Monday, 06 August 2018

Call for decolonisation of language in higher education

DECOLONIALITY: Prof Adelia Carstens from the University of Pretoria advocates for a rethink in how language is used in higher education in her keynote address at the 2018 Language Indaba on the Bellville Campus. DECOLONIALITY: Prof Adelia Carstens from the University of Pretoria advocates for a rethink in how language is used in higher education in her keynote address at the 2018 Language Indaba on the Bellville Campus.

Academics called for the transformation of language of instruction in South African universities during this year’s CPUT Language Indaba on the Bellville Campus.

Prof Adelia Carstens from the University of Pretoria was one of two keynote speakers, and her address was entitled “The Language question in higher education: transformations in our doing, talking and thinking and looking forward”.

Carstens said when lecturers set deadlines and assessments they often do not consider the fact that some students only have access to computers on campus and when they go to their home there is often no electricity.

She pointed out that the demand for English only as a medium of instruction has increased in some historically Afrikaans universities.

She argued that the language challenge is disrupting cultural and structural inertia in higher education.

She said that in a decolonised higher education the curricula and pedagogy should be aligned to who the students are as people, which is not often the case.

She added that government policy The Catalytic Project seeks to explore ways in which indigenous African languages can be used as resources in learning, teaching and research practices in South African higher education, more specifically in the process of concept formation.

“There is a growing body of research that points to the role of language in student underperformance at university. However this research does not seem to influence teaching practices, there is no pedagogy informing multi-language usage to support concept formation among students for whom English is an additional language.”

The other keynote speaker was Prof Leketi Makalela from Wits University who discussed the place of multilingualism in decolonised tertiary education.

Written by Kwanele Butana

Email: butanak@cput.ac.za

Provides coverage for the Business and Management Sciences and Education Faculties, Student Affairs Department and Cape Town and Mowbray Campuses.