India.




The advantage of opting for a language stay is to be able to link learning to discovery. Indeed, most schools offer a part-time program (or part-time) allowing students to attend classes in the morning and to wander to sports or cultural activities in the afternoon. South Africa is full of landscapes and monuments to see absolutely once there.
It is the largest animal reserve in South Africa. Kruger National Park covers nearly 20,000 hectares. The nature reserve, comparable in size to Wales, is an idyllic setting for safari safaris and the animals of the Big Five - lion, elephant, rhinoceros, leopard and buffalo. For the rest, more than 500 species of birds, 150 types of mammals and nearly 120 different reptiles species are to discover independently or accompanied by a guide.
This is the must for a fan of contemporary history. Located in the symbolic township of Soweto, the museum traces the history of apartheid that rocked South Africa for nearly forty years. Opened in 2001, the memorial chronicles segregationist laws, student struggles, resistance and the emergence of Nelson Mandela as reconciler of the "rainbow nation".
The Cape of Good Hope is a must for a student living in South Africa. It was the inevitable passage for the first Portuguese navigators of the fifteenth century who took the famous Indian route. The Cape of Good Hope is the ideal setting for unforgettable hikes. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the most southern point of the African continent. It is the Cap des Aiguilles, located further to the east, which is the relief where the two oceans that surround South Africa meet.
It attracts nearly a million tourists every year, according to South African Tourism. The Blyde River Canyon has a taste of Arizona and Grand Canyon. It is the third largest canyon in the world and the fourth largest tourist attraction in the country. The setting offers a complete change of scenery and a breathtaking view nearly 700 meters above the Blyde River that digs and crosses the huge canyon.
For bohemian lovers by the sea, a walk in Port Elizabeth should be included in the must-see list of a South African holiday. Located eight hours drive from Cape Town, the city is called the "friendly city". Literally a friendly town known for its colonial and Victorian-era homes and beaches as far as the eye can see. The historic center is a good way to discover an exceptional architecture in Port Elizabeth.


Whatever the date of departure, events and key dates are held throughout the year in South Africa. Some are not to be missed under any pretext for their festive or historical character.
On January 2nd of each year, the Cape Town Carnival, also known as the Klopse Kaapse, features thousands of brightly colored period costume minstrels to celebrate the "second New Year". March 21st is Human Rights Day. On March 21, 1960, segregationist regime police opened fire and killed 69 people at a special demonstration in Sharpeville. This important date is linked to the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. In the same vein, Youth Day is celebrated on June 16th. It commemorates the riots that took place in the township of Soweto in 1976. The South African heritage is honored on September 24th. It is Heritage Day that allows all South African communities to celebrate their own culture. The feast of reconciliation celebrated every December 16th also goes in this direction. The regime of Nelson Mandela hoped that this day would be an opportunity to bring together the descendants of white settlers and the Zulu heirs who have long intertwined in South African history.


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