Teaching Xhosa for special purposes to physiotherapy students: A case study

  • Alet van Huyssteen
  • Bertie Neethling


Adults generally find language learning difficult and often do not attain much success. This article reports a case study in which a group of learners English and Afrikaans speaking physiotherapy students at the University of the Western Cape learners were allowed to share in the planning of their Xhosa course. Strategies were used to enhance the learner’s awareness of their specific communicative needs. Students were then involved in reformulating these needs in terms of desired outcomes. This meant that realistic goals were set with the effect that the objective was seen as attainable. Fear of failure was no longer acute. By participating in the planning process the learners claimed ownership of the course: they experienced a sense of achievement is experienced even before the actual learning process started which strengthened the motivation that had originally led the learner to embark upon the learning exercise.

Author Biographies

Alet van Huyssteen
Alet van Huyssteen holds an MA in African Languages from Stellenbosch. Her main area of interest is second language acquisition. Currently she is a lecturer in the Xhosa Department at UWC where she has been teaching Xhosa acquisition at different levels for some years. Previously she taught Xhosa as a foreign language at secondary school level. She has also taught Method of Xhosa second language in the Education Faculty at UWC.
Bertie Neethling
Bertie Neethling has a DLitt from Stellenbosch and is professor and chair of the Xhosa Department at UWC. Main areas of interest include Xhosa oral literature, Xhosa names and naming systems (onomastics), and language acquisition.  He taught Xhosa acquisition at UPE before moving to UWC, and has been involved with communication courses off-campus to various target groups.