Communications academic obtains PhD in linguistics and literacies

Dr Mgijima at his graduation

As MUT continues to strengthen its academic offerings and increase its research output, it requires that its academic staff obtain the highest qualifications to respond to the University’s goal of excellence in teaching and learning. Dr Vukile Mgijima, a lecturer in communications department, has responded to this call for academic excellence by graduating with a PhD in linguistics and literacies from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Dr Mgijima’s study investigated the effects of translanguaging techniques on the reading abilities of bilingual learners in Grade 4. Translanguaging is the process whereby multilingual speakers utilise their languages as an integrated communication system. The study focused on the influence of translanguaging on the learners’ ability to recall information, their text reorganisation skills, and their ability to make predictions and draw inferences when reading texts. The study was prompted by the researcher’s observation about the Grade 4 learners’ low reading abilities.

The findings demonstrated that translanguaging techniques in which two languages (the learners’ home language and first additional language) are used simultaneously in one lesson have a positive impact on the reading comprehension skills of the learners. The findings also indicated that reading comprehension is determined by a number of factors, which include the reader’s familiarity with the content, the context of the reading text, the vocabulary used therein, and the reader’s writing skills in general.
Through his study, Dr Mgijima recommends that “teacher training institutions, curriculum designers and educators in South Africa and elsewhere should create an enabling environment for learners to freely use their tongues and minds. It is only when the linguistic barriers are removed that bilingual education can truly enable multilingual learners to acquire knowledge and express the same using various languages and semiotic repertoires”.