College of Education

Re-centring African languages

Prof Vivian Manyike

The inaugural lecture of Prof Vivian Manyike, Language Education, entitled The importance of English in higher education and its implications for teacher education, took place on 15 November 2018.

Her inaugural lecture was mainly based on her research conducted over the past 14 years on the importance of English language proficiency skills in the South African education system.

"In my presentation I argue for the use of both English and African languages in higher education in order to improve the quality of teaching and learning in our country. I argue that both English and African languages are important in education and therefore the two should not be viewed in binary terms as either English or an African language," said Manyike.

Globalisation, economic mobility and internationalisation made knowledge of English essential; however, the low literacy levels in South Africa, especially amongst learners from low socio economic backgrounds make it imperative to introduce an African language medium of instruction at all levels of the education system.

"I therefore call for the re-centring of African languages and promoting literacy in learners’ first languages. In the light of my thesis I concluded by making realistic recommendations for the equalisation and the shared use of English and the African languages in education at all levels in South Africa, particularly in teacher training," Manyike concluded.


The woman behind the professor


Name your three favourite songs as a teenager.

When we were two young lovers dancing the night away by Leo Sayer

When a man loves a woman by Percy Sledge

No woman, no cry by Bob Marley


The best part of radio? And the worst part of TV?

I think the best part of the radio is that you can listen while you are busy working whereas with TV you need to watch. I mostly watch news and for me the worst part of TV is "soapies". Despite this, most children are addicted to TV and as such they are lazy to play outdoors.


What does a dream weekend involve?

Being by the seaside surrounded by mountains or sitting somewhere quiet with a background of a river flowing and reading a novel.


What are your aspirations in this position?

To liaise with more experts in my field internationally and locally to conduct large-scale research on English language teaching in teacher education institutions.

To make a difference in our communities through community engagement by assisting struggling schools in teaching English.


Name a leader in your field who inspires you.

Jim Cummins


* Compiled by Sharon Farrell, Editor: Internal Communication, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2019/04/01