The role of multilingualism in an academic milieu at a selected South African university
This article aims to establish the significance of the role played by multilingualism among students involved in discussing academic work with special reference to a selected South African university, namely the University of Venda. Multilingualism refers to the ability of an individual to speak many languages. The study is qualitative in nature and was conducted in the natural setting of the participants. Purposive sampling was used to select two groups consisting of ten students each. Data was collected through use of both non-participant observation and interview techniques. Three discussion sessions with the two selected groups were audio-taped. The audio-taped data was transcribed word for word to create texts for analysis. Although there is evidence to support the view that English is the dominant language used by students in academic discourse, African languages are also used, and research results show that multilingualism plays a prominent role. The study is important to people interested in multilingualism, especially in the promotion of the previously marginalised African languages.