This article reports on a case study undertaken
amongst Grade 11 and 12 learners of Afrikaans as additional language at a high school in the Limpopo Province. The point of departure of the article is the importance, on the one hand, of a good vocabulary and, on the other hand, the reality that the language facilitator is confronted with a very deficient active vocabulary. The importance of the lexicon in learning and teaching a second language is highlighted. The state of the vocabulary knowledge of the research group is discussed. The conclusion of the researchers is that learners demonstrate an extremely deficient vocabulary not only in the diagnostic test but in general. In
an attempt to account for the attitudes, perceptions and degree of motivation of the
learners, use was made of questionnaires and interviews. The concept “social distance” was a valuable instrument to place the apathetic and even hostile attitude of the learners within context. The conclusion is that due to the enormous social distance between learners and speakers of the target language (Afrikaans) no meaningful learning can take place.