n Journal for Language Teaching = Ijenali Yekufundzisa Lulwimi = Tydskrif vir Taalonderrig - Writing in English with an 'African voice' : ownership, identity and learning

Volume 37, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0259-9570



The paper draws on the academic literacies approach to student writing and investigates academic writing, in English, by speakers of African languages at the University of Natal, Durban. Given that education can be considered to involve the formation of consciousness and identity, we ask to what extent these speakers of other primary languages feel able to participate fully in this and to claim ownership of the knowledge construction required in tertiary education. To answer this question we investigate whether black students feel able to write in the academic context with an 'own voice'. Interviews with 20 students suggest that few respondents feel able to assume an African identity in our university. We consider ways in which the university might be more adequately constituted as a 'site of diversity' (Lillis, 2001) : by reconsidering the current monolingual bias of teaching and learning, and by revisiting the knowledges that students are expected to own.

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