Translanguaging in summarizing skills: the need to develop biliterate students

  • Sandiso Ngcobo
Keywords: African languages, biliteracy, translanguaging, summary writing, scaffolding, multilingualism


Summary writing is an important skill for university students to possess as they have to use it in their studies and future employment. Yet, many students struggle in mastering this skill, especially when it is taught solely through a second language (L2). This article reports on a study that sought to develop this skill among first-year African students through the use of both their first language (L1) and L2 as informed by translanguaging theory. Working in groups, students were guided on how to summarise texts in L1 and L2 by moving from one language to another. Their produced work was then analysed using a marking rubric as a tool developed to assess the quality of their summaries in both languages. The research tool was a summary writing rubric. The findings indicated that the majority of participants have satisfactory levels of competency in L2 as opposed to the summaries produced in their L1. It is recommended that biliteracy skills should be developed as part of students’ training in South African higher education.

Keywords: African languages; biliteracy; translanguaging; summary writing; scaffolding; multilingualism


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eISSN: 0259-9570