Voices of Grade Four teachers in response to Mazibuye Izilimi Zomdabu! (Bring Back African Languages!): A decolonising approach

  • Patrick Mweli University of KwaZulu-Natal


The language of learning and teaching (LoLT) poses a threat to the quality of teaching and learning of most learners who speak African languages in Africa and particularly in South Africa. In this study, I explore language attitudes and the lived experiences of 400 Grade Four teachers in Pinetown and UMgungundlovu districts teaching African learners using English as LoLT. The study challenges Anglonormative language ideologies (Mckinney, Carrim, Layton, & Marshall, 2015) and the coloniality of dominant discourses about LoLT in South Africa. Calling on the voices of the teachers, I argue for the use of African languages to teach African learners as a powerful measure to regain African identity and to delink from Eurocentric knowledge and cultures. I compared results from quantitative and qualitative data to arrive at the overall finding that most Grade Four teacher participants prefer the use of African languages to teach African learners and that these teachers are experiencing difficulty in using English as LoLT to teach most of them. Drawing from teachers’ responses, I conclude that the use of African languages in education connects learners’ worldviews and ways of knowing to the curriculum and provides access to knowledge.

Author Biography

Patrick Mweli, University of KwaZulu-Natal
School of Education: Lecturer