In a democratic South Africa, English
has increasingly become the preferred
medium of instruction despite the majority
of South African learners being mother
tongue speakers of other languages.
Many learners in urban areas are
enrolled to take English Home Language
and especially novice teachers expect
them to have mother tongue proficiency.
However, the reality is that learners
come from diverse backgrounds and
a single class comprises learners with
varying levels of English proficiency.
This study seeks to establish who is the
actual target audience seated in the socalled
English Home Language class.
Quantitative data were collected through
a questionnaire completed by 642 Grade
8 and 9 respondents at three suburban
schools in Gauteng. Cross tabulations
were used to compare different variables.
Key findings indicate that respondents – although multilingual – do not consider
themselves adequately proficient in
English. Secondly, the role of the caregiver
as initial source of learning English has
been underestimated. Although smallscale,
the study highlights the mismatch
between classroom reality and curriculum
requirements. Results suggest that the
national education authorities need to
adapt policy documents so that what is
currently expected of learners might be
more easily accomplished in the English
class. The questionnaire may serve
as a useful resource to determine the
linguistic profile of a particular target