Thursday, 11 February 2021

Applied Sciences launches online isiXhosa and Afrikaans courses

LINGUISTIC DIVERSITY: The faculty of Applied Sciences Communication and Language Unit strives to create a linguistically inclusive university community and space where speakers of languages other than English can be made to see that their languages are valued. LINGUISTIC DIVERSITY: The faculty of Applied Sciences Communication and Language Unit strives to create a linguistically inclusive university community and space where speakers of languages other than English can be made to see that their languages are valued.

In line with International Mother Language Day, which is celebrated every year on 21 February, the Faculty of Applied Sciences Communication and Language Unit is running online isiXhosa and Afrikaans conversational courses.

Faculty of Applied Sciences Language Coordinator, Dr Ignatius Ticha says the isiXhosa course offered online in 2020 was a “huge success”. “We are looking forward to creating the space again for colleagues who missed out on taking the course during the first half of the 2021 academic year.”

The purpose of the course, which started on 6 February, is to provide staff with basic conversational isiXhosa and Afrikaans skills that should enable them to engage in multilingual teaching practices or at least engage students they teach and other members of the university community in isiXhosa and Afrikaans. The Faculty does not have a specific deadline for 2021 registration. It was left open until the Faculty secures a target number of between eight and 11 participants. 

In so doing, the staff will create a space where students who speak these languages will feel that their languages are acknowledged and respected. Also, the staff will better integrate themselves not just in the university community but also, in society.

“The courses promote linguistic diversity and linguistic rights by contributing to moving isiXhosa and Afrikaans from the periphery towards the centre and more should be done to create a linguistically inclusive university community and space where speakers of languages other than English can be made to see that their languages are valued,” Ticha remarks 

The isiXhosa course was offered online for the first time due to the Covid-19 lockdown and Ticha says it became clear that this resulted in an increase in the participants as well as improved attendance.  “This was mainly because staff could attend without having to travel from their campuses. Unfortunately, the conversational Afrikaans course did not take place in 2020 but, we are working to offer the course this year, and encourage staff to make use of the opportunity,” he explains.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has been celebrating International Mother Language Day for nearly 20 years, with the aim of preserving linguistic diversity and promoting mother tongue-based multilingual education.

Ticha encouraged the Faculty’s staff to participate in these conversational courses. “The skills they acquire would contribute towards ensuring that they can transcend linguistic barriers, better integrate themselves and create a linguistically inclusive and safe space that would be particularly beneficial to students, at least at a symbolic level.”

The Faculty is also hosting an online International Mother Tongue Day event on 22 February from 10:00 to 11:40. This year, UNESCO will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its bold statement that ‘no discrimination can be made on the basis of language’, and celebrate its translation into more than 500 languages.  

Written by Des