Translanguaging as Empowerment of Black Students: The Case of a Common Course in a Post-Apartheid South African University

Author: Msakha Mona (University of Cape Town, South Africa)
Speaker: Msakha Mona
Topic: Language Revitalization
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


This paper presentation will report on a qualitative research that explored the use of multilingualism in a first-year common course at a newly established South African university. Mpumalanga in Context (MIC100) which is the course that was observed for this research, was explored through a blend of the extended case method and ethnography. Data was collected through student course reviews, interviews as well as ethnographic observations. The data was then coded into key thematic areas and analysed on NVivo. Findings reveal that translanguaging had an empowering effect on students’ learning. Moreover, the students’ responses reveal that translanguaging is effective in addressing issues of language injustice that resulted from South Africa’s colonial history – thus in the South African higher education context, translanguaging is a decolonizing approach. Therefore, this presentation will discuss approaches to translanguaging that empowered students both from an educational perspective and a social justice perspective of cultural recognition. The case study is significant in that it took place in one of the only two South African public universities that do not have a colonial and apartheid history. This presents a rare opportunity to explore questions of decoloniality and language justice outside of universities that have been leading these debates due to their colonial history. Findings from this research can be used by teachers, curriculum designers, policy makers as well as scholars of social justice in education, inter alia.

Keywords: translanguaging, decolonization, social justice, post-apartheid, multilingualism