Language Committee announces new policy directives

Dr Hleze Kunju, Acting Chairperson of the Rhodes University Language Committee
Dr Hleze Kunju, Acting Chairperson of the Rhodes University Language Committee

By Karabo Baloyi, MA student in Journalism and Media Studies


Acting Chairperson of the Rhodes University Language Committee, Dr Hleze Kunju, announced the revised Language Policy and Committee directives during Rhodes University’s School of Languages’ two-day Forensic Linguistics Colloquium.

Starting 9 October, Rhodes University’s School of Languages held a two-day forensic linguistics colloquium at the University, which is still a relatively new field in South Africa. Some of the topics covered aimed to highlight the relationship between language and the law, such as Africanising the subject of law in higher education and the role that language can play in peace building in South Africa.

As part of the Language Committee directives, Dr Kunju announced that, instead of simply hosting one major language colloquium towards the end of the year, the Language Committee has decided to maximise language awareness at the University by supporting every language-related event initiated on campus throughout the year.

In the latest review of the Language Policy, the Committee has added translanguaging in teaching and learning at the University, with an emphasis on the use of IsiXhosa and Afrikaans.

Furthermore, the Committee has set up a task team that is working on the establishment of an Indigenous Languages Centre, to be headed by Dr Kunju and Professor Dion Nkomo, Senior Lecturer in the Division of African Languages Studies. This Centre aims to ensure the successful implementation of the Language Policy. “Although having a Language Policy is not new, there has never been structures to ensure its implementation in all areas of teaching and learning and within all departments,” said Dr Kunju.

Zakeera Docrat, PhD student at the School of Languages, explained that the latest Language Policy directives were important, especially because of recent decisions by former bilingual universities such as the University of the Free State and the University of Pretoria, to adopt a monolingual English approach. “English is understood by many of us, but the majority of South Africans do not have access to English and that is a problem,” Docrat said.

“We must be wary of racialising our languages by associating them with specific racial groups – this is not unity in diversity,” she added.