Afrikaans Second Language

  • Last Post 11 September 2016
yusuf posted this 17 August 2016

For various reasons, we never really closed our doors to SA, and although we are happily living in New Zealand, we're always 50/50 about where our future will be.

It is for that reason that we often wonder about our kids not keeping up with Afrikaans as a second language, and the way it would affect their schooling if they ever had to go back to school in SA.


Does anyone know of self study guides that we could use to teach our kids Afrikaans basics at home? Is it something we should even bother about or can a child easily catch up if they would ever need to?

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Hope2Go2 posted this 30 August 2016

Hi Yusuf, how old are your kids?  There seems to be some Afrikaans online courses, such as as   These look exceedingly boring though!  

I think depending on the age of your kids, try to find appropriate Afrikaans apps, stories or TV shows for them to play, listen to and watch.  My kids have picked up an incredible amount of English from such sources.

Afrikaans apps:  Here are some apps for preschoolers that look like lots of fun:  (The article is in Afrikaans however, let me know if I can help translate or just list the names of the actual apps for you.)  If you type 'Afrikaans' into the Google play store, you'll find lots more.

Afrikaans stories: Have a look at the Afrikaans stories and content available on  It includes lots of programs that was on RSG (Radio Sonder Grense, i.e. the SABC Afrikaans radio channel).  My preschoolers love Poen and Toekie at: Poen en Toekie channel.  There are also other kiddie channels such as Kindertyd and Nali Bali (Afrikaans).  There are also lots and lots of content for older children and, of course, adults.

Afrikaans TV and video programs:  Youtube is packed with gems like Heidi in Afrikaans (something like 50 wonderful episodes), Heidi Episode 1 Afrikaans should get you started. If you have teenagers, this yummy (!) and corny music video, for example, might catch their interest: Brendan Peyper Stop Wag Bly nog 'n bietjie.  Here is a playlist of popular Afrikaans music videos: Afrikaanse musiek videos (Best Afrikaans Videos), most of which do not seem too cringe-inducing.  (I feel a strong urge to apologise for some Afrikaans songs / videos which are just so incredibly 'common' and crass.. but I'm rather going to just let it go..)

If you can befriend any Afrikaans people, I'm sure they'll be eager to speak Afrikaans to your kids and to help improve their Afrikaans.  Hey, if we end up in NZ close to you, we'll be sure to invite you over!

As for whether you should bother, I'm not sure what to say.  undecided  Truth to be told, it might make more sense to try and get them into African languages (other than Afrikaans, I mean) should you ever return to SA?  (However, good luck on finding a reasonable amount of appropriate content in any of those languages on the internet.)  

I'm not sure, but I would have guessed Afrikaans is no longer important as far as schooling in SA is concerned.

If our plans work out, I'm probably not going to work on maintaining my kids' Afrikaans skills (I'm thinking of their written command of the language here).  I wish for them to get a clean start in life, without the messed-up legacy that are being thrust upon them in SA.  Although I find it sad to think that the mother tongue that I love will probably not be the language of their hearts when they're adults.

I'm most interested to know what would make you consider returning to this forsaken part of Africa?  Friends and family?  Climate?

Edit:  I see my youtube links somehow got lost!  Sorry, but when I edit the message, it seems as if edits to the links do not get saved.  Luckily Google and Youtube Search is your friend. wink

yusuf posted this 30 August 2016

Thanks so much for going through that so well. I really appreciate it. I think you're right about the African language thing. Three kids, 10, 6 and 2. I am mostly worried about the 10 year old. I think I will pass on the information you provided to my wife, and she can help him along as a part time interest. Thanks very much for that.

Why would we consider ever going back to SA, well there are a few things, but these will not apply to the overwhelming majority of South Africans in NZ. NZ is a great country, and we LOVE our new country. I want to make that clear at the start, as this is not an NZ-bashing post or a rant.

The biggest trouble is that our lives are very empty, because we don't know any like minded people, and we have no family in NZ. My parents wish to move over, but I know for a fact that they will not adjust in NZ. Their lives are predictable, easy and very comfortable in SA, and I can't reasonably see it being the same in NZ. My dad, due to illness, feels very cold, in Durban that is! Imagine what will become of him in NZ! My kids are yearning for family, particularly their grandparents, and it is sometimes difficult to explain to them that this is the better life.

