‘Between phutu and samoosas’: Student response to assessment tasks for a thirdyear university course which adopts a World English approach

  • Brenda Spencer
Keywords: World Englishes, pedagogy, indigenised varieties of English (IVE), South African Englishes, multilingualism, hegemony

Abstract

This article demonstrates how teaching World Englishes (WE) and Indigenised Varieties of English (IVE), such as South African Englishes (SAE), challenges the hegemony of English which persists in African teaching contexts despite progressive language policies, the multilingualism of the learners and the fluid, translingual linguistic boundaries which exist in the 21st century. There is a need to acknowledge the linguistic resources of the multilingual learner. This article describes the value of teaching SAE as a didactic initiative designed to empower multilingual speakers of English in a semester module prescribed for the major in English at the University of South Africa, taught via distance education. It represents, in this context, a challenge from within the heart of hegemony. The paper showcases assessment tasks designed to teach WEs while promoting English language proficiency at graduate level. A qualitative analysis of student responses reveals that, although the hegemony of English remains strong, ‘Black’ South African English (BSAE) as an IVE is rapidly gaining ground. Students write with authority when the linguistic resources they bring to the assignment task are harnessed, but find certain of the theoretical underpinnings of WE difficult. This is not surprising given that although a greater tolerance for non-standard varieties of English is endorsed by the course, a standard variety is required for assessment purposes.

Keywords: World Englishes, pedagogy, indigenised varieties of English (IVE), South African Englishes, multilingualism, hegemony

Published
2019-12-13
Section
Articles

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eISSN: 0259-9570