UKZN Academic has Paper in isiZulu Published in Respected Journal
An article by Dr Zinhle Nkosi of the School of Education was recently published in isiZulu in the South African Journal of African Languages - a peer reviewed publication recognised by the Department of Higher Education.
This the first time Nkosi has had an article in isiZulu published in the journal.
‘Being able to publish a paper means a lot to me, and in fact, the whole University,’ said Nkosi.
‘UKZN is known to be the “Premier University of African Scholarship”. As the words suggest, this means that UKZN encourages the development of African scholarship, particularly isiZulu, the language spoken by many people in the country.’
Her article examines the relationship between the teaching of reading and teachers’ beliefs, focusing on isiZulu home language classes at Foundation Phase.
Research for the paper was conducted in a Durban township school among six Grade 2 and 3 teachers. Included in the findings was that some teachers are significantly influenced by their beliefs, which impacts on the way they plan their lessons, the methods they use, and their understanding about the reading phenomenon.
‘These beliefs relate to issues such as experience; methods of teaching; assessment of reading; and teaching materials. While the Department of Basic Education provides support to the teachers, some do not believe in new teaching methodologies and resources, and they prefer using their old curriculum teaching materials and methods of teaching and assessment.
‘As a consequence, my study finds teachers’ beliefs have an impact on the low reading levels of most learners, particularly in isiZulu home language.’
Nkosi believes that publishing a journal article in isiZulu is in line with the University’s language policy. ‘The Language Policy of UKZN (2006) and its Transformation Charter (2012) both recognise that African languages should be promoted as academic languages and the languages of research. Both documents emphasise that UKZN seeks to elevate isiZulu to the status of an academic language and a language of instruction and research as well as of general communication. Therefore, publishing a paper in isiZulu means that this vision is achievable.’
She also sees the article providing a good opportunity to showcase that isiZulu can be used for research purpose, and as a medium of instruction in Higher Education. ‘We need papers authored in isiZulu to teach our undergraduate and postgraduate students. The problem we have right now is that you rarely find an academic isiZulu authored paper, which is a challenge when we prepare study materials for our students,’ said Nkosi.
‘We end up translating the available English papers, only to find that sometimes the meaning is lost in translation, and you will see that when comparing the translated text with the original one. As African academics, we need to work very hard to produce more papers, to ensure that we reduce the utilisation of translated sources. This is not difficult, we can do it.’
Her advice to other isiZulu speaking colleagues outside her Department is not to be wary of writing in isiZulu. ‘I cannot blame any of them for being reluctant to write papers in isiZulu because of their concern that very few papers in isiZulu are accepted for publication by journals. Everybody likes to get published, but what is the use if journals don’t accept such papers?
‘We have good language policies, but it is vital that journals accept our papers when we want to publish in our languages.’
Nkosi pointed out that all her colleagues in the Department were working diligently to elevate the growth of isiZulu at the University. ‘I am not the only one in the struggle. You will see many more papers written by my colleagues. The fact is that I have been lucky to be the first to have a paper written in isiZulu accepted by a journal - many more are in the pipeline.’