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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Language Indaba focuses on multilingualism at universities

LINGUISTS: Delegates to the second Language Indaba which CPUT recently hosted at the Granger Bay Hotel School LINGUISTS: Delegates to the second Language Indaba which CPUT recently hosted at the Granger Bay Hotel School

Multilingualism in Higher Education was the focus of a recent Language Indaba hosted at CPUT.

Presented by CPUT’s Language Working Group in collaboration with Fundani Centre for Higher Education Development’s Language Unit, the event at the Granger Bay Hotel School attracted about 45 delegates from various parts of the country including curriculum officers, language specialists, academics and researchers.

The event focused on viable strategies and possible interventions that could improve access to learning.

Delivering the keynote address, Prof Russell Kaschula, Head of School of Languages at Rhodes University, said multilingualism underpins academic work.

 “Language is an environmental resource and not just a linguistic one,” Kaschula said when discussing the decrease of users of some indigenous South African languages.

He cited an author who predicted that endangered languages would die in 100 years’ time and that in 500 years’ time only English will be spoken in the world.

He suggested the inclusion of African Language proficiency as a requirement in professional training.  

Welcoming the delegates, Prof Anthony Staak, Deputy VC: Academic, told the gathering that the majority of CPUT students do not have English as their home language but that the university’s official medium of instruction is English.

“We know that this forms a major barrier to a student’s understanding of the difficult concepts in his or her field of study, particularly in the increasingly multilingual context of higher education,” says Staak.

CPUT’s Dr Monwabisi Ralarala and Dr Ernest Pineteh presented a research paper which found that international students struggle to adjust to a new and foreign educational system, both linguistically and culturally.

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.