UWC prof addresses anti-multilingualism in academia

Stellenbosch – Professor Bassey Antia raised an important academic issue during a guest lecture at Stellenbosch University (SU), the recent anti-multilingualism in academic institutions.

Antia, a lecturer at the UWC Linguistics Department, delivered a lecture on the importance of terminology in assessment contexts within secondary and tertiary education on Thursday. He briefly addressed the subject of anti-multilingualism within academia, a notion that has become popular with particular student associations regarding language options.

His view comes after the Stellenbosch University crisis where the T-option was criticised in favour of a single medium teaching- and testing situation. US is currently undergoing transformation to a double-medium institution.

His discussion started with ‘testing accommodation’ which he defined as the, “modification of the test or testing situation to help students and ensure [language] barriers are removed.”

According to Antia the South African Department of Basic Education decided to provide Afrikaans and English matric exams papers as it would be easier than adding African languages spoken in the area.

Antia argues against this decision by saying that more languages need to be added to exam papers in order to improve testing accommodation, resulting in better scores.

It is a common belief in the linguistic field that bi- and multilingualism have cognitive benefits, thus Antia suggests that the potential of multilingual terminology needs to be exploited. He added that terminology can be seen as, “building blocks of specialised knowledge,” and that a specifically formatted exam paper might provide academic advantages.

Juliane Bockmühl, a post-graduate student at the Stellenbosch University Linguistics Department, stated that it is rarely a straightforward answer when dealing with multilingualism. She said that having multiple languages in exam papers might help.

“In-between languages there are different connotations attached to words, so building up on those various meanings that they gather from having more than one language might definitely increase understanding of the content and what is expected,” Bockmühl said.

This links with Antia’s view that multilingualism greatly affects students’ progress as they can consult both languages in test situations to find the correct answers.

Antia concluded his lecture and called on the government to consider his study’s results and invest in research around multilingualism. “This research should include providing mother-tongue education to students and testing them in multilingual situations where these advantages can take place,” said Bockmühl.

Antia emphasised that including more mother-tongue languages in assessment contexts will significantly improve results.

Lovelyn’s speech welcomed at SU convocation

Stellenbosch – Lovelyn Nwadeyi addressed members and attendees of the Stellenbosch University (SU) Convocation last night in a speech that was widely appreciated.

Nwadeyi surprised many when she started speaking fluent Afrikaans a few minutes into her speech.

Many believe that she spoke to the middle-class, conservative Afrikaans family, by stating concerns in their own language and making them sit up and take notice, said Chantelle Croeser, one of the attendees.

Nwadeyi discussed the current issues of who actually owns Afrikaans as a language, as well as the protection of languages. Nwadeyi said that Afrikaans doesn’t just belong to the white Afrikaans man, but to a lot of other people as well.

“Afrikaans is a lot of languages, it is different cultures,” she said.

According to Nwadeyi the protection of Afrikaans means protecting not just the purist version, but all other forms of the language found in South Africa.

She later mentioned that, “it is not the university’s job to protect a language, but the speakers themselves.”

Croeser, an Open Stellenbosch member, explained that what is meant with protecting purist Afrikaans at SU. “One race is taking a language and telling others how to use it,” she said. She added that the university is not a museum for preserving a language.

Lovelyn Nwadeyi is the first black person, and youngest black woman to ever speak at a SU Convocation. “The risk she took by speaking about the sensitive topic of Afrikaans caused a polarity in the room,” said Croeser.

Dana Snyman – ʼn storie-sendeling

Dana Snyman sien homself as ʼn storie-sendeling, iemand wat alles doen wat hy kan om die evangelie van stories uit te dra.

“Mense het stories op ʼn manier net so nodig as wat hulle brood en water nodig het om te kan leef,” sê die bekende storieverteller.

Wat In die Bloukamp, sy agste boek, anders maak is dat dit geïnspireer is deur sosiale media.

“Facebook is ʼn wonderlike plek om mense se stories te sien,” sê Dana. Hy het ʼn paar jaar gelede begin om stories op sy Facebook-bladsy te deel. Al die positiewe reaksie van die publiek het hom geïnspireer om ʼn bundel uit dié inskrywings saam te stel.

Nadat hy as misdaadverslaggewer by Beeld gewerk, het Huisgenoot en die reistydskrif Weg gevolg. As joernalis het hy Suid-Afrika platgereis en menigte mense ontmoet. Deesdae is Dana meer as gelukkig in Jacobsbaai aan die Weskus met sy drie honde. Hy is nou ʼn voltydse vryskutskrywer.

Dana het die vermoë om stories te vertel wat nostalgie opwek en hy gebruik sentimentaliteit in sy stories wat baie Afrikaners waardeer en wat soms ʼn traan uitlok. Op dié manier het hy ʼn volksliefling geword.

Hy beantwoord dieper vrae met geesdrif en is passievol oor die rol van stories vertel met woorde, eerder as beelde.

“Die geskrewe woord moet toenemend buig voor die visuele media. Daar is baie redes daarvoor, maar soms dink ek dis sommer net luiheid en gemaksug.”

Dana voel in Suid-Afrika se huidige politieke omstandighede moet Afrikaanse storievertellers “toenemend sensitief wees vir wat [hulle] sê.”

Hy meen dat mense deesdae dit makliker vind om ander te beskuldig wanneer hulle, hulle vrese uitspreek in die openbaar, en dat ons met meer simpatie en takt na mekaar moet begin luister.

“Die tong en die oor is vir my ewe belangrik.”

Hy voeg by dat Woordfees nog van altyd af sy gunstelingfees was; vir die min lawaai, sinvolle gesprekke, en dít boonop nog in ʼn mooi dorp.



Play aims to change opinions

Breughel Theatre – “You can’t change people’s perception with one play, but you can plant a seed to start awareness.”

This is how Jason Jacobs talked about As, a Woordfees production which deals with homophobia in South Africa.

As is a newly-translated play that looks at the attitudes towards gay people in the country; as well as the notions of family, love and acceptance. The play is a 2015 Standard Bank Ovation Award winner and traces the life of a young gay man through the eyes of six characters.

“In a society where being different is frowned upon, he aims to find a place where he feels comfortable and safe,” said Jacobs.

After the lead character comes out to his parents, they send him away from their small town to the city, in order to protect him, as well as to offer more opportunities. The play highlights the humanity of the characters and addresses the ideas of family and love.

As sends a powerful message of acceptance by family, but it is also about regret when it’s too late. Audiences at the Woordfees have been moved by theme of the play, as well as by the excellent acting and seamless switching between characters of the two-man cast.

“We used the same actors who starred in the original, Ashes, as they knew the story line and were thankfully both bilingual,” said director Philip Rademeyer.

Rademeyer is known for plays that include Siembamba and The View.

The drive behind the play is the violence against gay, lesbian and transgender people in South Africa. It was specifically inspired by three accounts of extremely violent murders of gay men in the greater Cape area in 2014. These attacks remained largely unreported in mainstream media. As attempts to highlight these issues in a way that will spark a debate and force society to acknowledge these issues.

“In one of the accounts a man was set on fire and I used that as a metaphor in that ashes is the remains after something is burnt,” Rademeyer said about the title.