This project is focussed on the development of multilingual glossaries for concept literacy with the aim of assisting students for whom English is an additional language to learn new special subject-field concepts through their first languages. The development of multilingual glossaries is also important for promoting the intellectualisation of indigenous African languages for use as mediums of instruction in higher education. According to the National Language Policy for Higher Education and the Report of the Ministerial Task Team on the Development of African languages as mediums of instruction in higher education (2005), universities have the responsibility to develop indigenous languages for academic purposes. The compilations of multilingual glossaries will fast-track the intellectualisation of these languages and their use in various special subject-fields.

Aim of the Project

The aim of this project is to develop multilingual glossaries for the different disciplines at UCT. A further aim is to build representative Special Language Corpora for indigenous languages of South Africa and the exploration of these resources for the development of machine-aided translation tools to be used in the translation of English texts into isiXhosa and other indigenous African languages.

Rationale and Motivation

The majority of Black students in South African higher education receive their tuition through English which is not their first language. As several studies point out, the use of a foreign language as the sole medium of education limits students' academic proficiency or achievement. The development of multilingual glossaries will provide students at the University of Cape Town the opportunity to use their first languages in learning new concepts in various subject fields.

The significance of this project lies in the fact that the multilingual glossaries will be based on academic texts collected in the form of Special Language Corpora. It is an established fact that language resources such as carefully compiled corpora of collected texts and utterances play a pivotal role in language development and natural language processing. The significance of using corpora is that students are active in identifying key terms, developing their definitions and equivalents. Thus, if used effectively, the glossaries provide a good scaffolding tool for students in learning new concepts.

Corpora and Glossaries

Special Language Corpora and Multilingual Concept Literacy Glossaries have been constructed:

For more information, please contact:

Associate Professor Lolie Makhubu-Badenhorst
Multilingualism Education Project (MEP)
Hoerikwaggo, Room 6.10.2
Tel: 021 650 5359/2991