The influence of ideology on black African students’ perceptions of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s bilingual policy

  • Nolwandle Ntombenhle Madlala University of KwaZulu-Natal


The authors’ chosen theoretical framework posits that how black students perceive bilingual instruction in higher education is largely influenced by the various ideological perspectives they have been socialised into in different contexts where African languages are used but also continue to be diminished for different objectives. Through individual interviews, the study explored which ideological frameworks participants drew on when discussing their general perspectives, as well as perceived benefits and challenges of bilingual instruction at UKZN. They were also asked what their recommendations for the policy’s implementation process were. The students who had experienced bilingual instruction explained how they started understanding the content of their studies as well as the meaning of previously difficult English concepts better. Students who had not experienced bilingual instruction mainly discussed that they think the use of isiZulu could facilitate better understanding only for students who struggle to understand English. However, they warned that an extended use of isiZulu would hinder upward socioeconomic mobility for graduates who struggle to communicate in English. In light of the study’s findings and the conflicting ideologies shared in South Africa, the authors recommend that when planning their respective implementation processes for bi/multilingual instruction for higher education, national and institutional policymakers should consider students’ various ways of perceiving different languages’ levels of use and esteem and how this could influence their different objectives.