Ethno-linguistically diverse South African students' writing

Verbra Frances Pfeiffer, Christa van der Walt


One of the major challenges for designers of academic literacy programmes is to accommodate culturally and linguistically diverse student groups. This longitudinal study was conducted with pre-service teachers at Stellenbosch University to determine their understanding of the importance of good writing and ways in which they can use translanguaging to assist them in their writing. This study has also been viewed against the backdrop of multilingualism in South Africa, with the notion of socio-cognitive processes and its influence on the students’ ability to write. The aim of this study was to explore what students regard as good writing and to identify the kinds of strategies that multilingual students use when they write extended texts. When pondering on the holistic view of the findings, this study endorses the use of home languages in the educational practice of academic writing, but with particular caveats. The findings reveal that academic writing entails more than mere grammatical correctness on a surface level, but also involves taking cognisance of the second language learners’ background and way of implementing mental structures derived from their home language.


academic literacy, multilingual writing, biliteracy, translanguaging.

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ISSN 2224-0012 (online); ISSN 0259-2312 (print)

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