Department of African Languages develops national multilingual resource for higher education

Posted on August 03, 2018

Learning through the medium of one’s home language can facilitate learning. Being linguistically competent in one’s home language can facilitate the learning of other languages and even learning through the medium of other languages. In a multilingual setting where English, for instance, is the language of instruction, knowledge of terms and the concepts they represent in one’s home language can support learning through the medium of English.

The Department for African Languages and the Unit for Academic Literacy at the University of Pretoria in collaboration with the University of Cape Town used a collaboration grant from the Department for Higher Education and Training to develop an Open Educational Resource Term Bank (OERTB) that can help students in a variety of ways.

•  Get to know terms in English that are high frequency at university although they might rarely be used in education before students get to university and certainly are not common in social uses of English. The OER provides the term, a definition and an example of use.

•  Get to know the equivalent terms in the following languages: Afrikaans, isiZulu, isiXhosa, SiSwati, isiNdebele, Sesotho sa Leboa, Setswana, SeSotho, Tshivenda and XiTsonga.

•  Get to know terms in English and these languages for particular disciplines: accounting, anthropology, augmented and alternative communication, building science, chemistry, communication pathology, criminology, economics, family medicine, literature, mathematics, philosophy, political science, psychology and sociology.

An Open Educational Resource (OER) is one that is free for other people to use and repurpose. Any student may use this resource. Any lecturer may use it as a reference for the students.

The OERTB allows for feedback so users can comment on the quality of definitions, examples and translations. They can also offer to add resources that they have developed. Current contributors are the universities of Pretoria, Cape Town and Stellenbosch.

This OERTB is a national asset so start using this valuable resource today. You will find it at

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