NWU celebrates multilingualism: Language Awareness Week

Language Awareness Week (LAW) is all about celebrating multilingualism at the North-West University (NWU) this year. LAW 2021 is anchored by the Faculty of Education in collaboration with the Language Directorate and will be presented online from 13 to 17 September.

Daily programmes begin with a short video and/or audio recording in celebration of the different languages represented across the campuses of the NWU. Students and staff have been invited to contribute, competing for the handsome prize of R1 000.

Prof Maryna Reyneke, Deputy Dean: Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Education, says a highlight of the programme is the showcasing of lecturers’ work in the implementation of multilingual pedagogies to promote students’ epistemic access and academic success. University lecturers’ training in these pedagogies portrays the NWU’s commitment to promote indigenous languages as languages of teaching and learning.

“The BAQONDE project, a collaborative project among several national and international universities collaborating on the intellectualisation of indigenous languages, is the focus of the Friday morning session. Participants who register for this session can look forward to the various representatives of the partner universities talking about the aims and projected outcomes of this project. The BAQONDE session focuses on a three-year EU-sponsored Erasmus+ project, which is a collaborative capacity-building project aimed at promoting the use of indigenous African languages in higher education in South Africa.

“The key aim is to provide access to the use of African languages, thus enabling university students to reach their full potential. It is a collaborative project between seven European and South African higher-education institutions: the University of Salamanca (Spain), the North-West University, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Rhodes University, the University of Groningen (the Netherlands), Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) and the University of the Western Cape,” she says.

Prof Maryna says other highlights include sessions on language portraits, during which participants will get the opportunity to reflect on their own “linguistic make-up”, sessions on the work of prominent writers in Afrikaans, English and Setswana and reflection on challenges regarding the generation and publishing of Setswana texts, as well as a session on the use of languages to manipulate. A session not to be missed is the one that will reflect on the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission shortly after South Africa became a democracy in 1994. Heart-rending stories and various experiences will be shared from the perspective of the interpreter/translator.

LAW will conclude on Friday, 17 September with the announcement of winners in several competitions. Video and/or audio recordings submitted by students and staff in celebration of their mother tongues will be shared daily. Students were furthermore invited to submit creative work in the form of poems or short stories in Afrikaans, English, Setswana and Sesotho on the theme Adaptation. A digital anthology will be posted on the LAW web page and a winner will be announced for each language group and each genre.

According to Prof Maryna, other activities include the competition for students in the Faculty of Education to translate high-frequency words/phrases used in a specific generic academic module from English to Setswana; the challenge for students to add to a student life co-curricular terminology list, indicating frequently used words and phrases used by students in the co-curricular environment, inclusive of the four target languages of the University; and a competition for the translation of an audio recording of a conversation among staff members who communicate by using a variety of languages (Afrikaans, English, Sepedi, Setswana, Sesotho, Greek, and German).

Simply enter NWU Language Awareness Week on a Google search or go to the website of the NWU and click on the banner for Language Awareness Week. There you will find the full programme for LAW and a button to register for the various interesting sessions that will be presented during the week of 13 to 17 September

Submitted by BELINDA BANTHAM on Thu, 09/09/2021 - 13:59