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Situational Translanguaging as a Compensatory Communication Strategy for isiZulu-Speaking Students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal

Evangeline Bonisiwe Zungu and Ntombenhle Precious Ngcobo


South Africa is a multilingual country in which people are exposed to different languages. This creates an environment in which people acquire the ability to unconsciously switch between languages. In a university context, where students from disadvantaged backgrounds find themselves compelled to communicate in English to participate in classroom discussions and tutorials, code-switching becomes a norm. The participants are mainly isiZulu first language speakers who attended isiZulu medium high schools where educators used code-switching as a teaching method in the classroom. This paper argues that translanguaging has been adopted by the students as a compensatory communication strategy in a context where different languages are spoken but are not understood by everyone. It also aims to educate society about the functionality and the value of translanguaging as it is done in the essence of communication, and is present in every part of the students’ lives on campus. Translanguaging bridges the gap in communication for the aforementioned students. It has gained importance as a communication strategy which also shows their level of education and sophistication, in addition to allowing them to be understood. This article adopts the Conversational Analysis Theory to illustrate the reasons provided by the students for code-switching.

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