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Thursday, 21 February 2019

Celebrating International Mother Language Day

Staff and students are invited to celebrate International Mother Language Day today by learning more about the over 100 languages spoken at CPUT.

The Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships office challenges the entire university, from the council members to support staff, to learn a new greeting in any foreign language.

This Mother Tongue campaign takes its cue from the UNESCO calendar. Every year on 21 February, to reiterate its commitment to linguistic diversity, UNESCO invites its member states to celebrate the day in as many languages as possible. This is meant to serve as a reminder that linguistic diversity and multilingualism is essential for sustainable development. UNESCO has declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Carol Wilson, manager of the Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships office, says the institution has enrolled around 2 480 international students from 72 countries this year who speak about 100 different languages. “Although our office staff speaks 15 different languages amongst us we are all going to learn a greeting from one of our foreign students’ mother tongue,” said Wilson.

CPUT uses a variety of interventions in the lecture halls to accommodate multilingualism from online multilingual glossaries to a touch screen directory, with various faculties trying different approaches to see what works best. The concept was also a hot topic at last year’s decolonisation seminars. Translanguaging – switching between languages while teaching to exploit the students’ whole linguistic repertoire - was also the subject of a recent CPUT seminar.

“On 21 February let us open all meetings, answer all telephones, start all lectures in a foreign language. The idea of this campaign is to make staff and students aware of all the diverse languages spoken at this institution,” explained Wilson.

Written by Theresa Smith

Email: smitht@cput.ac.za

Provides coverage for the Applied Sciences and Engineering Faculties and the Wellington Campus.