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Advancing multilingualism in education

- Wits University

Professor Leketi Makalela argued for the strategic use of more than one language as a transformative and decolonising pedagogy in his inaugural lecture.

Professor Leketi Makalela, Head of the Division of Languages, Literacies and Literature at the Wits School of Education delivered his inaugural lecture on 9 May 2017 entitled, Translanguaging and Ubuntu in the 21st Century: Charting new frontiers for multilingual education.

In his lecture, Prof. Makalela questioned both monolingual and epistemic biases enshrined in the doctrine of one language-one- classroom. Using translanguaging as a cultural competence of multilingual students, he argued for a strategic use of more than one language (input-output exchange) as a transformative and decolonising pedagogy.

He is fascinated by the interface between languages and literacies in the 21st century and intrigued by the prospects of alternating languages of input and output to enhance identity affirmation and epistemic access for multilingual students. 

Believing that multilingualism is the norm for the new world order, Professor Makalela developed a multilingual literacies model, which is premised on the African value system of ubuntu to define complex multilingual encounters. He uses the logic of infinite relations of dependency to argue that  one language is incomplete without the other.

In this connection, he sees all global multilingual encounters as a reflection of the state of discontinuous continuities, where there is a constant disruption of boundaries and simultaneous recreation of new discursive ones.