Although religious belief is largely seen as a fairytale, in today's time, we're still very strong believers, and aren't keen to lose our faith. Being strict Muslims has been difficult throughout the journey, particularly when we lived in Wellington. Surprisingly, not a lot of Muslims move to NZ from SA, and those that do have taken a more relaxed approach to religion when they get to NZ. Whilst the majority of you reading this would see that as an advantage, it is a massive disadvantage for us. In SA it was super easy, with access to good Islamic education, mosques, halaal food etc etc just about everywhere, and the added benefit of being accepted everywhere, That isn't the same in NZ. The stares never end, and it is frustrating to go through it daily. I had an electronic device (Car OBD Scanner) in my hand, walking in Auckland city a few weeks ago. I could not believe how uncomfortable it made the people around me. The increased global terrorism scare has made it even more difficult, but SA is still super easy and pleasant in that respect. During our recent visit to SA, we were so relieved to not be constantly stared at, that we deemed that to be the best part of a 6 week trip. 

So, there are heaps of Muslims in NZ, right? off course there are. 1% or so, the same as SA in terms of percentage of population. However, in NZ, that yields a tiny number. Still too, we know a lot of Muslims since moving to Auckland, which was the reason for moving. Trouble is, we don't fit in with the vast majority. They come from a totally different background, with an entirely different way of life. Then there's the language. Most of them aren't English speakers, as a first language. Gatherings are usually awkward, where everything needs to be translated, and we lose the gist of discussions. We therefore tend to avoid all that and just stay home. This hasn't been great, but we're happily living our lives. it just seems empty because of that.

Our kids are now getting the Islamic education they need, and the social contact, as kids their age usually speak in English. The future therefore looks bright for them, and that has pretty much kept us here. Then there's more. In order to get this sort of religion aspect, and some level of an English speaking community, we have settled in Mt Roskill, which has so much of house burglary, car theft, and petty crime that it reminds me of SA. I often wonder, what's the point if we're still living in course, these criminals don't usually rape and kill, but it leaves one very uncomfortable and anxious. Furthermore, it will be impossible to ever buy a house in Mt Roskill, so we often wonder what will happen after retirement, when we won't have the income stream to pay the massive rentals. We're hoping to buy a cheap house out in the country for retirement, and that sounds like a safe plan, but will we be happy? Seems unlikely, which is why we're leaving the SA door half open. 

Added more: I run a part time business, just like I did in SA. It's a few days over 2 years old, but I can no longer see it as being a full time thing, whereas at the start I did. Coming from a family that is business focused, and being an entrepreneur myself, I am a little disappointed, as I managed to easily establish businesses in SA, but labour and rentals costs in NZ make it very difficult. i recently wondered whether I'd be happy as an office worker for the remainder of my working life, and it seemed unlikely. Admittedly, that also sparked SA thoughts.

Another big blow was when I realised that my wife, who is a stay home mum, is struggling with the idea of having to cook, clean and take care of other household stuff, without help. Let's face it, Saffers have that aspect easy, and the adjustment has been tough, particularly with 3 boys who never stop messing. Our house is never neat for more than 5 minutes at a time. I am off course busy with that business, and with full time work, so usually spend very little time on household chores. 

It sounds ridiculous to all of you, I know, and I don't expect anyone to understand. I just tried to answer the question I was asked. There is a good chance that much of the things that make us uncomfortable will improve over the years, so I think the likelihood of ever going back to SA is under 20%

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Hope2Go2 posted this 31 August 2016

I find it interesting, Yusuf, strange even, that we come from such incredibly different backgrounds you and I, yet nothing you said sounded ridiculous at all.  

Reading through your post actually made me tear up a little, if you don't mind my saying so - because I can easily imagine hubby and myself feeling like strangers in a country where we do not belong for the rest of our lives, should our NZ plans work out.  Both of us grew up in incredibly close-knit Afrikaans, Christian communities.  We definitely fear that all will feel empty for us too on various levels.  

As for the weather, I love hot, sweltering days and tend to go into a kind of depressed hibernation when it is cold.  I feel your dad there!

Also, tell your wife I empathise with her so much!  We recently moved to another town and, in order to 'practise' for NZ, we moved into a small rented apartment.  I went into full housewife mode, which means doing all cleaning, cooking, ironing (shudder), etc. myself.  You know, I actually have some cool 'superpowers' with degrees, achievements and old reference letters to prove it, but I absolutely suck at most of the aforementioned tasks.  It's a bit like Cinderella in reverse, where you end up sweeping floors all day at the end of the story.  (I'll forgive everyone who thinks I'm a horribly spoilt person for having written this paragraph.  I won't argue.)

