When I started my first year at Stellenbosch in 2007, this is how the language issue was handled:
- The “main” modules (Biology, Physics etc) which basically all first year students in the Science faculty took were separated into classes divided by language. The amount of students made this possible, so I think we ended up with 3 English classes and 2 Afrikaans or something. The practicals were mixed.
- For smaller subjects such as pure Maths, we were in a single class where the lecturer taught in English. Coincidentally, both lecturers for Maths were English.
- For even smaller subjects, like Computer Science, officially the policy was that it should be taught in English. So of course, we were taught in Afrikaans. I spent my first year manually translating Afrikaans Computer Science notes to English. I somehow still managed to pass first year Computer Science.
- All tutorial sessions had English and Afrikaans demis available, but I think that was more luck of the draw than anything else. Students could asks questions in any language, and the lecturer would reply either in English or the language the student had asked the question in. Hahaha.
- Meetings in res would be in Afrikaans, although officially they were supposed to be in English. So every Monday night at 10pm, I would have to leave my room to waste half an hour listening to girls I didn’t care about discussing the plans for the next social with a guys’ res, all in Afrikaans. There was a R20 fine if you didn’t attend a meeting, which is the only reason I went (this was way before my current assertive phase).
So how is this different now? By my final year, the language issue didn’t even seem to be a thing anymore, which is why I was so surprised to see all this drama this year. From second year, all my modules were in English, regardless of whether the class was majority Afrikaans and even if the lecturer was Afrikaans. The subject where this change was most obvious was Computer Science.
What would annoy me in res, was if someone asked a question in English at a house meeting, and the HK would reply in Afrikaans. Personally, I didn’t have a problem with someone talking to me in Afrikaans, because I would answer them in English and we could talk like that for hours and be fine. It was just the whole underlying “feel” to it, the subconscious exclusion of students who couldn’t talk Afrikaans. That’s why I pretended I couldn’t speak the language and only knew enough to understand it being spoken to me, because honestly, I did not have the energy.
Someday I’m going to write a really long post detailing the nonsense that went on in res. Maybe when I’m older and wiser.