Sunday, January 15, 2012


For this 'read aloud' exercise, there is no MP3 to help guide you. So please refer to the tools provided at the side panel to find out how to pronounce the words you have difficulty with. I also would like you to select ten of the hardest words you know and look for their meanings through the link. Please email me your list. And don't forget to sign in below in the comment section so I know you have been through this page. 

"Mr Master of Ceremonies,
Your Excellencies,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
My Fellow South Africans:

Today we are entering a new era for our country and its people. Today we celebrate not the victory of a party, but a victory for all the people of South Africa.

Our country has arrived at a decision. Among all the parties that contested the elections, the overwhelming majority of South Africans have mandated the African National Congress to lead our country into the future. The South Africa we have struggled for, in which all our people, be they African, Coloured, Indian or White, regard themselves as citizens of one nation is at hand.

Perhaps it was history that ordained that it be here, at the Cape of Good Hope that we should lay the foundation stone of our new nation. For it was here at this Cape, over three countries ago, that there began the fateful convergence of the peoples of Africa, Europe and Asia on these shores.

It was to this peninsula that the patriots, among them many princes and scholars, of Indonesia were dragged in chains. It was on the sandy plains of this peninsula that first battles of the epic wars of resistance were fought.

When we look out across Table Bay, the horizon is dominated by Robben Island, whose infamy as a dungeon built to stifle the spirit of freedom is as old as colonialism in South Africa. For three centuries that island was seen as a place to which outcasts can be banished. The names of those who were incarcerated on Robben Island is a roll call of resistance fighters and democrats spanning over three centuries. If indeed this is a Cape of Good Hope, that hope owes much to the spirit of that legion of fighters and others of their calibre.

We have fought for a democratic constitution since the 1880s. Ours has been a quest for a constitution freely adopted by the people of South Africa, reflecting their wishes and their aspirations. The struggle for democracy has never been a matter pursued by one race, class, religious community or gender among South Africans. In honouring those who fought to see this day arrive, we honour the best sons and daughters of all our people. We can count amongst them Africans, Coloureds, Whites, Indians, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jews - all of them united by a common vision of a better life for the people of this country.

It was that vision that inspired us in 1923 when we adopted the first ever Bill of Rights in this country. That same vision spurred us to put forward the African Claims in 1946. It is also the founding principle of the Freedom Charter we adopted as policy in 1955, which in its very first lines, places before South Africa an inclusive basis for citizenship.

In the 1980s the African National Congress was still setting the pace, being the first major political formation in South Africa to commit itself firmly to a Bill of Rights, which we published in November 1990. These milestones give concrete expression to what South Africa can become. They speak of a constitutional, democratic, political order in which, regardless of colour, gender, religion, political opinion or sexual orientation, the law will provide for the equal protection of all citizens.

They project a democracy in which the government, whomever that government may be, will be bound by a higher set of rules, embodied in a constitution, and will not be able govern the country as it pleases.

Democracy is based on the majority principle. This is especially true in a country such as ours where the vast majority have been systematically denied their rights. At the same time, democracy also requires that the rights of political and other minorities be safeguarded.

In the political order we have established there will regular, open and free elections, at all levels of government - central, provincial and municipal. There shall also be a social order which respects completely the culture, language and religious rights of all sections of our society and the fundamental rights of the individual.

The task at hand on will not be easy. But you have mandated us to change South Africa from a country in which the majority lived with little hope, to one in which they can live and work with dignity, with a sense of self-esteem and confidence in the future. The cornerstone of building a better life of opportunity, freedom and prosperity is the Reconstruction and Development Programme.

This needs unity of purpose. It needs in action. It requires us all to work together to bring an end to division, an end to suspicion and build a nation united in our diversity.

The people of South Africa have spoken in these elections. They want change! And change is what they will get. Our plan is to create jobs, promote peace and reconciliation, and to guarantee freedom for all South Africans. We will tackle the widespread poverty so pervasive among the majority of our people. By encouraging investors and the democratic state to support job creating projects in which manufacturing will play a central role we will try to change our country from a net exporter of raw material to one that exports finished products through beneficiation.

The government will devise policies that encourage and reward productive enterprise among the disadvantaged communities - African, Coloured and Indian. By easing credit conditions we can assist them to make inroads into the productive and manufacturing spheres and breakout of the small-scale distribution to which they are presently confined.

