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Monday, 22 February 2021

Applied Sciences celebrates linguistic and cultural diversity

FOSTERING MULTILINGUALISM: The Faculty of Applied Sciences Language Unit hosted a virtual seminar in celebration of International Mother Language Day. FOSTERING MULTILINGUALISM: The Faculty of Applied Sciences Language Unit hosted a virtual seminar in celebration of International Mother Language Day.

In commemoration of International Mother Language Day, the Faculty of Applied Sciences hosted a virtual seminar through which students, linguists, scientists and other field experts engaged in a vibrant discussion on Mother tongue-based education.

International Mother Language Day was announced by UNESCO on 17 November 1999 as a worldwide annual observation to be held on 21 February to promote multilingualism.  The theme for this year was: Fostering multilingualism for inclusion in education and society. The event was opened by the Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences, Prof Joseph Kioko, who indicated that language denotes identity, modes of interacting and diversity. 

There were presentations by diverse speakers and a panel discussion with the faculty’s students about their language experiences and perspectives. NRF SARChI Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Forensic Linguistics/ Language and Law at School of Languages and Literatures, Rhodes University, Dr Zakeera Docrat, who was also a guest speaker, said the event was most informative and contributed immensely to the debates on multilingualism in higher education institutions. Her presentation was on: Multilingual strategies for scientific teaching, learning and researching in higher education institutions. Docrat noted there was a general notion that the use of languages other than English ‘do not belong’ in the sciences and should be used, promoted and developed within the humanities.  

However, Docrat said: “It is wonderful to see the strides being taken in the science faculties at CPUT.” 

Faculty of Health & Wellness Sciences Lecturer, Michael Paulse said it’s wonderful to hear from the student panel and their thoughts on multilingualism.  “Sometimes we arrogantly believe that we have all the answers so hearing from them is so important,” Paulse continued.

“The debate on how to incorporate indigenous languages is not raging on in Russia, or in Japan, or in Bulgaria, or Korea... It is natural that their mother tongue languages are incorporated and are pervasive across their institutions. We need to make it work in South Africa. It would be an indictment on all of us if we are still debating this in 2030. Let's get excited about the change."

Faculty of Applied Sciences Extended Curriculum Programme Coordinator, Prof Beatrice Opeolu, said the workshop was excellently planned and the presentations were insightful. “I will use tools shared today in my tuition engagements in and out of the classroom. This will be to allow my students to ask questions and give answers in their mother tongues to enhance learning and inclusivity…

“However, we can do more with greater participation of staff as well as support for staff that are interested in learning and using tools aimed at improving language diversification."

Director: Transformation, Social Cohesion & Diversity Unit, Nonkosi Tyolwana said CPUT was making strides but there was a need for improvement. “Multilingualism is a resource that signifies identity and needs to cut across all areas of concerns such as student and staff support, teaching and learning, curriculum and research.”

Biotechnology and Consumer Science Lecturer, Prof Muhammad Nakhooda said the event was instrumental in co-creating knowledge in the science curriculum, by using indigenous languages to enhance understanding to students and to develop indigenous languages as languages of instruction. “Incidentally, there will be a publication from CPUT coming out later this year in the journal Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning from this very Faculty, around the practice of Translanguaging.” 

The organiser, Faculty of Applied Sciences Language Coordinator Ignatius Khan Ticha said the presentations were very insightful and informative. “The presenters are very passionate about linguistic and offer inclusivity and all offered very practical ways of achieving it in higher education.”

Written by Aphiwe Boyce

Email: boyceap@cput.ac.za

Provides coverage for the Engineering and the Built Environment and Applied Sciences Faculties.