On the bright side, I suppose if you want to retire in SA someday, your NZ dollars will probably be worth a fortune by then!

Sadly, I can't imagine staying in SA and watching our kids struggle their way through school and university here.  Have you been following the SA news during the past 2 or 3 months?  It feels as if there hasn't been a morning without at least one horribly puke-worthy headline on news24 in weeks - corruption, blatant thievery by our so-called leaders, racism, mind blowing idiocy, etc.  I thought it would be easier to read the site now that the comments have been removed, but I still feel as if I'm looking at a gruesome train wreck whenever I go there.

Anyway, my wish for you is that you'll find an easier groove in NZ in the years ahead, or failing that, a place in SA where you can belong again someday.  I much appreciate the raw honesty and authenticity with which you answered my question.  

Note on my previous post:  Knowing that you are strict Muslims, I think you should rather give all Afrikaans music videos a complete miss!  Ooh, that will not be up your alley at all.  But do try Heidi, OK?  It was actually a Japanese animé series produced in 1974, but the Afrikaans translation is very good and the story incredibly endearing and sweet.  Hubby and I have been watching (again) it with our kids (4 and 6) during the past few weeks, which probably adds to my enthusiasm.

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yusuf posted this 31 August 2016

Yeah, you're right, lol. We usually skip music videos! About Heidi, I remember watching it as a kid. It used to be the height of desperation as a child. The programme my sister and I would watch when there was nothing else on tv due to not understanding. I remember watching some dubbed in English too. Gosh, the memories!!

The Easy Afrikaans site looked really good, so Thanks for that.

Thanks for your well wishes too. I am hopeful that we will find our groove eventually.

I think your family will do really well, because attitude is the most important aspect. Yes, I know all of what is going on in SA, and I always remind myself why we have left. Those 2 aspects, combined with a positive attitude (and some beautiful NZ scenery), are the main reasons we still live in NZ.

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Shaun posted this 31 August 2016

Great read Yusuf, thanks for that honesty and openness. To be quite honest, I can relate a lot to your story and probably could have written most of it myself thats how relevant it is.We are the first of our family (mine and my wife) who are here so we dont have parents or brothers or sisters or anything like that. We both work full time now too. It really makes it hard when the kids are sick or school holidays come around not having family here, my wife really misses her mom a lot, as they are really close and that makes things really difficult.

From the religious side of things, my wife's religion is very important to her and that is definitely another thing that adds stress to our lives and makes us miss SA. We actually started out going to a South African church here (my wife is afrikaans) and we didnt really fit in. We now go to a kiwi church and love it way more.

A South African friend of mine who now lives in Australia gave me some advice when we decided to move to NZ, you need to learn to make decisions with your head and not with your heart at times. This has been easier to understand once we had settled in here and the "honey moon" period ended.

We are now heading towards our two year mark here in NZ and are finding new challenges all the time, it might get easier but its really an up and down emotional roller coaster.

Yup, immigration is not for sissies! wink



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yusuf posted this 01 September 2016

Thanks Shaun.

Every person is going through their own struggles, but what's important is that we're making it in a foreign land.

I sincerely appreciate the support of you all.

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Imran posted this 10 September 2016

Thanks for the post Yusuf. I have been having some reservations about going over to NZ as a South African muslim. Been living in Durban for 16yrs now and halaal food is easily available and South Africans are tolerant of all religions. I had a problem getting halaal meat when i did a short stint in Whanganui in 2011. I got a job offer in Tauranga , my other concern is that I don't want my children to face discrimination or prejudice at school because of being muslim.


yusuf posted this 11 September 2016

Imran, in all honesty, South Africa is really good for some things, and I would not expect the same environment just about anywhere else, including 'Arab' countries. So, in my opinion, when thinking about how migrations affects you as a Muslim, don't just have reservations about NZ, but have reservations about anywhere outside SA.

In NZ, anywhere outside Auckland would be a struggle for genuinely halaal outlets, although some are popping up all over the country. However, due to tourism, many outlets simply put up a halaal sign but have no audits or certification (or understanding of the rules for that matter)

Tauranga would be a struggle too. I doubt your kids will face discrimination, but they will not get the environment or Islamic education they have in Durban, or even what they could get in Auckland, so you need to know that up front. You will have to do quite a lot of the teaching at home, which is what we did for 2 years in Wellington.

Feel free to PM me if you need any further information. I expect to be going to Tauranga in 2 weeks time, for the first time ever