Translanguaging as a vehicle for epistemic access: Cases for Reading Comprehension and Multilingual Interactions – Prof. Leketi Makalela

“Those of us who believe in the power of translanguaging practices for learning in multilingual classrooms can argue with confidence that this 21st century phenomenon is about ways of knowing that are plural, dynamic and fluid. I have shown that translanguaging is a useful model, when aligned with the ancient African value system of ubuntu, to challenge colonial and monolingual language practices that have pre-occupied the teaching profession ¬†for centuries and put multilingual children at the risk of failure, cognitive disadvantage and identity crisis for the rest of their lives.

Should we still believe that use of more than one language creates mental confusion? Are multilingual children and adult speakers confused? My answer is a resounding NO; both propositions were based on exclusive, segregating societies that would not tolerate multiplicity (i.e. The ideology of oneness as seen in their one language, one nation mantra). In my latest publication on this subject, TRANSLANGUAGING AS A VEHICLE FOR EPISTEMIC ACCESS, I present two cases: one primary school bilingual readers of African languages and English and university students learning African languages. The results of the study showed superior performance in reading literacy and positive schooling experience in both groups. Thus, it is instructive to argue that uBuntu translanguaging practices – where one language is incomplete without the other – are a way for African multilingual return.”

Debunking myths associated with the use of Indegenous African Languages (IALs) in the classroom

Unpacking The Language of Instruction Myth: Toward Progressive Language Policies in Africa – By Leketi Makalela

In which language should an African child be taught for literacy and educational success in an African classroom?” Asks Professor Leketi Makalela. Makalela outlines the following “Great Myths”:

  • Learning through English facilitates its acquisition;
  • Mother tongue education leads to tribal enclaves of the Apartheid system;
  • Africa has multiple languages that are mutually unintelligible;
  • Two official languages will lead to a multilingual society.

It is clear to see that these myths are predicated upon the belief that there exists no African intellectualism; that the only ‘sensible’ and effective model is one that is Eurocentric – this furthers the colonization of the African mind, thereby disempowering the African child.

In his chapter, Professor Makalela debunks these myths in a succinct manner that forces to re-imagine the language of instruction in the African classroom.