The aim of the article is to identify the gaps between theory and practice in pre-service teacher training with special reference to the teaching of isiXhosa as a home language in the Further Education and Training (FET) phase (Grades 10–12) in some Western Cape high schools. The article is based on data that was collected from Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) students taking isiXhosa (home language) as one of their teaching method subjects as part of their pre-service training. The data were collected by means of an open-ended questionnaire, semi-structured interviews and an analysis of student teachers’ reflective journals. The article provides an analysis of PGCE students’ experiences and reflections on the teaching of isiXhosa as a home language in schools. It argues that if there is a gap between theory underpinning initial pre-service training and actual practice in schools, there will be no significant improvement in the teaching of isiXhosa as a home language. It concludes by proposing ways of improving both pre-service and in-service teacher education practice to develop African languages as academic or intellectual languages at school level.