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The continual conundrum of the “language across the curriculum” issue: lessons from the Bullock report (1975) for South African higher education today

T van Dyk
S Coetzee-Van Rooy


The link between language and learningand how to develop language across thecurriculum is a persisting theme in education research over time. In this article, thefirst in a series, we wish to contribute to the current vibrant debate about languageissues in higher education – both internationally and locally. It primarily aims atproviding a critical historical review of the conundrum of the “language across thecurriculum” issue and its implications for the South African higher education sector.This is done by critically comparing current local circumstances to lessons learntfrom the original context where the notion of “language across the curriculum” waspresented to improve the quality of education in schools in the United Kingdom in themid-1970’s. The premise behind this is that “to interpret the developments within afield competently, one needs a sense of its history” (Weideman, 2011: IX). Adding a veryspecific historical perspective is thus, and indeed, a necessary point of departure as itmay enable South African practitioners and policy makers to: (a) evaluate if all relevantinformation is considered in decision making today, and (b) situate strands of currentthinking in a framework that could clarify assumptions and implications potentiallyaccepted uncritically today.

Keywords: LAC (language across the curriculum), language and literacy development,higher education, multilingualism, Bullock report 

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eISSN: 2958-9320
print ISSN: 0259-9570