Students’ perceptions of Black English teaching staff at education institutions in Johannesburg, South Africa

  • Memory T Chacha-Mhlahlo
  • Corwin L Mhlahlo
Keywords: post-apartheid, South African transformation, black teachers, bi-multilingual identities, context-sensitive teaching approaches


Since the official end of apartheid in South Africa, the English departments of some former whites-only secondary schools and universities have made attempts at transformation by employing both local and foreign black teaching staff. This paper qualitatively explores both secondary and tertiary students’ perceptions of black teachers/lecturers of English at two secondary schools, an FET college and a university located in Johannesburg. It does so against the backdrop of South Africa’s racial history, the high status the colonial language of English continues to have in the postcolonial country and now, its instruction by second-language speakers of English to multi-racial students. It is in this context that the paper investigates and comes to grips with how postcolonial identity constructs of the last century are today impacting the teaching-learning of English; how identity is being perceived, constructed and performed in some South African schools and higher education institutions. It concludes by recommending context-sensitive approaches that exploit the opportunities bi/multilingual identities offer, specifically to the teaching-learning of English and other languages generally.

Author Biographies

Memory T Chacha-Mhlahlo
Memory T Chacha-Mhlahlo is an educator of over ten years’ standing. She is a co-founder and director of Get Ahead Tutorial Services (Johannesburg). Her research interests include: sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics and special needs education.E-mail address: 
Corwin L Mhlahlo
Corwin L Mhlahlo has a combined twenty years of teaching experience at both high school and university levels. He counts language and literature in English education; teacher development; gender and identity; and contemporary issues in English education among his research interests.E-mail address: