Translanguaging as an approach to address language inequality in South African higher education: summary writing skills development

  • Sandiso Ngcobo Mangosuthu University of Technology
  • Nobuhle E Ndaba Mangosuthu University of Technology
  • Bulelwa L Nyangiwe Mangosuthu University of Technology
  • Njabulo C Mpungose Mangosuthu University of Technology
  • Rafiq Jamal Mangosuthu University of Technology


Literacy challenges among the majority of African-language speaking students learning through the medium of English impact on unequal throughput in South African higher education. To address this social injustice issue, academic literacy practitioners have a critical role to play in the inclusion of linguistic diversity in higher education. This requires that the curriculum be revised in such a way that classroom activities and assessments give recognition to students’ African languages. In this paper, we outline how translanguaging as a teaching and learning approach promises to develop literacy in both the students’ African languages and English. The paper describes a summary skills development teaching approach and its accompanying activities which enable the students to move between isiZulu and English. The summary writing activities are followed by a guided reflection note from students on their perceptions and experiences of the new communicative approach that has been introduced to them. The majority of participants express positive perceptions of this approach as they find it familiar to what they are used to doing when learning on their own. It is hoped that the translanguaging approach would contribute to the promotion of equality in language and literacy development in the South African higher education sector.

Author Biographies

Sandiso Ngcobo, Mangosuthu University of Technology

Sandiso Ngcobo is a senior lecturer at Mangosuthu University of Technology. He holds a PhD in linguistics from University of KwaZulu-Natal and his research interests are in multilingual education, language attitudes, translation and the use of literature and technology to enhance the teaching of academic literacy and communication skills. In addition, he supervises and publishes work he does with master of business administration (MBA) students from Management College of South Africa (MANCOSA. He is a recipient of both the 2014 Vice Chancellor’s Teaching & Learning Excellence Award and the 2014 Most Productive Researcher in the Faculty of Management Sciences at Mangosuthu University of Technology. 

Nobuhle E Ndaba, Mangosuthu University of Technology
Nobuhle E. Ndaba holds a Master of Arts Communication Science obtained from the University of Zululand (UZ) in 2015, the same year in which she started lecturing at MUT in the Department of Communication. Prior to that she worked as a tutor for UZ  whilst pursuing her studies.
Bulelwa L Nyangiwe, Mangosuthu University of Technology
Bulelwa L.  Nyangiwe is studying towards her Doctoral degree in Linguistics with University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). Her Master’s degree focussed on Teaching English as a Second Language and her research interests include speech acts, code switching and language attitudes. She joined MUT in 2003 after many years spent teaching at various secondary schools where she also served as a head of department in language and literacy.
Njabulo C Mpungose, Mangosuthu University of Technology
Njabulo C. Mpungose is currently registered for a Master’s degree with UKZN. He has worked for MUT since 2007 during which period he has taught academic literacy and communication skills. Prior to joining MUT he worked in a secondary school environment.
Rafiq Jamal, Mangosuthu University of Technology
Jamal M. Rafiq is pursuing a PhD on Professional Knowledge with UKZN. He has been in the employment of MUT since 2003 after spending many years teaching at various schools and colleges. Rafiq’s research interests are into speech acts, language policy and business communication.
How to Cite
NGCOBO, Sandiso et al. Translanguaging as an approach to address language inequality in South African higher education: summary writing skills development. Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL), [S.l.], v. 4, n. 2, p. 10-27, dec. 2016. ISSN 2310-7103. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 22 june 2018.


translanguaging; biliteracy; equality; summary writing; reflections