To raise our country and its people from the morass of racism and apartheid will require determination and effort. As a government, the ANC will create a legal framework that will assist, rather than impede, the awesome task of reconstruction and development of our battered society.

While we are and shall remain fully committed to the spirit of a government of national unity, we are determined to initiate and bring about the change that our mandate from the people demands.

We place our vision of a new constitutional order for South Africa on the table not as conquerors, prescribing to the conquered. We speak as fellow citizens to heal the wounds of the past with the intent of constructing a new order based on justice for all.

This is the challenge that faces all South Africans today, and it is one to which I am certain we will all rise."

The African National Congress

Thursday, January 5, 2012


British Council's Global Workers by vernonae

One of the biggest challenges facing employers and educators today is the rapid advance of globalisation. The marketplace is no longer national or regional, but extends to all corners of the world, and this requires a globalready workforce. Universities have a large part to play in preparing students for the twentyfirst
century labour market by promoting international educational experiences.

The most obvious way universities can help develop a global workforce is by encouraging students to study
abroad as part of their course. Students who have experienced another culture firsthand are more likely to be globalready when they graduate. There are, of course, well-established international undergraduate student exchange schemes, such as Erasmus, which operates within Europe, and the exchange partnerships that exist between universities around the world. The Fulbright program in the US enables graduate students to study and conduct research abroad. We need to expand and add to such schemes, to enable many more students to study abroad.

Global workforce development doesn’t always have to involve travel abroad, however. If students learn another language, and study other cultures, they will be more global-ready when they graduate. It is important to point out that students also need to have a deep understanding of their own culture before they can begin to observe, analyse and evaluate other cultures. In multicultural societies, people can study each other’s cultures to develop intercultural competencies such as critical and reflective thinking, and intellectual flexibility. This can be done both through the curriculum, and through activities on campus outside of the classroom such as art exhibitions and lectures from international experts.

Many universities are already embracing this challenge and providing opportunities for students to become global citizens. Students themselves, however, may not realise that when they graduate they will be competing in a global labour market, and universities need to raise awareness of these issues amongst undergraduates.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


British Council's "English The Global Language" by vernonae

For many years now we have been referring to English as a global language .... as the language of communication and technology. Everybody seems to be learning English and it isn’t uncommon to see English being used as a means of communication between .... let’s see ... a German scientist .... and an Italian politician. These days ... if you don’t know English, you are in danger of being excluded from what’s going on ... in education, at work ... and especially in the world of technological advances.

Very soon English will be the second language of all the people in the world. This is happening while I am speaking to you. We can’t be certain of how long the process will take but there is no doubt that it will happen ... and my bet is that it will happen sooner rather than later.

First of all English will be an obligatory subject on every school curriculum throughout the world. By the year 2010 around two billion people ... that’s about a third of the World’s population ..... will speak English as their second language. This isn’t my prediction by the way. This is what the experts say.
We can see evidence of these changes all the time. Let’s take the Eurovision Song Contest as an example. Whatever we might think of the contest itself .... one thing that has changed recently is that now countries can opt to sing in English. In the last festival fourteen of the twenty five competing countries asked for the rules to be changed to allow them to sing in English. They argued that singing in their own language would put them at a disadvantage. I suspect that in a few years time all twenty-five countries will be singing in English.

And what exactly does all of this mean for native speakers of English? Well, we are already in a minority. If the calculations are correct, then in ten years time, majority speakers ... that is non native English speakers ... will outnumber native English speakers by four to one. The two most important Englishes won’t be British English and American English. They’ll be Native English and Majority English. So native English speakers will be handicapped. We will be the only people in the world who speak just one language. Because ... let’s face it ... there won’t be much of a reason for native English speakers to learn a second language. We ... and not the Majority English speakers ... will be the disadvantaged.

As more and more people speak English it makes sense that they will become more competent. They will start to control more of the English resources being produced and to have a say in what should or shouldn’t be included in dictionaries and language books. This might seem far fetched but it is already starting to happen. Let’s use Sweden as an example. Their music exports .... predominantly English ... account for more than thirty per cent of its export income. This exported English is bound to have an effect on English in general. And this is just one small example.

So ... all of you native English speakers out there ... get ready to throw away your phrase books ... whether you’re planning to visit Eastern Europe or the Himalayas ... one thing you won’t have to worry about is the language!