Translanguaging: A tool to decolonise students’ experiences of learning to write for academic purposes in the South African university context

  • Sandiso Ngcobo
  • Katie Bryant
  • Hloniphani Ndebele


University students can experience many challenges writing for academic purposes as they move from secondary to post-secondary  studies. Both first and additional language users of English experience these challenges, resulting in universities across the globe  instituting different modalities to help ease students’ transitions. In South African universities, despite English being the medium of instruction, most students are additional language speakers of English. This article discusses findings from a 2019 study that investigated three questions: 1) Do firstyear, additional language users of English choose to engage in translanguaging when presented with such an opportunity in their university courses? 2) If they choose to use this tool, how do they employ the genre conventions and discourse  markers of the traditional academic essay? 3) What are their reactions to being presented with the opportunity to use translanguaging in their academic studies? The findings illustrate that approximately half of the study’s participants chose to employ translanguaging in their responses and were able to successfully use the genre conventions and discourse makers of the academic essay.


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eISSN: 0259-9570